HC Deb 12 August 1871 vol 208 cc1525-46

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

(1.) £187,830, Coast Guard, Royal Naval Coast Volunteers, and Reserves.


said, that the present Government had shown a marvellous power of appropriation ever since they had been in office, and the First Lord of the Admiralty, in moving the Navy Estimates, gave credit to his predecessor for having introduced the practice of sending the coast-ships to sea for the purpose of practising evolutions, and keeping up the knowledge of the men in seamanship. But he (Mr. Corry) begged to state that the practice was introduced by himself, and that the whole of the ships had been sent out for a month's training under Admiral Tarleton in 1867. His intention was to send them out in the following year as well; but the substitution of armoured ships in the Coastguard for line-of-battle ships, which were then in progress, had made it impossible. This, again, was another change, of which the credit had been coolly appropriated by his successor, although in moving the Navy Estimates, in 1868, he (Mr. Corry) had fully explained his intentions, to which he had made much progress in giving effect before he resigned office at the end of the year. The First Lord also had boasted that the men were now entered direct from the Navy; but this had been the case ever since the Coastguard had been placed under the Admiralty. The entire elimination of the civilian element had also been made a subject of self-laudation; but he thought that this was a great hardship to many meritorious men, without any advantage to the service, because, if the Coastguard were called out for war service, a certain number of men must always be left on shore for preventive duties, and the civilians were quite as well qualified for these duties as seamen. The civilians, without the wholesale dismissals to which the late First Lord had resorted, would soon have disappeared from natural causes. In 1864 there were 950 civilians, 750 in 1865, 550 in 1866, 450 in 1867, 350 in 1868, and 300 in 1869. These figures showed how rapidly the civilian element was disappearing.

(2.) £967,418, Dockyards and Naval Yards at Home and Abroad.


, adverting to some remarks of the First Lord of the Admiralty on a former evening, denied that he had unduly burdened the Estimates of his successor with the charge for the ships he had ordered to be built, for which he had not himself made sufficient provision. Although the present Government had given the preference to their own ships, his ships had not been longer in building than was usual in the case of large iron-clads. He had himself made every effort to build the Captain in two years, but had found it impossible; and the First Lord had stated, in moving the Estimates in the month of March, that the last of his (Mr. Corry's) ships—the Triumph and Swiftsure, which were not commenced till late in 1868, were almost completed. If the Glatton had not been finished long ago it was entirely the fault of the Admiralty, which had neglected her to push forward their own ships. He denied that in his criticism of the ships of the late First Lord he was influenced by party motives, and observed that he should not be deterred by any insinuation of that kind of the present First Lord from expressing his opinion in regard to ships which he believed to be unsafe. The right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) stated, in 1869, that vessels of the Devastation class were to be thorough sea-going ships; whereas the present First Lord was constrained to confess that they were fit only for Channel service. He had himself said nothing more severe against them than that; and he asked if it was conceivable that any Board of Admiralty, even with a majority of 120 behind its back, could have induced a House of Commons to sanction the absurdity of building Channel ships drawing 27 feet of water, that depth being exactly 11 feet more than Lord Lauderdale's Committee reported ought to be the maximum draught in the Channel waters?


said, he thought he had been excessively complimentary the other day to the right hon. Gentleman; but his praise seemed to irritate the right hon. Gentleman as much as his criticisms or his corrections. The right hon. Gentleman wished to claim credit for reductions, and then he also claimed credit for profuse expenditure. He also claimed credit for not having discharged as large a number of men as his (Mr. Goschen's) Colleague; but afterwards he claimed a merit for having a smaller number of men under him than he had some time before. He (Mr. Goschen) did not say that the Devastation was fit only for the Channel. What he had said was that her place was near home; not because he thought she could not cross the Atlantic, but because he thought a defence of the Channel was one of the strongest exigencies of the present day, and that he thought the Devastation could obtain and retain the supremacy of the Channel. On a previous occasion the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Hay) had snubbed him for saying that the Devastation, which drew 27 feet of water, could be sent to the Baltic; but he had since received a letter from a distinguished naval officer to the effect that she might be safely sent there.


said, he was aware that ships drawing even 30 feet of water could go into the Baltic. What he said the other day was, that such vessels would not be able to approach Cronstadt and the other places which it might be desirable to attack.


said, he hoped a comparison would be produced of the expense of constructing sister-ships, one of which had been built in a Royal dockyard and the other in a private establishment. Vessels of light draught, like the Boscawen and the Cumberland, had been specially built for service in the Baltic, in consequence of the need which was felt for their services.


