§ MR. ANDERSON
, in rising to call attention to the circumstances under which the yacht "Mistletoe" was run down, and to the subsequent proceedings; and to move—That as the Officers appointed by the Admiralty to inquire into the circumstances attending the collision between the 'Alberta' and the 'Mistletoe' appear to have reported, and the Board of Admiralty by compensations have practically acknowledged, that those in charge of the 'Alberta' were in the wrong, Her Majesty's. Government ought, when life had been lost through that wrong, to have taken further steps to vindicate public justice,said, before he entered into the main question he had rather a grave charge to make against the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, in respect of an incident which transpired on Friday. It would be recollected that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) asked the First Lord of the Admiralty why the Report of the Inquiry had not been laid on the Table along with the other Papers, and that the First Lord of the Admiralty replied that it had been designedly left out. He (Mr. Anderson) then asked the right hon. Gentleman whether the Report of the Inquiry had not been one of the Papers which had been asked for by himself and promised by the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the right hon. Gentleman curtly replied, "No." What had previously occurred was this:—The hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. T. E. Smith) put the following Question to the right hon. Gentleman—Whether he had instituted an inquiry into the circumstances of the collision between the Alberta and the Mistletoe, and, if so, whether he would state the result of such inquiry to the House? This Question was followed on the Notice Paper by his (Mr. Anderson's) own Notice of a Question to ask, whether any inquiry had been instituted by the Admiralty into the circumstances; and, whether the First Lord of the Admiralty would lay on the Table of the House any Report or Correspondence on the subject, and whether any payments had been made, &c. The right hon. Gentleman asked, leave to reply to both these Questions at once, and said he intended to lay on the Table of the House 1487 Papers which would give both hon. Members the information they asked for. The information which he (Mr. Anderson) asked for was the Report of that inquiry; therefore, that was part of the information the right hon. Gentleman promised. He now said it was designedly kept back. Did the right hon. Gentleman design to keep it back when he gave the answer to the two Questions? If so, his reply was decidedly disingenuous, for it left the impression on his mind that it was to be furnished. If the right hon. Gentleman did not then mean to keep it back, but afterwards changed his mind, thinking it necessary in the interests of the public service to keep it back, he ought to have informed him (Mr. Anderson) of his intention, for they had been in communication, both verbally and by letter, and never until the last moment did the right hon. Gentleman give him the slightest idea that this important Report was not to be laid upon the Table. It was only when the Papers were actually produced, and when it was too late, that he (Mr. Anderson) found out what had actually been done. This was an instance of a mode of answering Questions by right hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side against which he felt bound to protest. There had been another instance of it that night. Some right hon. Gentlemen appeared to think that flippancy was wit, and tried to evade every question that was put to them; but, however much the House liked a smart answer, at the same time it liked truthfulness and honesty a great deal better. He felt bound to say that in this matter the Prime Minister frequently set a very bad example; and it was not in keeping with the dignity of the House that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House should put himself in such a position that a respectable newspaper—not a Party paper—should be able to say of him that in answering a Question "he fenced and dodged." He would not himself use such words of any hon. Member; but he hoped for the future right hon. Gentlemen would take a more dignified tone in replying to Questions. The question had been asked—why was the whole matter brought up now? Newspaper articles had been written, asking—"Why rake it up now, seeing that the whole thing is settled, and every- 1488 body satisfied?" It had been said that the Notice of Motion had been put down in consequence of the Papers having been produced; but it was all the other way. The Notice of Motion had not been put down in consequence of the Papers having been produced, but the Papers had been produced in consequence of the Motion having been set down. No doubt the question had been settled to the satisfaction of the Admiralty, which had adopted its own course, settled everything its own way, and used the nation's money to buy off everybody who could possibly raise obstacles, by instituting a prosecution, making things pleasant in that way to a certain extent. Something more than that, however, was wanted by the public. They were not altogether content to see public justice perverted, and the nation's money used as hush money, merely to screen persons in high places. When the nation learned what had been done, he thought it would approve of the course he had taken in exposing it. He did not believe it was too late for redress even now; but, even if it should be so in this case, calling attention to the matter might prevent similar occurrences in future. The House was aware of the circumstances of the case. On the 19th of August last, on a fine day, in a clear roadway, and in broad daylight, Her Majesty's yacht the Alberta, going at 15 knots an hour, ran into the Mistletoe, which was almost stationary, going at the rate of only two or three knots an hour, and steering her course to Ryde. The occurrence could not be better described than in the first telegram to the Admiralty, which said—The 'Alberta,' in crossing over last evening with the Queen on board, came into collision with and sank the yacht 'Mistletoe' of 120 tons, belonging to Mr. Heywood. One lady and the mate went down with the vessel. The master picked up in a drowned state, died on board the 'Alberta.' One man with arm broken was sent to Haslar. Mr. Heywood is at Admiralty House, under the care of Dr. McEwen, where he was joined by Mrs. Heywood last evening. The crew on board Flag Ship. The Queen, after seeing that arrangements had been made for the care of the survivors, left for Balmoral. Divers are endeavouring to recover the bodies of Miss Peek and the mate, and vessels are going out to raise the vessel. The 'Alberta's' cutwater is all knocked away.Now, this accident occurred in Stokes Bay, where the Royal yacht had abun- 1489 dant room to go wherever she pleased; and there was not the slightest ground for doubt as to what ought to have been done. The Rule of the Road at Sea was perfectly clear. Article 15 said that if two ships—one a sailing ship and the other a steamer—were proceeding in such directions as to involve the risk of collision the steam-ship should keep out of the way of the sailing ship. Article 16 said that every steam-ship when approaching another ship so as to involve risk of collision should slacken speed, or, if necessary, stop and reverse. By Article 17 it was laid down that every vessel overtaking any other vessel should keep out of her way; whilst Article 18 set forth that where, by the above rules, one of two ships was keeping out of the way of another, that other should keep her course, subject to the qualifications contained in the article following—Article 19—which said that in obeying and considering these rules due regard must be had to all the dangers of the navigation, and to any special circumstances which might exist in any particular case to render a departure from the above rules necessary in order to avert immediate danger. Article 20 said that nothing in these rules should exonerate any ship, or the owner, master, or crew, from the consequences of any neglect to keep a proper look-out, of the neglect of any precautions which might be required by the ordinary practice of seamen or special circumstances of the case. Now, he thought that those rules made the case so clear that it was impossible to get over it at all. Captain Welch undoubtedly said that the Mistletoe changed her course, and ran in a course somewhat parallel to that of the Alberta. If so, one of these rules would apply, because the Alberta would have been in the position, mentioned in Article 17, of overtaking another ship, and was bound, therefore, to have kept out of the way of that vessel. Thus, even if it was true that the Mistletoe changed her course and ran in a parallel course, the Alberta was in every case bound to keep out of the way of the other vessel. In his statement as to the course of the other vessel, however, Captain Welch was almost, if not altogether, uncorroborated. The only independent witness was Captain Parker, of the Moonbeam, who said there was no change on the part of the Mistletoe from taking 1490 the starboard tack until the moment of collision, and that under no circumstances ought the Royal yacht