§ MR. EDWARDS
, in rising to call the attention of the House to the Report of the Committee appointed by the Admiralty to inquire into the system of training Naval Cadets on board Her Majesty's ship "Britannia," and to the considerations which ought to govern the authorities in the selection of a site for the proposed Naval College; and to move—That, before establishing such College at Dartmouth, it is desirable to consider further the advantages offered by other places,said, that since his Notice had been placed on the Paper, the question of the fitness of Dartmouth for a Naval College had been discussed in "another place." He believed hon. Members would agree with him, that in selecting a place for a Naval College regard should be had first to the climate, and secondly, to the physical advantages offered for the training of cadets in their future profession; and he thought that any Government would pause before expending a large sum of money, if it could be shown that the place selected did not offer all the desired requirements. Now, in selecting Dartmouth as the site of the Naval College 877 for the training of cadets, the Government had without doubt selected what they thought was the best site, but he believed that a calm consideration of all the facts would induce the Government to re-consider their determination. There were several questions which demanded to be settled before the site for such a College as that now proposed should be erected. In the first place, the situation should be healthy; in the second, it should afford the cadets an opportunity for boating and shipping practice, and generally of familiarizing themselves with the details of their profession; and, in the third place, it should be centrally situated and should have ample railway accommodation to meet the requirements of cadets who come from all parts of the country. The place chosen by the Admiralty had not one of these advantages. The Report of the Committee appointed by the Admiralty showed that conclusively; and he would detain the House only a few minutes whilst he read a few extracts from the testimony of medical officers on board the Britannia before the Committee. Mr. Eugene de Merie, Surgeon, R.N., long resident on board the Britannia at Dartmouth, said, in answer to Question 218—What is your opinion of the climate of this place?—It is relaxing. I do not think it bracing enough. My friends and people I know coming from Torquay to see me here, say they find it more relaxing than Torquay.Q. 219. It is more relaxing than Torquay:—Yes. I believe that is because it is so much buried between two hills.Q. 220. Is there any difference in the climate or air on board the Britannia and the climate of the cricket-field?—There is.Q. 221. Is it apparent to you?—It is generally pretty apparent when you go on shore. It is much warmer there than it is on board ship.'The witness went on to say that when the boys went on shore for an hour's recreation, one-third of them simply sat about the beach. They did not care to go up the long hill to the playground. Dr. Dalby, R.N., said—There was an objection to the river, because the sewage of Dartmouth emptied itself into it; and, of course, with the tide it came up as far as the proposed site, and in that respect the river all the year round was objectionable.He further said—Q. 527. With regard to the sewage of the town of Dartmouth, is it a fact it is drained by sewers opening into the river?—Yes.Q. 528. Are you sure of that?—Quite certain; there are few cess-pits. The sewer from 878 the Sick-quarters Hospital comes right down into the river.Q. 529. There is a drain into the river then?—The drains generally are carried into the river. There are very few cess-pits.Q. 532. Do you think that that could produce any sensible effect upon the water here?—I am inclined to think that it might.Sir Alexander Armstrong, R.N., Medical Director General of the Navy, also said—Q. 2051. Have you formed any opinion as to the climate of Dartmouth, whether it is prejudicial or not to the cadets?—I should think that Dartmouth is not the place I would choose for a training ship myself, because I think it is in a harbour which is very much sheltered and surrounded by high land, and it has not the cheerfulness about it which would make it suitable for a training ship. I think it is relaxing, and that the whole of that part of Devonshire is relaxing.Q. 2052. You know, doubtless, that the Britannia was for some time at Weymouth?—Yes; she was at Weymouth, I know.Q. 2053. You would probably have no objection to the climate of Portland?—Portland, I should say, was very good.Q. 2056. Are you of opinion that the West of England generally is objectionable as a place for the training of cadets?—I think that better sites might be selected. I think that the West of England, as everybody knows, is a relaxing climate.Q. 2057. Is that relaxing climate, in your opinion, objectionable, in respect of health, to the boys?—I should think so, certainly.Q. 2058. Are there not differences of opinion as to whether the relaxing nature of the climate is bad for the boys, or not?—I think I should be disposed to put the boys in a more invigorating climate.Q. 2059. Have you any objection to the anchorage of Dartmouth in itself?—Well, I think, for the reasons I have stated, Dartmouth is not a favourable locality for a training ship.Q. 2060. That is because it is relaxing?