observed that in the War ending in 1815 it was a difficult matter to afford protection to our Mercantile Marine; but now that our commerce had increased five-fold, and our vessels were scattered all over the world, the attempt must be hopeless. He remembered having heard the noble Lord (Lord Henry Lennox), who once introduced the Navy Estimates, describe unarmoured vessels as bound to act upon the "cut-and-run principle," and in the presence of an armour-plated ship an unarmoured vessel and the vessels which it was supposed to protect would be scattered like a flock of geese. He thought the effect of a late high official in the Navy writing letters upon every occasion to the papers, and threatening disaster to our ships of war, could not be other- wise than injurious. But, for once, he would depart from his principles of economy, and admit that the Constructor of the Navy ought to be a first-class man, and paid accordingly.


considered that the Government were responsible, not merely for the defence of the coasts of this country, but likewise for the defence of the coasts of our colonies.


said, he thought if they really were a nation of shopkeepers they should get better value for their money. In the late Sir Robert Peel's time only £7,000,000 were spent upon the Navy, and it was confessedly equal in efficiency to the Navy of the present day, which cost nearly £11,000,000.


said, that a recent visit paid by him to Portsmouth Dockyard left upon his mind the impression of great waste and extravagance. If a private firm conducted business upon those principles it would be bankrupt in a twelvemonth.


wished to know whether the First Lord was about to repeat the cruise of personal observation undertaken by his predecessor.


could not hold out any such undertaking; but said that, as one of Her Majesty's ships was about to proceed to Australia, the hon. Member himself might possibly desire to take a passage. As regarded the cost of the Navy, £5,000,000 of the amount was for the men, and he did not think anyone had suggested that either the numbers or the payments which they received were excessive. If any hon. Member was anxious to know what was done with the Vote of Credit of last year, he would find full information in the statement with which he had introduced the present Estimates. As to economy in the dockyards, there was no subject which had occupied the attention of his right hon. Friend the late First Lord more than that important question, and he had taken great strides in the direction of simplicity of management in the dockyards. Attempts had been made to institute a comparison between sister-ships built in the dockyards and private establishments, and there were documents in existence showing the results.


differed from the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) as to the importance and feasibility of protecting their commerce. What his noble Friend the Member for Chichester (Lord Henry Lennox) had spoken of on the occasion alluded to were vessels "which could neither fight nor run away." He, on the contrary, advocated vessels which could both run away themselves, if necessary, and could overtake and fight an enemy if they desired to do so. It was quite possible, he thought, that there might be extravagance at Portsmouth, seeing that economy and concentration of offices had been carried to such a point that effective supervision and control became an absolute impossibility. If the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Whalley) was really going to Australia in the Devastation, it would probably be well for him to bear in mind the opinion of Sir William Fairbairn, that the ship would go under the seas as she could not go over them—in fact, that it would be a species of submarine navigation. He certainly advised the hon. Gentleman to bring waterproofs with him, and not to expect a dry passage.


protested against the Government carrying on the business of manufacturers. The Government ought to repair their own ships; but they ought to build them by contract.


said, the difficulty was that the progress of science and discovery necessitated important alterations of design during the time that a ship was on the stocks; but as soon as a special type had been definitively settled, then it was possible to accept tenders.

Vote agreed to.

(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £837,965, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Naval Stores for Building, Repairing, and Outfitting the Fleet and Coast Guard, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1872.


