HC Deb 12 March 1877 vol 232 cc1810-31

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


I must say, Sir, in rising to move the first Vote for Men—which will be the same number as in the previous year—that it is a great satisfaction to me to ask the House for a less sum than I did when I stood here last year on a similar occasion. It is a double satisfaction to me, because, in the first place, I never wish to make a larger demand on the British taxpayer than is absolutely necessary, and every reduction that can be made is in accordance with my views as an economist; and, in the next place, it is a satisfaction to me that the state of the Fleet is so far advanced since I addressed the House when the Navy Estimates were last before it, that it is quite safe for me to make some reduction in the sums required for the coming year. The Committee will remember that last year I made some very exceptional demands, which were very liberally responded to. The supplies then voted went a long way to satisfy those exceptional demands, and there is no necessity to renew them on the present occasion. The total amount of the Estimates for 1877–8 is £10,979,829, showing a net decrease in the current year of £309,043. Of this sum there is a charge of £168,820 for services connected with the Army Department in the conveyance of troops. On the other hand, the sums taken in the Army Estimates for the Navy amount to a larger sum than that taken in these Estimates for the Army, amounting to £291,343. Therefore, in order to ascertain what is the total cost of the Navy, I have to add the difference between these two sums—or £123,063 — when it is found that the total gross cost of the Navy is £11,102,892. I have, however, to deduct the sum of £217,000, credited as extra receipts and the contribution of the India Government—which is £5,000 less than the amount of extra receipts last year. We then arrive at £10,885,892 as the net estimated cost of the Navy for the current year. Out of the 19 Votes it will be found that there is an increase on nine of them, amounting to £134,084, and a decrease on 10, amounting to £443,127. The net decrease of £309,043 will about correspond with the decrease this year as compared with last in the amount taken under Vote 10, Section 2, for steam machinery and ships built by contract, while the increases and decreases on the remaining Votes almost counterbalance each other.

Having now for the last three years held the office of First Lord, which obliges me to make this annual Statement, it will probably be interesting to the House if I state what has been done in the shape of shipbuilding work and repairs during that time, and I am the more anxious to do so from the remark made the other night by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely), whom I do not now see in his place, to the effect that the Navy was now in no better state than when first I took it in hand. During the last three years 54 ships, excluding yard craft and other small vessels, have been laid down. Of these 4 are iron-dads, and 47 others are designed for fighting purposes. These latter comprise 13 corvettes, 8 sloops, 4 gun-vessels, 21 gun-beats, and 1 torpedo boat. Of the 54 vessels, 30 have been launched. Of these 30 again, six have been completed, 12 are in a forward state, and all it is estimated will be completed in the year 1877-8. Taking now the amount of tonnage calculated up to the end of this month, so as to complete the financial year, I find that during the three years there will have been built of armoured ships 37,000 tons, old measurement—28,500 in dockyards, and 8,500 by contract. Now, what does that amount to in armour-clad ships? According to the calculation of the Department the amount of armour-clad tonnage built within the last three years amounts to 10 Vanguards, or 7 Sultans, or 8½ Devastations. I think the hon. Member for Lincoln, if he was in his place, would admit that that is a considerable addition to the strength of the Navy. During the same period there will have been built of unarmoured ships, old measurement, 29,000 tons—namely, 13,500 in dockyards, and 15,500 by contract. Thirty-one sets of new boilers have also been ordered to be built, and have been actually completed in dockyards, since March, 1874, in addition to the completion of those ordered previously, and many other sets are now in hand. The new machinery for propelling ships constructed by contract during the same period amounts in value to 92,340 indicated horses, and consists chiefly of the new and expensive type of engines. The repairing work during the three years I have referred to has included the placing of new boilers in 48 ships and the partial completion of new boilers for 11 others. Of those 48, 28 were fighting ships and 8 iron-clads. I hope my right hon. and gallant Friend (Sir John Hay) will be satisfied that we have done something towards putting the ships which I ventured to call "dummies," by reason of their having defective boilers, into an effective state of repair. The question of training ships supported by voluntary contributions has not been neglected, but great encouragement has been given to the different societies who have taken in hand the training of boys for the Merchant Service, and though a great part of the expense of preparing these ships has fallen on the societies, considerable assistance has been given by the Admiralty in repairing and altering the ships. The Exmouth has been completed to replace the Goliath as straining ship for boys under the Forest Gate Society, and the Conqueror has replaced the Warspite under the Marine Society. The Nile replaces the Conway at Liverpool, the latter being too small, and the Frederick William replaces the Worcester in the Thames for the same reason. Then the Mount Edgecumbe, formerly the Conway, has been established as a new training' ship for boys at Devonport. The Clio has also been established in North Wales and the Worcester at Cork for the same purpose. So that, while not neglecting the interests of the Navy proper, we have done something towards satisfying the opinion of the House and the country that encouragement should be given to training establishments for the Merchant Service at different ports.