to have got near. Then the question naturally arose, What were the probable causes that led to the disaster? He found that on the bridge of the Alberta there were six persons—Prince Leiningen, Captain Welch, General Ponsonby, Captain Fullerton, and two quartermasters. There were no sails or anything to disturb their view forward excepting the funnel, which could not possibly obstruct the view of all these men. It was impossible, if they were looking forward, that they could not have seen the Mistletoe. Prince Leiningen said he was watching the Victoria and Albert, which was coming up in the rear, and there was too much reason to believe that the others were engaged in doing the same thing, until, suddenly, one of the quartermasters touched Captain Welch on the shoulder and called his attention to the Mistletoe; but it was too late, for a collision was then unavoidable. Then there was the usual bustle, and Prince Leiningen and Captain Welch did all that was possible—which was nothing—to prevent the collision. The order was first given to stop, and then to reverse the engines, and the boats were lowered. It was, however, impossible, as already said, to avoid a collision, and the only question was whether the Alberta should run into the Mistletoe's broadside, or strike her in a slanting direction. Captain Welch said he had noticed the Mistletoe a mile away, and if he had continued to watch her afterwards there would have been no difficulty in keeping out of the way. But a remark made by Captain Welch to one of the persons beside him on the bridge (Captain Fullerton) would show pretty much what led to this disaster. "What bad manners," he said, "these people have, driving across the bow of the yacht with Her Majesty on board." And that was said of a vessel a mile off, and which could have not got out of the way had she attempted to do so. Prince Leiningen, from his evidence, was evidently ignorant of the Rules of the Road at Sea, or thought they did not apply to Her Majesty's yachts or the Royal Navy, for he said that the duty of the Alberta was to "give way" to a sailing vessel, and that if a sailing vessel ran into her on the starboard tack—on which tack the Mistletoe was 1491 —the sailing vessel would have to bear the blame. Now, there were two fallacies in that statement. The first was the assertion that it was his duty to give way to a sailing vessel. To give way merely meant to pass by the stern, and might be done with very close shaving. That was not his duty at all, the rule stating that his duty was to keep out of the way, which was a totally different thing, and not saying a single word about sailing ships on the starboard tack giving way. That was a new invention of Prince Leiningen himself, so that he really did not know what was his duty on that occasion. Commander Sullivan said—"It was difficult, from the uncertain movements of yachts, to navigate the Solent at the speed at which the Royal yacht was necessarily obliged to proceed; "but when asked what was the necessity for such a speed, he gave no satisfactory reply. In fact, it was only too evident that there was a sort of idea among all naval men that all mere yachts and vessels of the Mercantile Marine should get out of the way, whether they were able to do so or not. Well, two of the bodies—those of Miss Peel and Captain Stokes—were found, and it became necessary to have an inquest. Upon that, he (Mr. Anderson) should have some very strong observations to make. He meant to say that there was a deliberate plan for the frustration of public justice in that inquest, and that that deliberate plan rested partly on officials of the Admiralty. He did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the First Lord of the Admiralty) knew anything about it even now; and still less that he had known anything about it at the time; but he believed that the officials of the Admiralty did, and that the right hon. Gentleman ought to know it now because he had better means of finding it out than he (Mr. Anderson) had. Besides, it was the First Lord's business to find out all the circumstances before he took the exceptional course which he did. Now, he should like to explain that the Royal Yacht consisted really of three vessels. There was the Victoria and Albert, of which Prince Leiningen was the commander; there was the Alberta, which was a tender to the Victoria and Albert, and was commanded by Captain Welch; and there was the Elfin, which again was a 1492 tender to the Alberta, and was under the command of Captain Balliston. It was quite evident, therefore, that, one ship being a tender to the other, the captain of the main ship became captain of a tender the moment he went on board that tender. So that Prince Leiningen became commander of the Alberta over Captain Welch the moment he went on board that vessel. That was a most important point, which appeared to have been lost sight of by the Admiralty. There were several irregular matters which required to be noticed in connection with the inquest. First, the coroner was a solicitor to the Admiralty. In other words, it was a man in the Admiralty's pay who acted as coroner. There was no occasion for that irregularity, as there were two men, one the deputy coroner at Gosport and the other the coroner at South sea, not in the pay of the Admiralty, either of whom could have acted as coroner; and it would have been far more decent if the coroner, who was a paid servant of the Admiralty, had declined to serve in a case in which the Admiralty and Naval officers were concerned. That was the first step of which he had to complain in connection with the inquest. The next was in getting the jury summoned, and respecting that, he could prove a fact which the House would hardly credit—that Captain Balliston, of the Elfin, the Alberta's tender, and thus one of the captains of the Royal Yacht, and who was an intimate friend of Captain Welch's, actually went to the summoning officer to suggest that certain names should be put on the jury. He (Mr. Anderson) had a letter from the summoning officer acknowledging that Captain Balliston came to him and suggested one name. He (Mr. Anderson) had been told by several of the jury, for he had been down to Gosport himself and had seen nine of the jurymen. ["Oh, oh," and laughter.] Well, this was a very important case and as he was about to make strong statements he had thought it desirable to make sure of the facts. He had seen nine of the jurymen, highly respectable men, and they were very indignant at the way in which they had been treated, and the way in which they were made the instruments of a perversion of justice by placing two men on the jury who ought not to have been there. He did not blame the summoning officer 1493 for acting on the suggestion of Captain Balliston, because he had not entertained any suspicion about the matter. Mr. Saxy, one of the two jurymen in question, and the person Captain Balliston suggested to the summoning officer, was an intimate acquaintance of Captain Welch, was actually visiting at his house between the times the coroner's jury was sitting—visiting one of the men who were implicated, and whom the jury were about to exonerate or condemn. Another man who ought not to have been on the jury was a Mr. Mumby, who described himself in his trade circulars as soda-water manufacturer to Her Majesty the Queen, and claimed public patronage on the ground that he supplied Her Majesty at Osborne Her Majesty's yacht, the Alberta itself, and 50 or 60 Queen's ships, of which he gave a list in his circular. He was, in fact, a mere creature of the Admiralty, claiming the patronage of the public as he did as purveyor to the Admiralty. Could these two men be supposed, in such an inquiry as this, to have been independent men? But that was not all, for Mr. Mumby had previously claimed exemption from serving on juries, on the ground that he was a chemist and a stamp distributor. Only last year he was put on a jury and fined £10 for not attending, and he claimed a remission of the fine for the reason referred to, and got it. What, then, induced him to change his mind and serve on this jury? Could anybody doubt that some private influence had been used to induce him to serve on this particular jury—the very last in the world on which he ought to have served? So much for the composition of the jury. Well, the jury having been summoned, the coroner took the wholly irregular course of appointing the foreman, instead of leaving it to his fellow-jurors to elect him, or as was sometimes done suggesting the first name on the list; and the person appointed was Mr. Mumby, whose name did not stand first on the list, and, indeed, for some time had not been on the list at all. He was informed, too, that during the inquest the coroner acted with the most unmistakeable bias, and was constantly speaking in private to the foreman of the jury. When the jury wanted to put a question it had to be put through him, and he twisted every ques- 1494 tion, until at last they were obliged to put them themselves. More than that, the Deputy Judge Advocate of the Fleet attended the inquiry regularly, and sent up written questions to be put to the men of the Mistletoe. The men of the Alberta were obliged to give evidence in the presence of their officers, and Captain