The First Lord of the Admiralty had stated that last autumn the Vote for stores had been supplemented by a grant of £150,000, not because the yards were devoid of stores, but to hasten the work on the breaking out of the war. I assert, on the contrary, that they were then in a state of indecent nudity, and that it would have been impossible to meet the demand if an armament had been decided on upon the breaking out of the Franco-Prussian War. The then existing system was thus described to me by a person on whose knowledge and veracity I can rely— The present system is from hand to mouth to the last degree. There is no kind of establishment, and no stores are to be asked for at the beginning of each quarter more than is just enough, including what is in hand, to last beyond the next demand in the succeeding quarter. This system must shortly render the yards quite unable to meet the demands which a heavy gale might create if the Channel Fleet alone. I am glad to find things are not so bad now. The war opened the eyes of the Admiralty to the necessity of some change, and when the quarterly demands were authorized to be raised so as to equal six months' expenditure, an officer said to me "we are now able to scrape along pretty well." Of course, I cannot state the actual condition of the stores, but there is evidence of deficiency in many essential articles. An ample stock of hemp and cordage, sails, anchors, masts, used to be considered necessary to the equipment of a fleet. As to hemp, yarn, and cordage, I was not quite satisfied with the state of the store when I resigned office. The average annual expenditure of cordage is 2,300 tons. I left 3,000 tons, or equal to 15 months' expenditure; and of hemp and yarn, 4,800 tons, equal to more than two years' consumption. That these stocks have been most materially reduced is clear from information which has been laid before Parliament. The savings and deficiency accounts for 1869–70 show that the advertisements for hemp amounted to only 1,400 tons, or 900 tons less than the expenditure, 2,300 tons; the Admiralty, of course, was living on stock as to difference. At Devonport, I found rope was being made of yarn only four months old. Every sailor knows what that means. Well seasoned yarn is essential to the making of good and durable rope. The quantity of rope made per week was greatly in excess of yarn made, consequently the yarn was daily more and more improperly made up; and if the yarn does not keep pace with the rope, even bad rope must cease to be made. If war should break out, more particularly if we were involved in difficulty with the Baltic Powers, we should be obliged to purchase the raw material at extravagant rates. Sir James Graham always attached the greatest importance to the maintenance of an ample stock of hemp and yarn. There is no doubt that the stock is at present insufficient, and the saving on outlay for stock is more than lost by the rapid depreciation of the article made. Then as to sails, there is evidence that no store is kept up, for the Megæra, which was last in carrying out one of the new-fangled economies, was detained till new sails were got ready for the Blanche, Clio, and the Rosario, which were about to be paid off and re-commissioned in Australia. It was also stated to me that sails had to be specially provided for other ships which had been re-commissioned, whereas formally a reasonable stock was kept to meet such contingencies. Then, as to anchors, the Hercules parted a best bower at Spithead a few months ago. Rodgers's are the best holding anchors, and are supplied as bower anchors to armour-clads. But Portsmouth could not supply a single bower anchor fit for a large armour-clad, and forty-eight hours were required to put a new stock on an old Admiralty anchor. That was the condition of our greatest yard a few months ago as to anchors. Then, as to masts; last year the Trafalgar was commissioned at Portsmouth; but the yard had not the means of masting her. I think it was the foremast in which it was deficient. Application was then made to another yard, but it could not meet the demand, and at last one was found—I think at Sheerness—and was sent round to Portsmouth. I was informed by a naval officer that this year Portsmouth could not furnish paint for one of the large armour-clads, and that the officers had to subscribe to paint her out of their own pockets. Last year, to my knowledge, on a demand being made by a large ship for soap and tobacco, the victualling yard at Gosport could not supply those articles, and several days elapsed before they could be obtained. Soap is paid for by the men out of their own pockets, and it is a great hardship to them to be supplied with new soap which wastes away much more rapidly than what has been some time in store. I have also heard of various instances of improper sales of stores, which afterwards had to be re-placed. At two of the yards I heard of works being retarded for want of iron ballast; and Seely's pigs, which once made so much noise in the world, and were declared worth £6 per ton, were sold at 44s., and actually delivered by the Admiralty in the North of England for 50s. I have good reason to believe that 200 tons of copper were sold at Portsmouth to make out a good balance-sheet—and that afterwards there was found to be a deficiency, and copper had to be obtained to carry on the works, I believe, by breaking