—Yes; and I do not think that the sanitary state of the town is very favourable. I am not at all sure that the drainage is in a satisfactory state; there has been a great deal of isolated scarlatina and other disease amongst the people there; measles, smallpox, and so on. I believe that the drainage is defective in the town itself.These opinions alone would be sufficient to condemn Dartmouth as a site for a Training College for naval cadets. Indeed, one was at a loss to see what special advantages Dartmouth possessed in any respect as a site for such a College. It was objectionable in its situation with regard to the sea; for at Dartmouth the cadets could have scarcely any proper facilities for making themselve acquainted with naval or maritime matters at all, there being hardly any opportunities for seeing either ships or commerce. It would have been better 879 to select a place where the naval cadets could at least see a ship. From year's end to year's end Her Majesty's ships were never seen at Dartmouth. Not a merchantman approached. It was not even a boating place. The tides were strong, squalls very heavy, puffs of wind uncertain and sudden in the harbour, where regular little whirlwinds blew. If no accidents happened to the cadets, it was because the boats were half-decked, well-ballasted, and under-masted. He could not see the slightest benefit which could possibly result from establishing a College at the spot proposed, because there would be no chance of imparting to the students the practical knowledge they stood in need of. Again, to build a College at the extreme end of England would entail enormous expense upon the relatives and friends of those who were to enter, and that was an important consideration. Several high authorities, amongst them Lord Hampton, had asked the Admiralty to re-consider the matter, and he would point out that this was in no way to be regarded in the light of an ordinary school. Candidates for admission were required to undergo a medical examination before being sent to the Britannia. Why, after that preliminary examination, send down healthy lads to a place where their health would be undermined? The First Lord of the Admiralty said he had received suggestions as to the site all along the coast from the River Orwell to Penzance, and that a Committee of gentlemen had been appointed to inquire into the merits of the various places, the result being that upon official Reports four places were selected for the consideration of the Admiralty—namely, Portsmouth, Poole, Portland, and Dartmouth. [Mr. HUNT: It was not a Committee, but an official inspection.] At all events, four or five places had been spoken of; but he maintained that Dartmouth, which was the place selected, did not possess advantages superior to those to which any of the other proposed sites could lay claim. Portsmouth, being a garrison town and seaport, it was already felt there were circumstances rendering it undesirable that the training ship itself should any longer continue there, and those objections, it was almost needless to say, would be much stronger in the case of a Naval College. Neither the First Lord 880 of the Admiralty, who visited Poole during the Whitsuntide Recess, nor the Naval Lords, were favourably impressed with that place. Branksea Island could not be thought of, because the boys would be devoured by mosquitoes. Then they came to Portland, where it was said the sea was rough and the boys would get drenched if they went out. There was a convict prison there, and the country about was said to be so limited and unsuited for purposes of health or re-creation, that it was really the last place that could be thought of for the site of a great and important College. In fact, the College would simply be in the neighbourhood of a great quarry. Now no one would think of establishing the College at Portland, but it should be remembered that the harbour was landlocked, and that in going round the bay they arrived at Weymouth—the borough he (Mr. Edwards) had the honour to represent—[Laughter]—hon. Members might laugh, but the fact was that Weymouth presented everything that was desirable for the establishment of such a College. It had a most magnificent harbour, consisting of a wide, spacious, and open bay, extending to nearly 5,000 acres of beautiful clear deep sea water, upon which the boys could at all times enjoy boating, while at Weymouth they had a charming situation, and beautiful walks. It was said that when the Britannia was there before, the boys got drenched when in boats in the harbour; but that was 12 years ago, before the Breakwater was finished, and that state of things no longer existed. Weymouth had now one of the finest harbours in England, where the boys would have every opportunity of seeing Her Majesty's ships. The Channel Fleet sometimes went there, the Great Eastern was occasionally in the harbour, and there was every advantage that could be desired. Dr. Alexander Armstrong, while condemning Dartmouth altogether, declared in his evidence before the Committee that Weymouth was very good. He could not see, therefore, why Dartmouth should be taken with all its disadvantages, and Weymouth, with its fine harbour, should be neglected altogether. The convict establishment was on the extreme sea-side of Portland, and a man might live at Weymouth all his life without knowing it was there at all. It might as well be said there were convict 881 establishments in London. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty congratulated himself on having selected a site which had beautiful surroundings; but the College was to be 300 feet above the sea-level, and who could imagine naval cadets being placed in such a position as that. Why, it was eminently absurd. What had induced the right hon. Gentleman to adopt such a site for a Naval College he was totally at a loss to understand, and believing that a better site was to be found at Weymouth, he begged to submit his Resolution for the consideration of the House.
To leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "before establishing the proposed Naval College at Dartmouth, it is desirable to consider further the advantages offered by other places,"—(Mr. Edwards,)
§ MR. EVELYN ASHLEY
said, that the inhabitants of Poole took considerable interest in this question, because they had been put into a flutter of excitement by more than one visit from the Lords of the Admiralty within the last few months. Notwithstanding, however, that a gift of land had been offered at Poole, the Lords of the Admiralty had determined not to go there—a decision which he hoped was not absolutely final. As to the sanitary question, why, he would appeal to the hon. Member for Christcburch, who represented one of the leading sanatoria of England adjoining Poole, whether the district was not renowned for its healthy situation? It possessed other advantages—ready access to the sea and an excellent harbour—which, if it were not for a slight obstruction caused by mud at its mouth, would be one of the finest harbours in the kingdom. Poole was also very handy in relation to the dockyards at Portsmouth, and, as far as railway communication was concerned, although not like Clapham Junction, it was infinitely more advantageously situated than was Dartmouth. The only particular objection that had been urged as against Poole as a site for the Naval College, was the great mosquito bugbear; but that was as groundless as the other objections, 882 for he could assert from his own personal experience that at Poole the mosquito was unknown, although in sultry weather there might be a few midges. The Admiralty had been offered a large gift of land at Poole, and the value of that might very well be applied to deepening the harbour, in lowering the bar which formed the obstruction at the mouth to which reference had already been made. In that way Poole might be made available not only as a site for a Naval College, but also for a harbour of refuge. If Poole were not to have the preference, he certainly thought Portland or Weymouth had higher claims than Dartmouth, that Ultima Thule which was 300 feet above the level of the sea.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he ventured to differ from the two hon. Members who had just spoken. Having seen a great many of his constituents on the subject, he had come to the conclusion that the very best site that could be chosen for a Naval College was the Isle of Wight. The objections to Portsmouth would entirely vanish if the College were placed at the Isle of Wight, and he trusted that the Admiralty would give that site their best consideration with a view to its ultimate adoption. There was one site which could now be procured coming down to the water's edge, which would give the cadets an opportunity of seeing a deal of shipping from time to time, and the advantage, both with a view to healthiness and other matters, was most desirable. He was quite sure both the hon. Gentleman who brought forward the question and the hon. Gentleman who represented Poole had quite overlooked the advantages of the Isle of Wight.
said, as he had the honour to represent the division of the county in which Dartmouth was situated, he could state that he had himself carefully inspected the proposed site of the Naval College, and he thought it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a place more thoroughly adapted to the object in view. It possessed the advantages laid down by the Committee. There was easy access to the water, it was near to a good anchorage with a close harbour, and it was removed from a large town. Already considerable expense had been incurred in providing buildings for the 883 use of the cadets at their landing-place, opposite to the Britannia, such as a gymnasium, a large fives' court, and bowling alley, a boat-house, and other buildings of a substantial character. The climate was satisfactory, and he would remind hon. Members that the East wind did not blow in Devonshire with that rigour and frequency observable in some districts, and that, especially in such weather as we had just gone through, was an advantage. The medical officers had reported that the health of the cadets at Dartmouth was good, the hospital being almost untenanted at present, and that the climate had had no bad effect on them, a fact of which the Committee in their Report made especial mention. The hon. Member for Weymouth (Mr. Edwards) placed much reliance on Sir Alexander Armstrong's evidence; but the acquaintance of the latter with Dartmouth appeared to be of the slightest character. It appeared from the evidence, taken before the Committee, that he had only visited the Britannia three times, about an hour each time, and during the vacations, when the boys were not there, and could not be examined; and Sir Alexander had formed his opinion upon erroneous returns made to him. The corporation of Dartmouth since 1858 had spent upwards of £16,000 in the improvement of the drainage, and in other sanitary works, and the sewage of the town was carried out beyond low-water mark to the sea. The death-rate in 1872 was only 180 per 1,000. The town was small, containing only 5,000 inhabitants, and that again would be an advantage; in fact, the size of the place was the objection he had to Portsmouth, because in a large town the students would be subjected to numerous temptations which it would be better they should be free from. The objections raised to Dartmouth were founded on misapprehension, and the site was in every respect most favourable for a Naval College.