Balliston sat immediately beside the witness as he was giving evidence, and actually whispered to him. That occurred during the first two days, until the jury were obliged to complain and insist on his being removed. The result was, that the Alberta men were afraid to give honest evidence—they always looked to their officers to try whether they could not get a cue what to say. There was one other matter he had to refer to, which was perhaps even worse than the gross irregularities of which he had spoken. It was this, that Prince Leiningen took upon himself—he hoped without authority—to read to the jury, evidently for the purpose of influencing them, this letter from the Queen—I wish to say how admirably I think every one behaved, and with what rapidity the boats were lowered, and officers and men jumped overboard to save lives, and I believe no one would have been saved otherwise. It was most sad that, notwithstanding the noble efforts of Captain Fullerton and others, one lady lost her life; that the poor old man should have died on board, and that another man was lost.Now he (Mr. Anderson) had no objection to that letter in itself; it was a most feeling and considerate letter, but not a letter which ought to have been read to the jury to influence them, and which could not but have had an unfavourable and improper effect. When the jury came to consider their verdict, notwithstanding all this, they agreed upon a verdict that the collision was caused by the negligence of the officers in charge of the Alberta; but, just before that verdict was given in to the coroner, the two jurymen who had been named desired to know what the result of giving such a verdict would be; and when they were informed that the result would be to put some of the officers of the Alberta on their trial, they immediately withdrew from the verdict and stood out against it. The consequence was that the jury were unable to agree—11 being for and 2 against the verdict. The matter was accordingly remitted to Winchester Assizes for further consideration, where a Charge was made by Baron Bramwell. 1495 But long before this matter came up at Winchester, a very remarkable letter was published, which he regretted to be obliged to allude to at all, but he found it necessary to do so, as it had an important bearing on the subject. It was a letter written by General Ponsonby at the request of the Queen, to the Marquess of Exeter, and was as follows:—It has appeared in the course of the recent inquiry at Gosport that it is a common practice of private yachts to approach the Royal yacht when Her Majesty is on board, from motives of loyalty or curiosity. It is evident that such a proceeding must at all times he attended with considerable risk, and in summer, when the Solent is crowded with vessels, such manœuvres are exceedingly dangerous. The Queen has therefore commanded me to request that you will kindly assist Her Majesty in making known to all owners of yachts that she earnestly hopes this practice, which may lead to lamentable results, should be discontinued.He had spoken favourably of the former letter, but he must condemn that letter entirely. He did not believe it came from the Queen, for there was nothing of the Queen's spirit in it. He did not believe the Queen would send out such a letter without the consent of her responsible Advisers, or some of them, and he should like to know which of Her Majesty's Ministers was responsible for the production which he had just read. In the first place, it was not true that the "common practice" existed of private yachts approaching near the Royal yacht. No doubt an insinuation had been thrown out by the officers of the Alberta at the inquest that Mr. Heywood was endeavouring to get near the Queen's yacht in order to see Her Majesty; but that insinuation completely broke down. There was no such attempt, and it was very well known in the Solent that sailing yachts were too much afraid of Captain Welch and the rate at which the Queen's yachts were sailed ever to attempt to go near his vessel. This letter was not only very unfortunate in its language, but it came out at an unfortunate time—namely, between the time the first jury were unable to come to a decision and the time they were taken in hand by Baron Bramwell at Winchester Assizes. In the meantime a second jury was sitting, and it appeared necessary that an explanation of that letter should appear. That explanation was as follows:—As some misconception has arisen in respect to the letter addressed by Colonel Ponsonby to 1496 Lord Exeter, we have been requested to state that it was written three weeks ago, before there was any reason to expect a second inquest, and was intended solely to convey the simple request contained therein; that any expression of opinion on the cause of the accident was studiously avoided, and no blame whatever was imputed to the men of the Mistletoe or any other party.Even if written before there was any idea of a second inquest, it was quite well known that the first jury had not given their decision and had been remitted to Winchester to give it, and that its purport could not fail to influence any decision at which that jury might arrive. He said that letter did insinuate that the accident was caused through the common practice of private yachts approaching Her Majesty's yacht. The explanation said, it contained nothing but a simple request therein. That was just what he complained it did not do. It was not like any letter which the Queen had ever written before. Her Majesty had always shown that she deeply sympathized with her subjects in their sufferings and their griefs. Three was not a word of sympathy, however, in the letter of which he spoke, not a word even of caution to her own officers, nothing but an insinuation that it was the common practice of private yachts to approach too near the Royal yacht, and a request that they should not do so in future, which was tantamount to saying to all the yachtsmen of England that in future they had better keep out of the way, or they might expect to be run down. He repeated he should like to know which of Her Majesty's Ministers was responsible for that letter? He had grave doubts whether it would ever have been issued without their advice. He expected an answer to his question, and hoped to be told not only whether it was done with the advice of the whole of the Ministers, but whether any one of them knew anything about it. Whoever did it, whether one of Her Majesty's Ministers or not, he had no hesitation in saying he should be severely reprimanded for it, for in all his experience during the whole of Her Majesty's reign he knew nothing that had so jarred on the feelings of her people as that letter. The next matter he had to refer to was the jury being put under Baron Bramwell at Winchester. There had been considerable discussion about what the learned Baron had said to the jury in his Charge, and it would be remem- 1497 bered he had written a letter saying that what was imputed to him was not correct. That explanation, however, did not remove the doubt which existed, and it was not, to his mind, satisfactory, because it contained a statement of what he intended to say, rather than a point-blank denial of what he was reported to have said. It seemed clear that the learned Baron had spoken in an unguarded manner, and it must be remembered that it was not what Baron Bramwell intended to say, but what he did actually say, that had had its effect in influencing the jury; and a letter signed by 11 of the jury had been sent to him (Mr. Anderson) at the time, expressing distinctly the impressions conveyed to them by what Baron Bramwell did say. However, he should not dwell further on that point. Then came the second inquest. The body of the mate of the Mistletoe was found, and at the inquest consequently held, a jury was taken from Port sea, he believed it was taken from the neighbourhood of the dockyard, and was largely composed of men connected with the supply of the Navy. He did not, however, complain of the constitution of that jury, but he should have to make a few remarks on their verdict, which was founded mainly upon certain words of Mr. Justice Patteson, which were quoted to them by the coroner. The learned Judge laid it down that—It was perfectly clear that no man could be indicted for manslaughter for an accident if he acted to the best of his judgment and ability. He was not criminally responsible for a mistake or an error of judgment; but if, on the contrary, a person placed in a situation of great responsibility and trust conducted himself with gross negligence and inattention, then in case of death he was unquestionably guilty of the crime of manslaughter.That appeared to be principally what the Portsea jury founded their verdict upon, but Judge Patteson went on to say—If the man did not display due care and caution, he was liable to the charge of manslaughter.The jury found that the deceased had met his death by drowning, and that it was brought about by the accidental collision of the Alberta with the Mistletoe, but they added a rider to their verdict which entirely contradicted it, and altogether contravened the last part of the 1498 ruling of Mr. Justice Patteson. It was as follows:—The Jury wish to express their opinion that there was an