HC Deb 18 February 1875 vol 222 cc484-5

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether the use of Government Graving Docks has been afforded by the Government to private firms, one contracting for the completion of the ironclad frigate "Kaiser" for the German Government, and another for the completion of the ironclad "Independencia" for the Peruvian Government; if so, upon what terms; and, if gratuitously, whether the Government was aware that there were other Graving Docks of sufficient capacity constructed by private enterprise for commercial profit?


On the 21st of November Messrs. Samuda Brothers applied to the Admiralty for permission to dock the Kaiser in one of the Government dry docks at Chatham. This was refused unless it could be shown that no private dock was available. Upon their replying that there was in the river only one such dock—namely, one at Millwall—which was capacious enough, and that there would be considerable difficulties in getting the ship in and out of the basin leading to the dock, and that the dock was then otherwise engaged, and that time was of importance, permission was granted to dock her at Chatham. No charge was made, for it is not the practice for the Admiralty to make a charge for a ship of war, there being reciprocity in these matters between different nations. I considered that in giving this permission the Admiralty was performing an act of courtesy to a friendly Power. The ship was in dock eight days. With regard to the other ship, the following information has been supplied to me from the War Office:—The dock at Woolwich Dockyard at present occupied by the Independencia is hired by the builders of that vessel at the rate of £180 per month. The builders have also dredged the dock at their own expense and paid part of the cost of repairing the caisson. The vessel in question was taken into this dock at the request of the Brazilian Minister, conveyed through the Foreign Office, as the Secretary of State wished to oblige a friendly Power.