SIR LAWRENCE PALE
denied that the climate of Dartmouth was relaxing, like that at Torquay. There were greater differences of climate in Devonshire than in almost any other county in England. He could say from personal knowledge that the site at Dartmouth was by far the most beautiful and the healthiest that could be selected in the 884 whole kingdom. It was 300 feet above the level of the sea, with a magnificent view of the Channel up and down; it faced the south-west, and was bounded by the Dartmoor Hills, the climate of which was as bracing as any part of Scotland. The harbour afforded every facility for training the cadets, and at all tides, which could not be said for Portland; and besides that, it was far from the contaminating influences of large towns. The hon. Member for Weymouth, no doubt, had duly represented the sentiments of his constituents in this matter; but he (Sir Lawrence Palk) felt confident that what had been stated would in no way induce the Admiralty to alter the selection which they had been fortunate enough to make. There were facilities for obtaining 40 acres more of land if required. The railway accommodation to Exeter was very good. There were two fines from London to Exeter, and very shortly there would be a third, but no doubt the slowest train in the kingdom was between Exeter and Dartmouth, but nothing serious had yet happened from it. He hoped the Admiralty would persevere in their intention of building the College on this site.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, this was not a political question, not could it be said it had only two sides, for, as far as he could see, it seemed to be a four-sided question, the merits of which were advocated from all sides of the House; but he must bring it back to the special point of the responsibility of the Government in the important matter of the choice of a site. The right hon. Gentleman would have to balance the advantages of the four or five sites which had been suggested. He would have to show that the proposal to establish this institution at Dartmouth was wise in itself, and if he decided to adhere to Dartmouth, he would have to show that the opinions expressed by Sir Alexander Armstrong and the others with respect to the sanitary condition of that site were mistaken. He would also have to justify the establishment of a Naval College at an elevation of some 300 feet above the water, and generally the selection of such a place as Dartmouth in preference to the other sites which had been proposed. Objections had been made to the sanitary condition of Dartmouth, to its elevation above the sea, to its railway communications, and its 885 general want of facilities for training cadets as compared with other places which had been named; and, while meeting those objections, the right hon. Gentleman would have to substantiate his position that Dartmouth was still the best and most convenient site that could be chosen for the purpose. As to the suitability of Dartmouth, on the grounds mentioned by the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Lawrence Palk), perhaps he (Mr. Childers) might describe Dartmouth in the language of poetry, slightly altered, as a place—Where every prospect pleasesAnd only trains are vile.He believed there was no precedent for such a proposal. However beautiful the site might be, the place was exceedingly inconvenient. There was another important point to which he would call attention, and that was whether, on the grounds which had been stated, it was expedient to make the great change involved in establishing such a College on shore. The Duke of Somerset caused an inquiry to be made through Admiral Ryder, as to whether it would be convenient to substitute a College on shore for the Britannia; and, at that time, the majority of naval officers recommended that there should be an institution on shore for the training of naval cadets. The Duke of Somerset was, however, succeeded in office by Mr. Corry, who, above all men, had studied the question with the greatest care, and he arrived at a conclusion contrary to that of the Duke of Somerset. Acting under the advice of Sir Alexander Milne, the present First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, that conclusion was carried into effect, and upwards of £20,000 was spent in fitting up two ships for training purposes. [Mr. HUNT: £17,000.] The direct expense might be £17,000, but the gross cost, he believed, was between £25,000 and £30,000. It was inevitable that the Committee appointed to look into the arrangements should take evidence on this point, and those who advocated this building on shore were in favour of what they invariably called a College, to which were to be sent young men of 14, 15, or higher ages. In other countries—in France and the United States—these buildings were, strictly speaking, Colleges for young men of 17 and 18. But the Committee's recommendation was not that there should be 886 a "College," but an institution on shore to which youths should be sent as soon as they were 12 years of age—the nearer 12 the better—and where they should remain until they were 15; in other words, it was proposed to establish an institution for boys of 12, 13, and 14. Instead, therefore, of training the young men from the age of 15 to 21, as in other countries, this would be a preparatory or lower school for boys of the average age of 13. He asked the House whether—now that the Britannia, as a training ship, was working perfectly well—Parliament would be justified in putting the country to the great expense of building what would be a large preparatory school, similar to ordinary preparatory schools elsewhere, where boys went of 12 and 13 years of age? Such a course as that was not justified by one of the witnesses examined before the Committee. The scheme was almost certain to fail, and then there would be a large building thrown on their hands which could not be used for any other purpose. On these grounds he thought his right hon. Friend ought to wait before committing Parliament to what was at least a premature and ill-digested project.
