HC Deb 01 March 1875 vol 222 cc995-6

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether it is true that the Admiralty has entered into a Contract with a firm of Shipbreakers for the sale of a considerable number of wooden vessels of Her Majesty's Navy; and, if so, whether any public notice of the intention to sell was given; and if he would state to the House why the ships were not offered for sale by public auction, according to the late practice of the Admiralty; whether the Purchase Department made the Contract in question, as usual; and, if not, who made the Contract; and, whether he would lay upon the Table of the House a list of the vessels sold and the contract prices?


Sir, the Purchase Department has agreed with Messrs. Castle for the sale to them of 35,000 tons of old ships at various rates per ton, according to the class of ship. No public notice was given of the intention to sell, except by statement in the House last year as to the desirability of disposing of unserviceable ships, which led to Messrs. Castle's proposal. No particular ships were named in the agreement with that firm; but a schedule of ships has since been made out, and will be part of the formal contract. Ships have been sold by the Admiralty of late years in three different ways—namely, by public auction, by tender, and by private treaty, and experience has shown that the best terms have by no means always been obtained by auction sales. If the hon. Gentleman likes to move for a copy of the contract, it will be laid on the Table.