HC Deb 08 July 1875 vol 225 cc1205-8

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £1,322,069, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expenses of the Dockyards and Naval Yards at Home and Abroad, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1876.


suggested that as this Vote and Vote 11 (New Works, Building Machinery, and Repairs) contained much controversial matter, that at that hour a fair opportunity would not be afforded to Members who were anxious to express their opinions on the subject. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Admiralty would consent to postpone the consideration of these Votes.


said, that on a former occasion, when he was attempting to express his opinion to the House on the Navy Estimates, after having his statements either directly contradicted or treated in a manner which was on the shady side of courtesy, he was told that he had expressed those opinions because he was connected with yachting. If he had ventured to intrude upon the attention of the House simply on that account he should have been guilty of a gross act of presumption; but as for 40 years he had held a Board of Trade certificate which qualified him to take charge of a merchant ship to any part of the world, if he was not entitled to speak in the House on nautical questions he wished to know who was. The Committee would be surprised to hear that the reproof was administered to him by an ex-First Lord of the Admiralty, the junior Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen), who all his life up to a few years ago never heard of a ship, and who, as far as one could judge from his public career, had not increased his knowledge during the time he held office. It was somewhat absurd that a right hon. Gentlemen should with official assurance, coupled with official want of knowledge, rebuke old sailors for talking about questions which they understood; but if the right hon. Member for the City of London was prepared to get up in his place and state that he was of all men in the House most qualified to give an opinion upon nautical subjects, and that those who had been acquainted with such questions for upwards of half a century were bound to hold their tongues and listen to him, then he (Mr. Bentinck) would sit down abashed.


said, he would regret it very much if he had passed the bounds of courtesy in the remarks to which allusion had been made. If he was warm it was not because the hon. Member attacked him, but because, consistently with what he had done on many previous occasions, the hon. Gentleman depreciated the English Navy to a degree which astounded all the officers who had knowledge of the service. Although the hon. Member was acquainted with the Merchant Navy and held a certificate of the Board of Trade, he could not on that account claim to set his opinion above that of the advisers of the Admiralty, who were naval officers and scientific men of the highest distinction. He had never attempted to set up his opinion; but what he had done when he was at the Admiralty was to take the best advice which he could get from those who were qualified to give it. It was because the hon. Member had on many occasions sought to convey to the Committee that he knew more than others of the construction of ships of war and of naval tactics that he (Mr. Goschen) ventured, to express himself, perhaps too warmly, that what must guide them was the opinion of the responsible advisers of the Admiralty; but he regretted if, in pointing out the position of the hon. Member, he had in any way exceeded the fair bounds of discussion.


thought that the best way would be to proceed with the Votes in their regular order.


appealed to the First Lord not to take Votes 6 and 10 at that late hour, as they involved the shipbuilding policy of the Government, and it was impossible, at that late hour, properly to discuss the question; and at that time at night it would be practically like sitting with closed doors.


reminded the right hon Member that the discussion of Vote 10 was put off in April at his instance, and the shipbuilding policy of the Government had been under discussion all night. He had taken the opportunity to state what the policy of the Government was, and he should have thought that it could hardly be wished that the same question should be again discussed in Committee.


observed, that the discussion of Vote 10 had been put off because the hour was too late to give opportunity for a proper discussion.


hoped that a proper opportunity would be given for discussing the construction of those ships which were now being built.


said, that they surely should have the opportunity to discuss the policy of the Government which had only just been developed; and he must say that he did not approve of the plan for building small Inflexibles, because it seemed like a return to the system of building ships of the Warrior class with armour only for a central battery. He begged to move that the Chairman do report Progress.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Samuda.)


thought that as there was time to discuss one Vote they might apply it to the discussion of another; but if the Committee were of a different opinion he would consent to Progress being reported.

Question put, and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.