§ MR. HUNT
, knowing that Dartmouth had been disfranchised and that Weymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, and the Isle of Wight had their advocates, had expected to stand alone, and had been agreeably surprised by the support of two hon. Members for Devonshire. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) upon the Motion had raised the larger questions as to whether there should be a College on shore at all for the education of cadets, and as to whether the age at which boys were to be sent to that institution was the right age. For his own part, he certainly was not prepared to have those larger questions raised then, after the discussion which took place upon them when he moved the Navy Estimates. In that discussion, he dwelt upon the matter at some length, and he certainly thought the House had accepted the view that the training of cadets in the Britannia should cease and that there should be a building on shore. His right hon. Friend had alluded to the expense of building a College, but not to the expense of training cadets on board the Britannia, except as regarded 887 the cost of the ship itself. The Return moved for by the Secretary to the Admiralty would put the House in possession of the facts; but he might state that the gross cost of the ship was £35,000 a-year, which included the maintenance of the ship and of the ship's company, and also the instruction of the cadets on board, the present number of the cadets being 116, as compared with 100 last year. That was in addition to the £17,000 spent upon the Britannia. He ventured to think that the education, if conducted on shore, would be more economical than on board the Britannia. As to whether this was a school or a College, it seemed to him a question of terms. The school at Eton was called Eton College, and boys were sent there even at an age younger than that of the boys who were to be educated at the proposed institution at Dartmouth. Therefore, it was matter of little consequence whether it was called a school or a College. The real question was, whether these cadets ought to be trained on board ship or in a College on shore? No doubt there was a difference of opinion on the subject. A great many naval officers clung to the notion of a ship, but the majority of the younger officers had made up their minds that the education could be better conducted on shore, provided it was supplemented by training at sea on board ship. It was proposed accordingly, on the recommendation of the Committee, that during three summer months in their last two years the cadets should be sent to sea in a training ship. The question had been gone into with care by a committee of naval officers, medical men, and distinguished University men, who examined witnesses; and the unanimous conclusion of the Committee was that the Britannia ought to be given up and training on shore substituted. The combination of military discipline with school studies was too great a strain on youthful minds; and on that ground anyone who read the evidence would be satisfied that the Committee had come to a sound conclusion. When he paid his first official visit to the Britannia, the first thing that struck him was that the boys were kept at too great a stretch from morning to night, except during the comparatively short period they were allowed to go on shore; and the opinion of this Committee coincided with his impression 888 that the strain on the boys ought to be relaxed, and that they ought not to be subjected to the discipline maintained on board a man-of-war. For these reasons, he entirely agreed with the recommendations of the Committee that the Britannia should be given up, and that there should be established on shore a College, or—if his right hon. Friend preferred the phrase—a school. At first, he was not in favour of selecting Dartmouth as the site, mainly on account of its remoteness, and while he still held that to be an objection, he did not regard it as being insuperable. Every possible site between the Orwell and Penzance had been carefully considered, and he had come round to the belief that—as he stated in introducing the Navy Estimates—on the whole, Dartmouth was the best site that could be selected. Since the Navy Estimates were introduced, Sir Ivor Guest had, in a most handsome way, offered to present to the Admiralty a site for the College near Poole. He took an early opportunity of visiting the proposed site, accompanied by two of his non-Naval Colleagues, and the opinion he formed was that the site was not an advantageous one, on account chiefly of its distance from the sea. The Admiralty Yacht had to he out in a not very pleasant anchorage, and the passage into Poole Harbour was found to be a very tortuous one. Not caring to decide a question of this kind on the opinions formed by landsmen, he requested two of his Naval Colleagues to visit the spot, and, having done this, they pronounced a most decided opinion that the site would not be advantageous for the purpose. Next, his hon. Friend the Member for Weymouth (Mr. Edwards)—who in this matter most thoroughly performed his duty to his constituents—proposed the adoption of a site near Weymouth, which, he urged, would possess none of the disadvantages which had been alleged against Portland early in the Session. As the only object of the Government was to get the best possible site, he asked the opinion of his Naval Colleagues upon the one proposed by the hon. Member for Weymouth, and they pronounced it to be objectionable and unsuited to the purpose on account mainly of its close proximity to the town and its