error of judgment on the part of the navigating officer of the 'Alberta,' and that they think that a slower rate of speed, during the summer months especially, would be more conducive to public safety, and that also there should be a more efficient look-out.He contended that this rider was a declaration that there was too great speed and too little outlook, and that these amounted to a want of "due care and caution" on the part of those responsible for the management of the Alberta, and yet, instead of finding a verdict to that effect, which by Judge Patteson's ruling involved a charge of manslaughter, the jury returned one which had the effect of an acquittal. Thus they had one jury twice dismissed unable to agree, and the Admiralty officials at Portsmonth knew perfectly well why they did not agree, and how that disagreement had been brought about. Then they had a second jury giving a verdict with a rider attached to it, which verdict was in opposition to the charge of Judge Patteson, which was quoted for their guidance. The Admiralty under these circumstances were bound by every consideration to make further inquiry. They were bound to have a court martial, or, if they objected to that, they were bound to have had a public trial which would have satisfied the public. They might have had a trial commenced on a magistrate's warrant, but, failing that, they might have had a court martial. He understood it was the rule of the Service whenever there was an accident to one of Her Majesty's ships that there should be a court martial. The Alberta lost her cutwater, sustained other damage, and had to go into dock to be repaired. Was not that an accident that demanded a court martial? But instead of taking that course, what did the Admiralty do? They held a secret inquiry. He thought a secret inquiry was a thing utterly unworthy of, and, indeed, a disgrace to this free country. It was expressly got up, one would say, for the very purpose of defeating justice, and he for one should like to see that atrocious system altogether abandoned. The inquiry was conducted by three officers, the public being left in ignorance as to the result, for their Report was carefully suppressed, and the only way one could judge at the 1499 conclusion arrived at was that a letter was addressed by the Secretary to the Admiralty to Admiral Elliot, in command at Portsmouth, in which he was asked to inform Captain his Highness Prince Leiningen and Staff Captain Welch that—Having given careful consideration to the Report of the officers who formed the Court, and concurring generally in the finding at which they arrived, my Lords have come to the conclusion that, as the attention of Prince Leiningen is frequently and unavoidably taken up by attendance on the Queen during the time Her Majesty is on board the 'Alberta'in crossing the Solent, the conduct of the navigation is properly left to the Staff Captain, and that the latter officer must be held responsible for it.He should like to know whether the Court of Inquiry came to that finding, or whether it was only the conclusion drawn from their Report by the Lords of the Admiralty? In either case he condemned it as being an untrue finding, and an unworthy attempt to make a scapegoat of Captain Welch for the purpose of screening Prince Leiningen. He had already shown that Prince Leiningen, being commander of the ship of which the Alberta was the tender, became the commander of the latter the moment he went on board. It was not his business to attend on Her Majesty; that was the business of her suite. If he were not to attend to his ship, why was he made captain? Prince Leiningen himself made no such claim of exemption from responsibility. To his credit he had in a manly and straight forward manner come forward and claimed the responsibility, and after that he was surprised that the First Lord of the Admiralty should have assented to such a finding. It was untrue also as a matter of fact, for Prince Leiningen at the time was not attending on the Queen. He was standing on the bridge with Captain Welch, and gave all the orders for stopping the engines and lowering the boats, as he himself stated at the inquest, showing that he was acting as captain at the time, and was in every way responsible for what had occurred. He wished to know, if Prince Leiningen had been on board his own ship, the Victoria and Albert, where there was no Captain Welch upon whom to cast the blame, where the responsibility for such an accident would have fallen? The letter of the Lords of the Admiralty went on to say— 1500My Lords further consider, in accordance with the finding of the Court, that the course steered by the 'Alberta' should have been such that she could not have been brought into collision with the 'Mistletoe' through any alteration of course made by that vessel.That view was a correct one, according to the Rules of the Road, at Sea, which he had already laid before the House. The Alberta had no right whatever to be in the neighbourhood of the Mistletoe, because, going at a speed of 15 knots an hour, the slightest touch of her helm would have taken her far away from the latter; whereas the poor Mistletoe, going at two or three knots an hour, could not possibly have got out of the way. Then the letter proceeded—My Lords cannot therefore acquit Staff Captain Welch from blame in not having exhibited sufficient care and attention so as to have avoided all risk of accident, and he is to be reprimanded accordingly.The only objection he had to that passage was that, in his opinion, the reprimand should have been given elsewhere. The letter then went on to say that—My Lords are satisfied that after the collision every effort was made with the utmost rapidity for the preservation of life;but then it proceeded—I am to add that in dealing with this matter my Lords have taken into consideration that Staff Captain Welch has now for a great many years been in charge of the 'Alberta' on the occasion of Her Majesty crossing the Solent, and that up to the time of the unfortunate occurrence above referred to, no accident of any kind has taken place, and that his proceedings have given entire satisfaction.Any one reading that last paragraph would suppose that the Lords of the Admiralty intended that it should be inferred that Captain Welch had not previously been concerned in a collision, and that they wished to give him what the Americans termed "a clean record." It appeared, however, that previously to his obtaining the command of the Alberta, Captain Welch was for many years in command of the Fairy, and he (Mr. Anderson) understood that accidents were not unfrequent in the case of the Fairy. He was informed that on one occasion the Fairy ran into a yacht called the Zouave, and had to be beached in consequence. On another occasion she went into a packet-boat called the Solent, and on frequent occasions there were damages done by the Fairy by the 1501 system of close-shaving. The rest of the Papers laid before the House in connection with the subject consisted of the Correspondence that occurred during the process of buying off the surviving sufferers so as to preclude the possibility of a public trial, because a public trial would no doubt have brought forward awkward facts, and the Admiralty desired to suppress these facts. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman would make a point out of these offers having been made as displaying a gracious consideration for the poor sufferers. He thought, however, that he should be able to show that these offers were intended to become the basis of a mere business transaction, and that what was meant was simply to buy off the sufferers and to prevent them from prosecuting their claims publicly, because the letters contained a clause which entirely took all grace out of the transaction. The clause to which he referred was this—Of course, in accepting this sum you will undertake not to bring forward hereafter any claim upon Her Majesty's Government on behalf of yourself or your son in respect of your loss.In his view that clause took away all grace from the offer. He did not wonder at the poor widows accepting those terms, or at the steward of the Mistletoe making a good bargain for himself, but he confessed he was surprised at a gentleman of Mr. Heywood's wealth and position accepting the sum of £3,000 not to proceed further in a case where life had been lost. Had only his vessel been destroyed, he could have understood Mr. Heywood's accepting pecuniary compensation for the damage he had sustained; but where life had been lost, he was surprised that he had not insisted upon a public trial being had, which would have brought the whole of the facts clearly before the public, and have enabled them to judge where the blame really lay. The public would not be satisfied until some further inquiry had been held, and under the circumstances he was compelled to condemn Mr. Heywood severely for his part in the transaction. He was anxious to press upon Her Majesty's Government that even now it was not too late to institute a court martial to inquire into this matter. He had heard to-night from the First Lord of the Admiralty that Captain Welch had never asked 1502 for a court martial; but he (Mr. Anderson) held in his hand a letter from Captain Welch himself in