HC Deb 18 April 1872 vol 210 cc1478-9

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether he will now state what steps he intends to take in consequence of the Report of the Royal Commission on the loss of Her Majesty's ship "Megæra?"


Sir, the Report of the Commissioners who sat upon the loss of the Megœra is under two heads. These are—first, their comments as regards deficiencies in the administration of the Admiralty and of the dockyards; and then there is their review of their censures upon the conduct of particular officers. I cannot do justice to the whole subject in an answer to a Question, but I will briefly state the main steps we have taken. As regards existing deficienceis in Admiralty administration, we have already undertaken a certain number of reforms, partly in consequence of the Report and the evidence on which it is based, and partly on the incidents of the loss of the Megœra itself. As the noble Lord is aware, the secretarial arrangements have been revised; the deficiency shown to exist through the want of a registry of incoming letters has attracted our attention, and a new system is under consideration. I will further state that a new system of ships' books has been prepared, in order to insure all the incidents of a ship's history being properly and regularly recorded. Further instructions have been drawn up for the officers of the dockyards with regard to periodical and more regular examination of the bottoms of iron vessels, and the duties of different officers have been more clearly defined. Regulations are being drawn up with regard to the steam reserve. The respective duties of carpenters and engineers, upon which a great deal turns in the case of the Megœra, have been laid down more clearly. As regards the comments and censures passed upon certain officers by the Commissioners, the course we have taken is this—we have called upon the officers who are still in the employ of the Admiralty for such observations as they think they are entitled to make in defence of their conduct. These answers have been received, and are now being compared with the evidence, which is very voluminous. I am sure the noble Lord will not wish me to express an opinion on the conduct of those officers until that work, which is a very protracted one, has been completed.