up a ship for the purpose. These are straws which show which way the wind blows. But I am happy to say that many beneficial changes have been made in consequence of our remarks last year. At that time the orders were to receive coals by bill of lading, without weighing, in the usual mercantile course. The result was that ships, well known in the trade for many years, suddenly developed a remakable capacity for stowage, and payments were made for coals which were never received; and labourers were paid for stacking, and brokers for purchasing, imaginary coals. This practice has been discontinued. There has been another reform in the old direction. The receiving officers, under the new system, were deprived of the power to reject inferior coal. I remonstrated against this last year; and I am happy to say this rule has been rescinded, and a clause is now inserted in the contracts to the effect that coals rejected from being of inferior quality are to be replaced by good ones. Again, coals are now in a great measure bought by public advertisement, instead of the entire supply being left to the broker. Last year there was a transaction of a strictly commercial character, which I do not think is likely to be repeated. A Mr. Cornelius O'Leary, who is, I believe, a countryman of my own, and a very able man, was employed to put a mercantile value on the timber in the dockyards, and report what was proper to sell and what to retain for use, and to put a price on the latter. After several months he sent in an excellent report, and charged £5,400 for his services. The Admiralty demurred to this, and he replied that he had charged on two valuations on a stock worth £800,000, and that his charge was only half what he was entitled to make. Only for his moderation £10,800 would have been charged. The matter was referred to arbitration, which decided in Mr. O'Leary's favour, and the £5,400 had to be paid, just £900 more than, the annual pittance the country allows to the First Lord of the Admiralty. With respect to the question of the use of mixed coal in the Navy instead of Welsh, I wish to say a few words. It has been asserted that mixed coal is now generally approved in the service. I can positively state it is almost universally condemned. I know that good results have been obtained by careful manipulation in the dockyards. But this is practically impossible on service. I have seen a letter from an officer either now or lately in command of an iron-clad, who says— I cannot understand how the officials at the Admiralty can say that the captains and engineers are nearly unanimous in reporting favourably of the Admiralty mixture. I have never heard but one opinion expressed, and that is that the smoke is intolerable, and that the use of such coals would on many occasions be most dangerous. For instance, were the squadron to enter the Tagus with a moderate south-westerly wind, the smoke would effectually prevent the leading marks being seen, or the movements of the leading ships observed. Trying experiments in a dockyard, where coals can be brought in a barrow from separate stacks of coal, and with a skilled stoker, is a widely different thing from the work on board ship, where one may have large quantities of North-country coal in the bunker you are working from, and, again, large quantities of Welsh in another, the coal being generally stowed below, so as to get it off the deck as quickly as possible. The stokers on board ship now-a-days are generally an inexperienced lot. Another officer writes— The smoke the ships make with half-and-half is very distressing, and could not be tolerated in war time. On many occasions, such as entering harbours with a squadron, much unnecessary risk is incurred. Steam may be raised with mixed coal with greater economy than with all Welsh, and smoke may be greatly diminished in volume; but there is a vast difference between carrying out an experiment on shore, where everything can be properly arranged, and the rough work on board ships with such unskilled stokers as the service furnishes, where there can be no doubt that the Welsh coal is the sort to use with advantage. I will only advert to one other statement, which appeared in The Times several months ago relative to the departure of the squadron from Malta. It says— Long after their departure, and when miles away, dense columns of black smoke might be seen issuing from their funnels. Of the false economy recently introduced into the Navy of using North-country coal I hear frequent and very general complaints. Naval officers are of opinion that the thick dark smoke which this fuel throws out in combustion, might, under certain circumstances, seriously interfere with effective signalling, and for this and other reasons should be discontinued. The obstinacy of the Admiralty in persevering in the use of this mixture is unaccountable. Before I sit down I hope I may be allowed to make a remark on a subject not strictly relevant to this Vote—I allude to Captain Scott's inventions of training gear and iron gun-carriages, which have been universally adopted for the heaviest broadside guns. I trust Captain Scott's claim to remuneration will be considered by the Admiralty in a spirit of becoming liberality. The award of £2,000 for his invention was a preposterous one, for he was more than that out of pocket, and the service he has rendered ought to be liberally rewarded.