which he distinctly stated that he had asked for a court martial. The letter was a long one, therefore he would only read the one sentence in it which was in point, and was to the following effect:—Had my request made at the time for a court martial been complied with, the public would at once have known the truth.The letter was dated "Ischia, March 17," and was signed by Captain Welch. It therefore rested with the First Lord of the Admiralty to show that the statement in the letter was untrue. They were told that Captain Welch had refused to receive the reprimand of the Admiralty. If so, then let him have a court martial, but let Prince Leiningen be included in it also. The First Lord in this matter had acted exactly as he had done in the case of the Vanguard. He seemed to think that when he was satisfied, there was nothing else to be said. He said at the time of the accident to the Vanguard, that he had made up his mind as to the cause of the collision, and that nothing more was needed. He now virtually said that the Lords of the Admiralty had now made up their minds on this matter of the Mistletoe, and that the public had nothing to do but to pay the compensation and hold their tongues—the public had no right to complain of the perversion of justice, but had only to pay the bill. One would imagine that the right hon. Gentleman thought already that he was living under an Empress. ["Oh, oh!"] No doubt if they came to a division the subservient majority which backed up the Government would back them up again, and he had no hope in a division to carry the court martial he asked for. But he would warn the Government that the course they were following, however much it might bring success to them now, would redound to their discredit and bring ultimate disaster. He would be told he was doing wrong in bringing up the question at all, and that in doing so he could not help bringing discredit on Her Majesty. He entirely disclaimed bringing any discredit on Her Majesty. He did not suppose any discredit could come to Her Majesty through that inquiry, but discredit would come to the Government, and that was their due. But if discredit did come to Her Ma- 1503 jesty, it was not through, him it came, but through hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who had been doing their best for some time past to set Her Majesty in antagonism to the wishes and feelings of her people. ["Oh, oh!" "Divide!" and "Question!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite did not like to hear that. Why, if the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had been a Red Republican, he could not have done more in that direction than he had done. He knew that hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House considered him (Mr. Anderson) a Radical of very extreme views; but he was not anything of the kind. He disclaimed extreme views. He had received many letters from persons who were far more extreme than himself, and they had written condemning the course he had lately been taking. They wrote to him—"Why are you always attacking the Government?—the Government are doing splendidly. Let them alone; they are bringing discredit on the Monarchy; and if they continue to do that you will have the Monarchy swept away." ["Oh, oh!"] Those were not his views. He desired to preserve the Monarchy, and in order to do that he opposed the policy of the Government. He opposed their tarnishing the lustre of the Crown by the gewgaw and new-fangled title of Empress. He did not wish to tarnish the lustre of the Crown, and it was for that reason that he had called the attention of the House to the sending Her Majesty out of the country in an unconstitutional and altogether unprecedented manner, simply in order that she might not learn what the real feeling of the people was. For the same reason he brought forward this case, in which there had been a deliberate attempt made to pervert public justice, and it had been done in such a way as to make it appear as if it was done in order to screen a relative of Her Majesty. He believed that those persons who took that course in the servile idea of pleasing Her Majesty were altogether wrong, for it was his opinion that they had put a mean interpretation on Her Majesty's feelings and principles, and that Her Majesty would scorn to interfere with the course of public justice in order to screen either herself or any of her relatives. He begged, in conclusion, to move the Resolution which stood in his name.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "as the Officers appointed by the Admiralty to inquire into the circumstances attending the collision between the 'Alberta' and the 'Mistletoe' appear to have reported, and the Board of Admiralty by compensations have practically acknowledged that those in charge of the 'Alberta' were in the wrong, Her Majesty's Government ought, when life had been lost through that wrong, to have taken further steps to vindicate public justice,"—(Mr. Anderson,)
§ MR. HUNT
The hon. Gentleman who has brought forward this Amendment (Mr. Anderson) commenced his speech by saying that he had a serious charge to make against me, and I quite admit that if the facts of the case were as he has stated them, a very serious charge was made against me. But I beg to say that I think the hon. Gentleman has no foundation whatever for making that charge. The other day, without any Notice to me, the hon. Gentleman put a Question, as to whether I had not promised to produce a Paper which I was then refusing to lay upon the Table of the House. I think I might fairly have complained of such a charge being brought against me at the time. It was imputed to me that I had been guilty of a breach of faith in answering, as I had done, a Question put to me by another hon. Gentleman on the opposite side of the House; and if I did give the hon. Gentleman a curt answer, I must say I felt somewhat indignant at the form in which the Question of the hon. Member for Glasgow was put. I was asked, without Notice, whether I was not refusing to give a Paper which I had promised to give. Well, I thought I could trust to my memory as to what I had promised, and on referring to the Questions put on the Notice Paper, I am entirely confirmed as to my recollection. The hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. T. E. Smith) asked me whether there had been any inquiry into the circumstances of the collision between the Alberta and the Mistletoe; and, if so, whether I would state the result of such inquiry; and the hon. Member who has brought forward this Amendment asked me whether any inquiry had been made by the Admiralty as to the circumstances under which the yacht Mistletoe was run down in August last, and whether I 1505 would lay upon the Table any Report or Correspondence on the subject. My answer, I think, was this—I am speaking from memory—I said I would lay on the Table Papers which would give both the hon. Gentlemen the information they asked for. The Papers which I laid upon the Table answered the Question of the hon. Member for Tynemouth, for they showed that there was an inquiry, and also the result of the inquiry—namely, a reprimand of Captain Welch by the Admiralty. With regard to the Question of the hon. Gentleman, whether I would lay on the Table any Report or Correspondence on the subject, I have to say I laid the Correspondence on the Table. I never intended at that time, nor have I ever intended since, to lay upon the Table of the House the Report of the Court of Inquiry, and for this reason—Courts of Inquiry, both Naval and Military, are assembled very often to inquire into very delicate matters, and into personal relations between officers; matters which it is not desirable to bring before the public. They are held in order to advise the authorities, naval or military, on the matters which are referred to them, and it has always been considered inadvisable that the officers who compose these Courts should be fettered as to the advice they might give by the knowledge that their Reports and proceedings might be made public. Therefore, as a matter of general public policy, it has always been held that these Reports ought not to be produced. I should, however, have been extremely glad in this particular case to have laid the Report on the Table of the House. Indeed, I believe that, if I had produced the Report of the proceedings before the Court of Inquiry, even the hon. Member himself would have been satisfied with the course I adopted; but, on general grounds, I thought the production of the document would be mischievous as a precedent for the future, and accordingly I did not lay it upon the Table. The same course was adopted only the other day by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. He was asked to produce the Report of an inquiry into a military scandal, and he said that there was no objection to its production, except that, on general grounds, it was not desirable to produce Reports of that nature. The hon. Mem- 1506 ber says that we have held a secret Court of Inquiry, and that he has shown that some of the results of that inquiry were the instructions issued by the Admiralty; but if he had gone further, he would have found that the Admiralty instructions as to these inquiries are that, as a general rule, they