unsheltered position seawards. They considered it even inferior to the 889 Portland site, which had been previously proposed and decided to be unsuitable. It therefore appeared to be impossible, in the teeth of that opinion, to accede to the proposal of his hon. Friend. A great deal had been said that night for Dartmouth, and with respect to the remarks which had fallen from his hon. Friend, he was struck with the adroitness with which passages in the evidence of some of the witnesses had been picked out to support the claim of another place; and in the evidence, too, of the same witnesses to whom he was himself going to refer as supporting the claim of Dartmouth, no sword dancer could have shown more agility than his hon. Friend had displayed in skipping between the questions and answers of the witnesses. On reference to the evidence of the same persons it would be found that one of them, Dr. Conolly, the surgeon of the Britannia, stated that the climate of Dartmouth was a little moist and relaxing, especially in the winter. He gave his hon. Friend the benefit of all that; but on the witness being next asked the question, whether the climate was so moist or relaxing as to be prejudicial to the health of the boys, his reply was—"Not to any great extent, and I do not think that the climate could be improved." His hon. Friend also quoted in support of his case the evidence of Mr. Dolby, another naval surgeon, who had served on board the Britannia; but if he had proceeded further with this gentleman's evidence he would have found that, in his opinion, based upon experience, the climate of the place was good. Such was the evidence of the witnesses which had been quoted in opposition to the building of the College at Dartmouth. Then, as to the Medical Director General, he was opposed to Devonshire generally on account of the relaxing nature of the climate, but in a Report since made by him on the subject, he now, without departing from that opinion, said that Dartmouth was the most suitable site that could have been selected for the purpose in the neighbourhood; the soil was of a light character, the position commanded a picturesque view of the harbour and of the surrounding country, the access was easy for boating purposes, and the distance from town was sufficient to prevent any evil effects that might be apprehended from the drainage, 890 while the elevated position of the site rendered the climate there less relaxing than it was in the valley. Two medical gentlemen, Mr. Busk and Dr. Vaughan, selected for the purpose because of their medical and scientific knowledge, surveyed the site, and their report was, as to climate, that it was in all respects suitable for the intended purposes, and appeared to afford the most perfect drainage, being widely remote from any apparent source of insalubrity; the water supply was abundant and good, and in a sanitary point of view the situation seemed to possess all the necessary advantages. Some objection had been raised to the site as being too elevated. He thought that objection was made by Gentlemen who had not visited the spot. He had been there twice, and the beauty of the situation could not well be exaggerated, and the access to the water-side was easy. When, however, doctors disagreed upon theories, it was desirable to turn to the evidence of persons of experience. He referred to that of two officers who had held commands on board the Britannia while she was lying in Devonshire waters, and who agreed in thinking the Dartmouth site the best that could have been chosen. One of them, Admiral Corbett, spoke of the Dartmouth site as healthy and desirable, and of the boating as safe. The former captain of the Britannia, Captain Foley, reported that no better site could be selected than that chosen at Dartmouth. He added that during his command he never thought that any sickness among the cadets was owing to the relaxing nature of the climate. Captain Foley also pointed out its advantages for boating, and concluded by saying that he knew no site in England that offered so many advantages. That was strong testimony, and, as his hon. Friend had done his duty, he would, he trusted, admit that the Admiralty had also done theirs in coming to the conclusion that, on the whole, Dartmouth was the best site for the new Naval College.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
contended that the right hon. Gentleman, the First Lord of the Admiralty, had not met the case which had been brought forward on behalf of Weymouth or Poole. The reasons given by the right hon. Gentleman by no means sufficed to satisfy the House as to the superiority of Dartmouth. 891 The right hon. Gentleman had read several testimonies in favour of that site which had not been laid on the Table of the House. If those opinions were so favourable, why were they not laid before the House? He wished to call attention to the fact that Dartmouth was within 14 or 15 miles of Torquay, which was one of the most relaxing climates in England, and was now found to be too relaxing even for consumptive patients. He asked whether it was proper that on the evidence adduced an expenditure of this kind should be entered into, and an institution like this built in a remote part of England? He certainly hoped the Government would consider the matter very fully before they plunged into this expenditure, and satisfy the House, not only that Dartmouth was a better site than those mentioned by hon. Members, but that it was the best site that could be found for the purpose. If his hon. Friend would divide the House on the matter he would support him.