wished to know what proportion of non-smoke-producing coal was now in store, for there ought to be some stock kept at each station, as smoke-producing coal was very injurious. It was said that it was very difficult to keep coals, as atmospheric influences deteriorated them, and he suggested that Her Majesty's Government should offer a premium for the best way of keeping them that could be devised.


said, he had had a Notice on the Paper to inquire into the matter nearly all the Session, and he hoped the Government would take it into their serious consideration. With regard to the question of mixing coal, there was no doubt that properly mixed coal could be burnt without producing much smoke; but the difficulty was to mix the coals properly, especially considering the way in which the coal bunkers were arranged on board our men-of-war.


suggested, as an improvement upon the suggestion of the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Macfie), that the Government should offer a premium for the best description of smoke-consuming furnace for the use of our ships. Great progress had been made in the art of consuming smoke, and he thought that the introduction of such furnaces would be of great value.


rose to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £56,000, with a view to applying that amount to the building of light draughted vessels for coast and harbour defence. The hon. Member said, that during the late war, the want of small vessels as an accompaniment of the Fleet of France exercised a great influence on the destiny of that country. We had a Fleet not unlike the French Fleet—great in armour-clads and draught of water, but altogether deficient in small vessels. Now the Americans had an armour-clad building of the size of the Glatton, and as powerful, drawing only 20 feet of water, and it was worth considering whether their principle of construction was superior or not to ours. Our vessels for the protection of our commerce on foreign stations were generally of a very inferior class, and the honour and interests of the country required that this state of things should be altered. On the China station, for example, our ships were not equal in strength and power to those of Russia. A few years ago we had six or eight ships of the Amazon class, which were to have been the police of the sea; but, either from weakness or want of speed, or from some other imperfection, they were found practically useless for police purposes. Then we had vessels constructed of the Inconstant class, but they were unsafe for sailing in narrow waters. His idea of a vessel for police purposes was one whose normal condition should be under canvas, but carrying sufficient coal to be able, when necessary, to steam at a speed equal if not superior to the speed of ordinary steam vessels. Such a vessel as that was the Alabama, and he did not see why we could not have some vessels of that class built for the service of this country. The right hon. Gentleman would probable admit that we had not more vessels to protect British interests and commerce on distant stations than were absolutely necessary in time of peace; but surely we ought to make provision for those contingencies which might naturally be expected to occur. A point which he wished particularly to impress upon the Committee was, the necessity that existed of providing vessels of a light draught of water. We had very few vessels of that class, and the want of them had not been sufficiently appreciated by the Admiralty. Early in the Session he had brought forward a Motion having referrence to the unprotected state of our principal commercial ports, and he hoped next Session to have an opportunity of taking the sense of the House upon it. Meanwhile the Defence Committee, com- posed of some of the ablest members of both branches of the profession, had, he was told, sent in their Report containing certain recommendations to the authorities, in which he believed as to Liverpool they suggested that ten of these vessels of light draught should be stationed there for the defence of the port. If true, that was a strong justification of the view which he was putting forward. The Devastation class of vessel, he was disposed to believe, would answer both for purposes of offence and defence in certain cases; but no vessel of her class could venture to cruise along a line of coast without a port under her lee, and on the east coast the only suitable inlet was in the Frith of Forth. It was in waters of this class that vessels of a light draught were calculated to play so admirable a part. These vessels would not cost more than £10,000 or £12,000 each, and would carry a gun capable of piercing the side of any iron-clad in our own Navy save three, and excepting also four iron-clads belonging to other Powers. Meanwhile, these boats, from their small size, light draught of water, and intimate knowledge of every channel possessed by their crews, would be practically unassailable by the vessels to which they would be opposed. Another consideration in favour of his proposal was that just at this moment great doubt existed as to the proper class of vessels to build. There was a general impression that in the contest between guns and plates, the advantage was on the side of the guns; but the matter was still very far from decided. Therefore, while it was still uncertain which was the best model of big ships to build, they might safely proceed with the building of light vessels, as to the advantage of which nobody had ever raised a question. By the forms of the House he was prevented from moving an addition to any Vote; all he could therefore do to raise the question was to propose that a particular Vote should be reduced by £56,000, the amount required for the purpose that he advocated. He very much regretted to have the appearance of thus delaying the completion of the Blonde, a vessel which we very much wanted, to match the magnificent ships that he saw in America capable of going 16 knots an hour. But he felt that the importance of possessing these light draughted vessels was paramount, and he begged accordingly to move the reduction of the Vote.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £781,965, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Naval Stores for Building, Repairing, and Outfitting the Fleet and Coast Guard, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1872."—(Mr. Graves.)


