HC Deb 15 July 1875 vol 225 cc1477-8

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether, in view of the recorded official statements of the late Senior Sea Lord of the Admiralty (Sir Sidney Dacres), that he did not think "they (the ironclads) could cruize in company with safety;" of the Admiral lately in command of the Channel Fleet (Sir Thomas Symonds), that "they (the ironclads) are unable to save themselves under the commonest circumstances;" of the Admiral of the Fleet (Sir George Sartorius), that "they (the iron-clads) are equally unfit for the exigencies of coast or distant warfare, and for the blockading of an enemy's ports impracticable; "and, of the late Chief Constructor of the Navy, that he did" not see why an ironclad should not be just as efficient a sailing ship as the best of our wooden frigates," he will, before laying down more ironclads of any of the present classes, especially those of the "Inflexible" type, to again solicit, as in 1859 and in 1867, competitive designs from the most eminent Naval architects, and refer such designs for examination to a Select Committee?


It would be almost impossible, within the proper limits of an answer on such an occasion as the present, to deal with so argumentative a Question as that of my hon. and gallant Friend. He has given certain quotations from the evidence put before the Committee on Designs of Ships of War; but they are scarcely intelligible without their context. In the case of the extract from the evidence of the late Chief Constructor of the Navy, the omission of certain qualifying words in previous answers makes a most important difference in the sense in which the evidence is to be understood. None of the competitive designs submitted to the Admiralty in 1859 and 1867 were adopted, and I do not propose to follow the course taken in those years.