§ MR. FLOYER
said, that there was unquestionably great difference of opinion in regard to Dartmouth, but that he had not heard one word said against Weymouth, even by the First Lord of the Admiralty.
§ MR. FLOYER
said, he was not referring to the site, but was speaking on the score of health. As to communication, there was no town in the South of England which was so accessible as Weymouth; but, on the other hand, Dartmouth was further off, and very difficult to reach conveniently. He could not understand, from a naval point of view, how Dartmouth could have been selected in preference to Weymouth, because the safety of the roads at the two places would not bear comparison, the latter being protected in all weathers by the magnificent Breakwater at Portland, and he hoped, therefore, the Government would re-consider the matter.
said, that several hon. Members had tried to depreciate Portsmouth, and that showed that the advocates of the other sites felt that Portsmouth was the most formidable rival. They had not received evidence that either Dartmouth or any of the other 892 places were particularly suitable for a Naval College, and he believed it would be best if some site were selected in the neighbourhood of Portsmouth, which had many advantages not possessed by other places. It had an excellent dock for building ships, and a harbour for training ships. It had all the advantages of a rural position, and it would not be open to the charge of having a relaxing climate. It was surrounded by fine scenery, accessible by railroads, and within easy reach of the dockyards. As to health, the mortality tables for Portsmouth were as low as those of any town in the kingdom. Several excellent and beautiful sites for a College might be obtained there, and among them was one opposite Stokes Bay. A large number of influential men in the neighbourhood were strongly in favour of selecting it as the site for a Naval Training College. Lord Anson strongly recommended it on account of the salubrity of the air.
§ SIR FREDERICK PERKINS
put in a claim for Southampton. No town which had been mentioned in this discussion was equal to Southampton with regard to its advantages.
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY
thought our naval cadets should be trained in accordance with the traditions of our Navy. His native county had been the nursing-place of the greatest naval heroes of England. He was therefore glad that the Government had selected Dartmouth as the site for this Naval College, and hoped they would adhere to it.
§ MR. STACPOOLE
said, he would vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Weymouth (Mr. Edwards) because under the terms of it, Ireland, which had good ports, would have a claim to consideration. They would find no difficulty in getting a suitable site somewhere in Ireland, if they gave themselves the trouble to look for it.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, it was perfectly clear that if every hon. Member who represented a seaport thought fit to place his views on this question before the House a very considerable portion of the time of the evening would be absorbed. It appeared to him to be impossible for the House to judge which of the various places suggested by hon. Members was the best site for this College, because the evidence given to the House was only partial. He therefore 893 thought they ought to confine themselves mainly to considering the actual site chosen by the Government. If the House thought the Government had chosen the best site, it was the duty of the House to vote against the Motion of the hon. Member for "Weymouth. If, on the other hand, the House thought the Government had not shown that Dartmouth was the best place, he thought the House ought to support that Motion. He was perfectly unprejudiced with regard to this matter, but, having heard the evidence pro and con, and especially the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty, as regarded the salubrity of Dartmouth, he had come to the conclusion that on that ground the selection was not satisfactory. The evidence with regard to the relaxing nature of the climate had been uncontradicted; and it was very desirable that an institution of this kind should be placed in a bracing and healthy place. He would therefore vote for the Resolution of the hon. Member for Weymouth.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 147; Noes 135: Majority 12.