said, the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) would not, he hoped, feel it necessary to divide the Committee upon this Question. There had been already transferred from the construction of the larger to the smaller class of vessels, included in the present Estimate, a sum of £19,000, and a further charge was in contemplation at the end of the financial year, by which instead of building one-fourth of two sloops, at a cost of £20,000, it was proposed to devote this money to the building of further gunboats. These two sums together would make about £40,000 of the sum of £56,000 by which the hon. Member proposed that the Vote should be reduced. If those sloops were proceeded with at once, they would only save three months, and the Government, upon reflection, had thought it better to proceed with the gunboats, and reserve to next year the question of the best class of large vessels to be built. The result of the arguments pressed upon the Admiralty in the present discussion was certainly instructive. One right hon. Gentleman wanted frigates that would command the seas; another hon. Member corvettes that would follow the enemy into shallow waters; another hon. Member desired sloops that would be so many Alabamas; while another desired the multiplication of gunboats. In fact, every class of vessels had its advocates in the House, and they all desired to see the ships they were interested in built at once. Others, again, insisted on the importance of increasing our stores of every kind, while, at the same time, it was imperative that there should be no increase whatever in the Estimates. As to the ships which were produced, it was a curious feature of debates in the House of Commons that Englishmen not only insisted on knowing themselves, but that everybody else should know, the defects and weak points of every ship they possessed. Till that result had been attained, hon. Members appeared to think that they had not done their duty. In estimating the strength of the British Navy it was necessary to take into account the strength of any combination likely to be formed against us. One hon. Gentleman had spoken of America and Russia. With a distinguished naval officer who represented this country at Washington he had gone carefully through the American Navy ship by ship, and he had seen some of the criticisms which were passed by Americans themselves upon the vessels of their own Fleet. One entire category of these was put down by Americans as only fit for river employment. And as for their Monitors generally, they did not suppose that they could cross the seas. Yet in every calculation put forward in the House of Commons for the purpose of influencing the conduct of our Government, these Monitors were made to play an important part. The hon. Member for Liverpool had spoken of some American ships which went 16 knots an hour; but he believed there were several of those ships which had never repeated on actual service the performances which they made upon their trial trip. It was a very invidious task to say anything in depreciation of the Navies of other Powers; but how else could he explain the true position of this country or allay the alarm which a series of speeches in Parliament was likely to create? Take, for instance, the Russian Navy. The Russians, he thought, would not resent the statement, for they made it freely themselves, that their Navy was calculated for defence only. But that was not the position of England. Our power to defend our own shores must largely depend upon our powers of offence, and on our capacity to destroy early in the war the fleets which might be brought against us, thus, at the same time, to protect our commerce. It would require a most extraordinary combination of Powers to make a descent with iron-clads upon our coasts. The hon. Member for Liverpool attached great importance to these gunboats, and so did he himself. But he did not think it would be wise to go on building 50 or 60 of these boats to the neglect of larger and more commanding ships of war; and for this reason, that in case of need the gunboats could be produced much more rapidly than ships fit to take their place in line of battle. Moreover, it would not do to rely upon gunboats, unsupported by larger ships. With a view of ascertaining upon what parts of the coast gunboats could operate with most advantage, he proposed that a distinguished naval officer should proceed to different parts of the country and make inquiries as to the draught of water and other details necessary to be studied in connection with the stationing and exercise of those vessels. With regard to the Committee of Designs, the object of their appointment was not so much to invent new classes of ships as to determine certain practical questions and to solve various scientific problems as to stability and other matters essential to be rightly understood in connection with shipbuilding. To the question of coal supply the attention of the Admiralty had been directed; but as the experiments could not be looked upon as concluded, it would be premature for him to express any opinion beyond saying that there was no sufficient proof yet of any want of success of the new system. The question of smoke was of great importance; but so also was the command of different sources of supply rendering the service independent of a possible strike in Wales. It had been ascertained that the North-country coal kept better on distant stations; but all these matters must be considered together, and the question seemed to be one less of principle than of degree. As to the experiments made, it was necessary to know a good deal about them, and how they had been conducted in all respects before it was possible to accept the results as conclusive. On this head, a little incident had occurred to himself by which he was much struck at the time, and which he certainly regarded as very instructive. He was going out in one of the gunboats to Spithead and the vessel was making an enormous quantity of smoke. This became a matter of conversation on board, when one of the officers happened to inquire whether the smoke-consuming apparatus was working. It turned out that it had not been arranged; but when put in order, the smoke ceased as if by magic. It might be said that in war time the apparatus could not be depended upon, and that great nicety in stoking would become impossible, and that would be a perfectly fair observation. Nevertheless, this little incident convinced him that in judging of results everything depended upon the fairness and fulness with which the experiments had been conducted. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry) had called attention to a number of isolated cases in which the article wanted was not in store. Of course, it was difficult, with his recent knowledge of the Department, to explain off-hand the particular circumstances of each case, and the right hon. Gentleman had fairly said that he was historical in his comments. But he believed it would be found that the difficulty arose in nearly all these cases from the demand being for a special article, and not for stores of a general character. The Agincourt, for instance, was in want of plates of a description no longer used in Her Majesty's service, and which, therefore, required specially to be made for her. But there was no general deficiency of stock of all articles of ordinary consumption. The service had a supply for fully six months, and to lay up special stores in large quantities would only be to provide stores certain to be superseded in a very short time.