should be held with closed doors, unless there were instructions to the contrary, and, therefore, that we only, in this particular case, followed what was the rule of the Service. If I had issued instructions, and the inquiry had, in consequence, been made public, I will answer for it that the hon. Gentleman himself would have been the first to say that I had endeavoured to influence the coroner's jury by showing what was the professional opinion upon the subject. That is the reason why instructions were specially sent down that the proceedings of the Court should not be made public. It was to prevent any interference with or influence on the coroner's jury. The hon. Gentleman has gone into the question of the proceedings of the first coroner's jury that was empanelled. He said that no doubt a good deal of what he would say to me would be new to me; and I confess that it was. I have not been down to Portsmouth to see any of the jurors who were summoned upon this inquest, or to make any other inquiries; but I would remind the hon. Gentleman that the coroner of Hampshire, who sat on the first case, is not a Crown officer, but is elected by the freeholders of Hampshire, and is the proper person to hold inquiries upon bodies that come within his jurisdiction. I presume, though I know nothing of the circumstances under which the men were summoned, that the usual course was followed, but, if not, it has nothing to do with me or with any other Member of the Government. As I have said, the coroner is an independent officer, elected by the freeholders of the county, and has duties to discharge towards those who elected him. Then what was my duty as head of the Admiralty in the matter? A coroner's jury not having been able to agree in the case of the inquest upon the first two bodies rescued from the water, I ordered a Court of Inquiry, and in doing that I did the usual thing and the Court was held in the usual manner. Nothing was done on the Report of the Court of Inquiry 1507 for many months, for this reason—that the jury not having been able to agree, the coroner adjourned the inquest until the next Winchester Assizes, so that it appeared to me to be right that the judgment of the Admiralty should not be known until the jury had been discharged at the Assizes. It so happened, however, that a third body was brought on shore and—I cannot but express my deep regret that such a loss of life should have taken place upon an occasion like this—it was taken into a different jurisdiction, that of the borough of Portsmouth, and a different coroner, and of course a different jury were assembled to inquire into the cause of the death of the person whose body was brought there. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman laid any blame upon the Portsmouth coroner; but, like the other one, he was not a Government officer or a Crown official, but was elected by those whose duty it was to choose him. This tribunal came to the conclusion that the death was accidental, though no doubt they appended a rider, in which they made suggestions as to the speed being too fast, and said that in navigating the vessel Captain Welch had exhibited an error in judgment, but they did not fix any criminal responsibility upon him. Then came the adjourned inquest held at the Winchester Assizes, and there the first coroner's jury had the advantage of the summing-up of a learned Judge (Baron Bramwell) upon the depositions; but after hearing his Charge they were unable to agree upon a verdict—that is, they failed to fix any criminal responsibility upon any one concerned. Thus two juries had been discharged, one with a verdict of Accidental Death, and the other with no verdict: and then it became the duty of the Admiralty to consider what course they should take in reference to the Report of the Court of Inquiry. They founded their judgment upon the Report of the Court of Inquiry, and they found in accordance with what has been read by the hon. Gentleman opposite, that Prince Leiningen's time being considerably taken up with personal attendance upon the Queen, the conduct of the navigation was properly left to the charge of Captain Welch. The hon. Gentleman has said that the Admiralty has endeavoured to screen Prince Leiningen; but that I indignantly deny. The hon. Gentleman has told us 1508 quite truly that Prince Leiningen is the captain, not of the Alberta, but of the Victoria and Albert. The hon. Gentleman is also perfectly correct in saying that when a captain of a principal ship goes on board a vessel which is a tender to that principal ship, his authority extends to that tender. It is true that he can take the command of the tender if he chooses. But it is not the practice under these circumstances for the captain of the principal ship to take the command of the tender. The practice is, that the navigation shall be in the hands of the captain of the tender, and that practice has prevailed with respect to the Alberta whenever Her Majesty is on board; and if the hon. Gentleman will look at The Navy List he will find that Captain Welch is there put down as the captain of the Alberta. The case; however, does not rest simply on the practice of the Service. As a matter of fact, Prince Leiningen, when in attendance on Her Majesty in crossing the Solent, is constantly in personal communication with Her Majesty, and cannot attend to the navigation of the ship. But the hon. Gentleman says that Prince Leiningen does not repudiate his own responsibility. Well, it is true he does not, any more than my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government repudiated his responsibility with regard to the issue of the Slave Circular which he had never seen; and, no doubt, Prince Leiningen did the same thing in the same chivalrous spirit. But, as a matter of fact, these orders with regard to steering were given by Captain Welch, and it was not until the collision was impending that Prince Leiningen rushed forward to give orders. Now it is all very well to say that Prince Leiningen is screened because he happens to be in a high position. If it were so, the hon. Gentleman's censure on the Admiralty, and especially on myself, would be well deserved. It is not, however, according to my notions of justice, that a man should be blamed who ought not to be blamed, simply because he holds a high position; and I maintain hat if, under the circumstances of the case, the censure of the Admiralty had alien on Prince Leiningen, it would have fallen on a man who was entirely innocent in the matter. But I will refer to the charge of Baron Bramwell, and ask the House to consider for a moment what it was he told the jury at the Assizes. He 1509 told them that if they found a verdict against anybody it could only be against Captain Welch, and that they must exonerate Prince Leiningen. The hon. Gentleman says, however, that Captain Welch demanded a court martial. All I can say in reply is, that such a demand never reached the Admiralty. I heard nothing from Captain Welch to that effect, and if he had demanded a court martial I would certainly have granted him one. I am perfectly surprised, therefore, to learn from the hon. Gentleman that he has a note in his possession, in Captain Welch's handwriting, in which he says that he demanded a court martial, for no such demand has reached the Admiralty. The hon. Gentleman went on to contend that the Admiralty ought to have ordered a court martial; and I do not undertake to say that there are not arguments in favour of the adoption of that course; bat the position of things is very peculiar in the case in which an inquiry has been held by a civil tribunal. This was not the ordinary case of a Court of Inquiry, and then the question whether a court martial should be ordered on that inquiry. But we had before us the fact that two coroner's inquests had been held in this matter under two different coroners, with an interval between them of a great many months, and that the juries failed to find any criminal responsibility against any officer of the yacht. One of these juries had the advantage of hearing the Charge of the learned Judge, and the other had come to the conclusion that the deaths were accidental, and it became a question under the circumstances—those two inquests having failed to fix criminal responsibility on any of the officers—whether any further inquiry should be ordered by the Admiralty. We could not resist the conclusion, not wishing to shrink from our duty, that a certain amount of blame attached to Captain Welch. We considered, in accordance with what appears in the Papers, that the course steered by the Alberta should have been such that she should not have been brought into collision by the alteration of course on the part of the Mistletoe. But while we were of opinion that Captain Welch was to a certain extent to be blamed, we gave weight to the fact that he had been engaged during a period of 27 years in 1510 the most arduous and responsible task of practically conducting the navigation of a ship with Her Majesty on board—a responsibility which was enough to try the nerves of almost any man in waters where the navigation is somewhat intricate and difficult, owing to the natural and loyal wish of Her Majesty's subjects to see Her Majesty, and to the number of yachts collected there for purposes of amusement. We were aware of all this, and while we felt that the discharge of Captain Welch's duties required the greatest nerve and coolness, we also knew that he had never yet given cause for blame on the part of the Admiralty. Under these circumstances we thought that justice would be done if a reprimand was administered to Captain Welch, who was the only person in fault. That was the course we adopted, and it is a course which I hope the House will approve.