, after the explanation which had just been given, appealed to his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) not to divide the Committee. He thanked the First Lord of the Admiralty for the temperate and courteous speech which he had made upon this question. It was a great satisfaction to find a right hon. Gentleman—short as had been his experience—so fully alive to the wants of the Navy in this particular; and he augured from that circumstance a very considerable change for the better in the administration of the Department, which, for the last two years, it had been his painful duty incessantly to oppose. He assured the right hon. Gentleman that whatever little support it was in his power to afford should be cordially given to aid in carrying out the views so candidly and freely explained to the House.


recommended that the Admiralty should have recourse to private enterprise for assistance in their arrangements.


contended the main argument of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) did not at all justify the maintenance of large squadrons at a distance. The former policy had, in fact, been already reversed to a considerable extent.


believed that it was impossible to realize in one ship the conditions prescribed by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves), and with regard to the Alabama, said that her speed had been ridiculously over-estimated, and she was only a racehorse among cart horses. He rejoiced that the First Lord of the Admiralty recognized the necessity of increasing the number of vessels of light draught. He hoped his right hon. Friend would not be deterred from continuing experiments with mixed coal. It was one thing to have knowledge from coals burnt at the expense of another and to derive it from coals burnt at your own; and the result of his own experience was that neither with Welsh coal alone nor with Newcastle coal alone could you achieve the same economical results that you could with mixed coals, and he believed it was quite possible to overcome the smoke difficulty.


said, he was glad to hear that the ports were to be visited by the Fleet, and he hoped that naval officers would be joined by military officers in order that conflicting views about the defence of the ports might to some extent be reconciled. He thanked the Government, on the part of the commercial community, for the assurance just given with regard to light vessels.


said, he had been anxious to take the opinion of the Committee rather on the matter of principle than amount; but after the satisfactory explanation of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty he would withdraw his Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(4,) £751,716, Steam Machinery, and Ships building by Contract.


called attention to figures showing the great economy of fuel effected by the introduction of compound engines, and expressed a strong opinion that in a very short time every engine in the Navy which was not upon that principle would be condemned.


concurred in these remarks, and expressed his surprise that the Admiralty had been so tardy in adopting compound engines, to the advantages of which he called attention two years ago, offering the Government every information.


said, that all new vessels were being built with compound engines.

Vote agreed to.

(5.) £763,394, for New Works, Buildings, Machinery, and Repairs.


complained that only £20,000 a-year was being spent on Cork Harbour, and that at the present rate of progress it would take 20 years to complete it, and he made the complaint on Imperial grounds, because the harbour would be so useful for the examination of ships' bottoms, and the more so because iron fouled so much sooner than copper. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would order more men to be employed upon the works.


agreed that it was false economy to distribute over a number of years works which had been determined upon and which could be carried out rapidly, particularly when there was no financial difficulty in spreading the cost of them over any length of time. He wished to draw attention to the increased cost of works at Chatham Dockyard, which he believed was due in a large measure to the employment of convict labour, because an analysis of Returns which had been published, and of supplementary Returns which had been laid on the Table, showed that there was an enormous increase in the cost of works that had been executed by convict labour. He should have been disposed to move the reduction of the Vote if there had been any chance of a full and fair discussion. Since he called attention to the subject last year, his action had been fully justified by the further information he had received; and early next Session he should move for a Committee to inquire into it. It seemed extremely doubtful whether the authorities possessed the information necessary to enable them to form a correct estimate of the actual value of convict labour. He did not object to the employment of convicts on public works when they could be employed to advantage; but great care ought to be taken in regard to what works they were employed on. The original Estimate for the public works at Chatham went back to 1861. The expense of the proposed works was then estimated to cost £943,000. It was then assumed that these works would be com- pleted by convict labour. In 1864, however, another Select Committee was appointed. It was then proposed that a certain portion of the works should be executed by contract; and much importance was attached to the question of time. It was stated in the evidence given before the Committee relating to the works at Portland, that the anticipated saving by the adoption of convict labour had been swallowed up by the cost of superintendence. The Estimate for these works was £1,250,000, which proceeded on the understanding that convict labour should be employed. He thought that some explanation ought to have been given on this question. It was said that part of the foundations had given way, and that it was thought advisable that the plans should be altered. The cost had been as nearly as possible double the amount anticipated. When these contracts were made it was understood that copies of them were to be laid upon the Table. He did not think that these contracts were contemplated by the Committees which considered these questions. This could not be a contract respecting which it was anticipated that it should be completed within the year. He held that for the future not only the names of contractors, but the amount of the tenders, should be laid before the House. He could not move the Resolution of which he had given Notice, which was— To call attention to the Papers and Returns presented to this House, relating to the extension of Chatham Dockyard and works in connection therewith, and to move, That it is not expedient to proceed with the execution of the proposed 'Fitting-out Basin and Locks' by convict labour until more accurate information is obtained as to the comparative cost and advantage of that mode of executing the work, as compared with the execution by contract, regard being had to the time within which it is important for the public service that such works should be completed, and further that the erection of the large factory to cover, according to the plan recommended by an official communication in a Report dated 26th August 1869, an area of not less than 47,000 square yards, ought not to be commenced until a complete estimate of the cost of such factory, and of the machinery requisite for its occupation, shall have been submitted to and sanctioned by this House. But his object was to protest that the House should not be committed to expenditure for that enormous building until full Estimates and details were laid before it.


said, that the Admiralty was fully alive to the importance of the works at Cork; but the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire) would recollect that when the works at Cork were contemplated it was intended to apply convict labour. The number of convicts, however, in Ireland was so limited, that use had to be made of hired labour. The works at Chatham were very much more important, and it was desirable that they should be completed before the works at Cork. Fortunately the works at Chatham were now approaching completion, and when they were completed the Admiralty would give the works at Cork due consideration. As to the proposed works nothing would be done until the sense of the House was taken on the matter. As to the question of convict labour generally it had to be admitted that the Estimates had been very greatly overstated; there had been some saving, and on a comparison of the value of the works actually completed by the convicts with the works according to the schedule of prices, the saving on the actual work done was about £100,000. Looking to the fact that a large number of convicts were now employed, and that if their labour were discontinued they must be sent elsewhere, it was not surprising that the Government adhered to the employment of convict labour. The dredging of the entrance of the dock was now in course of progress, at all events a Vote would be taken for its further completion during the next year.

Vote agreed to.

(6.) £829,238, Half-pay and Reserved and Retired Pay.

(7.) £17,600, Supplementary sum for New Works, &c. (Purchase of Land at Port Said for Depôt).

(8.) £16,000, Supplementary sum for Miscellaneous Services (Torpedo Experiments).

(9.) £73,969, to complete the sum for the British Museum.


said, the Hebrew catalogue was now completed; and progress was being made with the Chinese and Japanese catalogues. The opening of the Museum during the summer months from 6 to 8 o'clock answered very well last year, and this year also was attracting an increased number of visitors. A Vote of £4,000 taken for the transfer of the Natural History collection to South Kensington would, it was hoped, enable the public at no distant time to see the other contents of the Museum to much greater advantage. The right hon. Gentleman observed that there had lately passed away from among them a gentleman whose name was well known in connection with science and literature, and he thought it was right on that occasion to make some allusion to the loss which had been sustained; he alluded to the late Mr. Grote. Of his literary reputation it was unnecessary to speak; but his zealous, loyal, faithful service to the British Museum could only be properly appreciated by those who had witnessed it. No man had ever discharged duties, without ostenation, in a more careful, diligent manner than Mr. Grote.

Vote agreed to.

(10.) £140,867, Greenwich Hospital and School.

(11.) £3,050, to complete the sum for the Wellington Monument.

(12.) £30,000, to complete the sum for the erection of Natural History Museum.

(13.) £208,179, to complete the sum for Consular Establishments Abroad, &c.


said, it was with very great reluctance that he allowed this Vote to be taken in the actual condition of the House. He suggested that further reductions in this Vote were possible; that the expenditure in the Chinese consular ports ought to be more clearly distinguished; and asked whether there was not reason to believe that some fees had been irregularly taken at Shanghai.


said, that there was a reduction this year of £7,000 upon this Vote, making, with the reductions effected last year, nearly £14,000 altogether. He was afraid that extra fees had been charged at Shanghai; but the matter was being inquired into.

Vote agreed to.

(14.) £51,564, to complete the sum for payments in aid of Colonial Local Revenue for Governors, &c.

(15.) £3,018, to complete the sum for the Orange River Territory and Saint Helena.

(16.) £1,330, to complete the sum for Mixed Commissions for Suppression of Slave Trade.

(17.) £700, to complete the sum for Expenses under the Coolie Emigration Convention.

(18.) £7,600, to complete the sum for the Treasury Chest.

(19.) £1,327, Supplementary sum for Royal Parks and Pleasure Grounds.

(20.) £20,000, Supplementary sum for Harbours, &c. under the Board of Trade.

(21.) £1,700, Supplementary sum for Embassy Houses Abroad.

(22.) £6,200, Supplementary sum for Embassy Houses, Constantinople, China, Japan, and Tehran.

(23.) £2,320, Building for University of London.

(24.) £98,299, New Courts of Justice and Offices.

(25.) £7,000, Anstruther Harbour.

(26.) £700,000, Exchequer Bonds.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday;

Committee to sit again upon Monday.

House adjourned at a quarter after Six o'clock, till Monday.