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he was sure the right hon. Gentleman, however much he might regret that the subject had been brought under the notice of the House, must feel that it was impossible to avoid that being done, seeing that the case was one which had excited so much public interest. But now that it was under the consideration of the House, hon. Members were placed with regard to it in a very difficult position; for they had no facts in connection with it officially before them, the Report or the finding of the Courts of Inquiry not having been produced. He knew the right hon. Gentleman had stated, and with truth, that it was unusual—[Mr. HUNT: Unprecedented]—well, he would say unprecedented, to produce the proceedings of a Court of Inquiry; but he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it was not also without precedent that one of Her Majesty's ships should have run down another vessel, however unfortunately, and that no inquiry should have been instituted into that calamity by the Admiralty, but a secret Inquiry, the result of which could not be known? He did not charge the right hon. Gentleman with not producing the proceedings or the finding of the Court of Inquiry; but it was, he contended, most unfortunate that the House was in the position that no single Member of it had any authentic access to the depositions in the case or to the evidence of the witnesses, except the right hon. Gentleman himself, and 1511 that they were obliged to depend for their information on which to arrive at a just conclusion on the reports in the newspapers. Now, he wished, on the present occasion, to confine himself to the administrative part of the question alone. The right hon. Gentleman, towards the end of his remarks, introduced to the notice of the House that which seemed to him (Mr. Goschen) to be the main point at issue—why he rested content with the Court of Inquiry without proceeding to deal with the matter by court martial? The House would observe that if the custom of dealing with questions of the kind by Courts of Inquiry was to be sanctioned and adopted, nearly every calamity might be withdrawn from the cognizance of Parliament and of public opinion. Let him suppose that in the case of the Vanguard the Court of Inquiry had not been followed by a court martial, the House would have been utterly unable to have dealt with the subject. It was a remarkable fact that there had been two or three other instances during the last six months which had also been dealt with by Courts of Inquiry, and that not only was the House ignorant of the proceedings of those Courts, but even of the finding of the Admiralty itself. An accident had happened to the Iron Duke, there was a Court of Inquiry, but the decision of the Board of Admiralty was not known. It might have been a small and unimportant thing; but the House was unable to judge of its importance, because they were unacquainted with the proceedings. In the same way, there was the case of theMonarch, in which there was a Court of Inquiry, with, as far as the House was aware, no further result. It was not only the practice to keep secret the proceedings of Courts of Inquiry, but he believed it was unusual for the Admiralty to state its finding on a Court of Inquiry; nor had their opinion in the cases he had mentioned been communicated to the country at large. In fact, they had not done so in the present case until the Papers were moved for. Now, he wished to point out why those precedents against the publication of the proceedings had grown up. They were generally considered in the light of preliminary inquiries only, which afterwards might lead to subsequent action, and which decided the Admiralty as to whether they should take any further 1512 proceedings or not. If they were to assume that Courts of Inquiry were intended to supersede or take the place of courts martial, they would make a great error indeed. "The object of Courts of Inquiry," it was laid down, "was to investigate in the first instance charges affecting officers." They were not in the nature of a judicial tribunal; they were simply so many officers gathered together to form a preliminary investigation to guide the Admiralty. Those hon. Members who had read the Papers would have observed that the officers holding the Court were informed that the proceedings would not be made public, but that that was not intended to prevent Prince Leiningen or Captain Welch from being present at the Inquiry. These were the instructions given by the Admiralty. These were two of the incriminated officers, and it might have been according to precedent that they were allowed to be present; but when Mr. Heywood applied that he also might be present at the Court of Inquiry, he was informed that he could not be permitted to attend—that it would be against the custom of these Courts of Inquiry. These circumstances existing, it stood to reason that the finding of a Court of Inquiry was an ex parte statement. In what position did the House of Commons find itself? They had before them the explanation given by Prince Leiningen and Captain Welch; they had the decision of the Admiralty upon the finding of the Court of Inquiry, while they were unaware of the evidence upon which it was founded. The Board of Admiralty said they concurred generally in the finding of the Court of Inquiry; but whether their finding was precisely the same as that of the Court of Inquiry there were no means of knowing, and the House never would know. Consequently, they must treat the matter as if no Court of Inquiry whatever had sat, and they had to deal simply with the decision of the Board of Admiralty. If the right hon. Gentleman censured, or if he had acquitted the officers, he had censured and acquitted them on his own responsibility, under the sanction of his Naval advisers; the House must hold him alone responsible. This was not a case like that of the Vanguard, where the right hon. Gentleman concurred in, or dissented from, or had over-ridden, the decision of a court martial; and in the 1513 position of affairs in which the House was placed, it seemed to him (Mr. Goschen) that the House could not come to a conclusion one way or another as to whether the decision of the Admiralty was right or wrong, because they had no evidence before them, except the reports in the newspapers. He almost regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had imparted into the discussions the Charge of Baron Bramwell in order to strengthen the verdict which he and his Naval advisers had arrived at. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to give a reason why he did not try the matter by court martial, which was very unsatisfactory—namely, that as two juries had been unable to agree to a verdict that Captain Welch or Prince Leiningen were criminally liable, he did not like to try them by court martial. The difference, however, was this. Captain Welch and Prince Leiningen might be professionally liable, although not criminally liable. In that he meant that they were responsible for their conduct in quite a different manner from the points of responsibility which would be raised against them in a charge of manslaughter, or even in a civil action. The great point was that justice should be done; but whether justice had been done, he professed himself, from want of means of information utterly unable to decide. If the Court of Inquiry had decided there was no case, then it would have been wise to drop the matter; but that Court decided there was a case. He thought the Admiralty might have proceeded to a court martial, and, indeed, for all they knew, the Court of Inquiry might have recommended a court martial. If there had been a court martial, many misunderstandings, he thought, might have been avoided. The ordering of a court martial, however, was a matter which so distinctly rested with the Executive Government, that he for one could not vote for a Motion which would direct the Government to hold a court martial. It was simply the duty of the House of Commons to watch the action of the Executive Government in the matter, and not to interfere or direct what should be done. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman thought, and he hoped the Naval Service thought, that the action which the Admiralty had taken was sufficient; but he ventured to say, with regard to the last letter which had been included in 1514 the Papers—namely, the letter from the Marquess of Exeter to the Admiralty, in which he informed them that Mr. Heywood had requested that he should express his hope that feelings which might anywhere have arisen in consequence of the lamentable accident might rest now and for ever—that letter was not entirely conclusive as to the manner in which the public might view this sad affair. He almost regretted that the Marquess of Exeter should have thought it necessary to send this letter officially to the Admiralty, or that it should be considered as an official document to be included in the Papers to be submitted to the House. Nothing could be more agreeable to their feelings than to think that Mr. Heywood was satisfied with the expressions of sympathy tendered to him by the right hon. Gentleman, and the pecuniary compensation for the loss of his yacht that he received from the Admiralty; but he should be sorry if the satisfaction given by the Government to Mr. Heywood were marred by any general feeling that the act was done with the view of having the matter hushed up. He could not agree with the hon. Member for Glasgow in calling the money which had been paid to Mr. Heywood hush money, and he was sure the House would vote the money—if not cheerfully, at any rate willingly—knowing that Mr. Heywood had lost his yacht, and that the money offered was simply a pecuniary equivalent. He also thought they would be glad, as no civil proceedings had been taken, and as Captain Welch had been censured by the Admiralty, that such civil proceedings had been avoided by voluntarily tendering the value of the yacht to Mr. Heywood; but no one in that House would think that it was purely a question affecting the Board of Admiralty, the officers of the Alberta, and Mr. Heywood. It was a question in which the officers of the Naval Service generally were deeply interested. They wished to feel—and he trusted that after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman they would be able to feel—that justice had been done, and that, the officers of the Royal yacht had been dealt with precisely as a lieutenant or captain in any other ship would have been. The officers of the Royal yacht had special privileges in some respects; but he was sure the right hon. Gentleman opposite would concur with him in thinking that it was most important in 1515 the interests of the Service, and in the interests of the Queen's ships, that in all cases of mishap equal severity should be shown, and that the navigating officer of the Queen's yacht should not be treated with greater leniency than would be extended, for instance, to the lieutenant of the Iron Duke. He thought the House would do well to support the right hon. Gentleman in any expressions he might use for the purpose of showing that all branches of the Service might expect impartial treatment. Holding the views he did, he could not vote for the Amendment, which appeared to prescribe further inquiry by a court martial. If the House saw that sufficient justice had not been done they had, in his opinion, the necessary information before them for forming a judgment. The main point to which he wished to call the attention of the House was that, in consequence of the course which had been pursued, they were unfortunately without any authentic record of the proceedings which had been taken in this unfortunate case.
§ MR. SEELY
said, that believing that impartial justice had not been done in the case, he would have no hesitation in voting with the hon. Member for Glasgow. Considering the high position of the parties, there ought not to have been the slightest delay in investigating the case—not the slightest suspicion that justice had not been done. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord had said that but for two inquests having been held a court martial would have sat in the case; but, from the manner in which those inquests were conducted, it was evident that everything had not been elicited which it was desirable to know, and there had been nothing on the part of the Admiralty excepting a Secret Inquiry. As regarded the first inquest, there had been no solicitor, no legal advice whatever, and he apprehended no cross-examination of the witnesses for the first three days—not even a nautical assessor until the last day of the inquest. Was it likely, then, that the facts of the case could have been thoroughly elicited? The conclusion arrived at by the jury at the second inquest seemed to him ridiculous, and one which would not commend itself to the country. Then, with regard to the secret Court of Inquiry, it was to be observed that the whole of the witnesses they examined were officers and men of 1516 the Alberta, with the exception of Mr. Heywood, not a single seaman of the Mistletoe being called. He did not think, therefore, any great reliance could be placed on anything which that Court of Inquiry had done. If the Alberta had been a merchant steamer, Captain Welch would unquestionably have been put on his trial for manslaughter; and, if she had been an ordinary vessel of the Admiralty, could it be doubted that a court martial would have been held? It was admitted by the Admiralty that Captain Welch ought to have kept out of the way, and yet he received a mere reprimand, the slightest punishment which the Admiralty could inflict. Such a punishment, in his opinion, was totally inadequate to the offence, and contrasted very unfavourably with what had been done in the case of the Vanguard. He thought he would be justified under all the circumstances in saying that an impression existed that impartial justice had not been done in this case; and that, if decisions of this sort were to be given by the Admiralty, a belief would in all probability arise in the naval service and in the public mind generally that favouritism had something to do with advancement and with getting men out of difficulties, and that interest in high quarters was more powerful than knowledge of a man's profession and the earnest discharge of his duty.
said, he really could not sit still and allow the extraordinary theory as regarded responsibility which had been placed on record in the Papers presented to the House, and enunciated in the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty, to pass unchallenged. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to him to have taken the responsibility off the captain's shoulders in the most extraordinary manner, for he allowed him to be divested of the responsibility after the collision had taken place; and if this theory was to hold good, they ought to have an entire change in the instructions to naval officers. As far as his (Admiral Egerton's) acquaintance with the Service was concerned, he considered the theory that the captain of a ship on stepping on board a tender was not responsible for her was utterly unwarrantable. He might, indeed he very often did, delegate the navigation to the master, or the officer of the watch, as he did on board his ship, but he did not thereby divest himself of the responsi- 1517 bility for the safe conduct of his vessel. It was plain, moreover, that Prince Leiningen considered himself to be responsible, because in one part of his evidence he stated that he was responsible for the safety of Her Majesty while she was on board, and how could he be responsible for Her Majesty's safety unless he was responsible for the vessel itself? As regarded the Court of Inquiry, the Admiralty were perfectly justified in holding an inquiry before the proceedings at the coroner's inquest were completed, and in keeping the result of that inquiry secret, because any finding on the part of a body of naval officers would have had a very prejudicial effect on the position of one party or the other if published before the legal proceedings were instituted; but after the coroner's inquest had been concluded, it would have been much better, and certainly more satisfactory to Prince Leiningen and Captain Welch, if a court martial had been held. According to what they had heard from the hon. Member for Glasgow, Captain Welch appeared to be of that opinion himself, though he could not tell whether Captain Welch entertained that opinion before as well as after he knew that he was to be reprimanded and Prince Leiningen was not. But Captain Welch seemed to feel that he was an aggrieved party. For himself, he did not believe that in this instance the prejudice had been in favour of the captain and against what used to be called the unfortunate master. There was not sufficient evidence before the House by which to form a decided opinion upon whom the fault lay; but he thought it had been clearly shown that the fault of the collision belonged to the Alberta. Whether it was to be attributed to Prince Leiningen or Captain Welch was one of those points which he thought ought to be cleared up. He did not agree with his right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) as to the Motion before the House. If he thought that it was in any way a direction to the Board of Admiralty to hold a court martial he should vote against it, because it was not the business of that House to direct the Executive Government in the course it ought to pursue. But he looked on the Motion rather as an expression of regret that some further steps had not been taken to vindicate public justice in that 1518 case. Prom that point of view he did not think that they need be precluded from voting for the Motion; but after the discussion which had taken place, he trusted the hon. Member for Glasgow would not think it necessary to proceed to a division.
§ Question put," That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 157; Noes 65: Majority 92.