Having stated the amount of the tonnage, I now wish to show how far individual ships have progressed. The Alexandra has been completed and commissioned, and, as I have heard to-day, has just arrived at Gibraltar on her way to Malta. The Thunderer is now ready for commission. When we came into office she was almost complete, but we have improved her fighting efficiency by the introduction of hydraulic machinery, and this has caused some delay. Of course, the terrible calamity to which I alluded the other day contributed to delay her completion, but that is remedied so far as the ship is concerned. I am sorry to say that it cannot be remedied in other respects. Three ships for coast and harbour defence, the Cyclops, Hecate, and Hydra, were nominally completed, there being but little to complete them to make them ready for sea, but they are now absolutely ready for commission if required. Of course, I am speaking of ships which had attained a certain state of progress, but which were not available for service. Then the Dreadnought, the Temeraire, the Shannon, the Nelson, and the Northampton—three of which were in progress three years ago, and two of which I commenced myself—will, ac- cording to our Estimate, be completed in the coming financial year. Under these circumstances, I hope my right hon. and gallant Friend, even if some of the boilers in the commissioned ships are in want of renewal at the end of the year, will be satisfied, at all events, that we shall have something to take their place. Considerable progress, again, has been made in the Inflexible. She will be ready to have her engines tried this year, and will, I suppose, be ready for sea some time in the following year. The Ajax and the Agamemnon, too, have made some progress; the Ajax will, I hope, in the course of the year be advanced to 36-100ths, and the Agamemnon 44-100ths. A great deal has been said on many occasions as to the programme for shipbuilding in the Dockyards and by contract not being completed, and it has been said that although the Estimates look well on paper the actual results have not corresponded to the promises. I was obliged to confess, after being a year in office, that I was no better than my Predecessors, and that my shipbuilding programme had fallen short of my anticipations. After a year's experience I thought I had learned how to prevent that happening in future; and the result I will state to the Committee. Last year I was able to state that the programme was practically fulfilled, and I am happy to inform the Committee that it will again be fulfilled at the end of this month. The programme was in the Dockyards 13,497 tons, but the Estimates have been revised, and that makes a little difference. The actual work that will have been completed is 13,451, which is 46 tons less than was anticipated; but, if calculated according to the original Estimate, it actually would have been 13,966, or 469 tons in excess of the Estimate. As regards contract work we estimated to build 10,265 tons, and we shall have built actually 10,838, or 573 tons more. The new boilers were estimated to represent 20,000 horse power and will actually represent 20,967, so that in that item too the estimate will be exceeded. I was anxious to state these figures because the Committee have been very liberal in granting supplies, and I desired to show to what use those supplies have been put. I hope the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lincoln, if he deigns to cast his eye over the statement I have made, will be satisfied that I was justified the other night in saying that he was in a state of ignorance as to the progress made.

Perhaps, while I am on the subject of ships, it will be convenient for me to indicate what we propose to do in the coming year. Fault has been found with me on both sides of the House with regard to the variety of types of ships that are laid down. I do not think that these criticisms are altogether just; for, if you are always to build a ship exactly on the lines of the old type, you must give up all the improvements that have suggested themselves in the meantime; and you must give up meeting, by defensive works, the improvements made in the mode of attack. To say, then, that your ships should always be built on the lines and according to the types of the previous ones would, I think, be a great mistake. We can only deal with our present state of knowledge. With respect, however, to the ships that have been laid down while I have been at the Admiralty, I think, as regards the iron-clads, at all events, that the criticism I allude to cannot justly be made, for two of them have been of the Nelson class, and two of what I have heard called the "young" Inflexible class — namely, the Ajax and the Agamemnon. I propose to lay down at Chatham another Agamemnon, following the type that commended itself to the Committee the year before last. But I am bound to say I must incur that criticism to which I have referred with regard to the ship that I propose to lay down and which will be of a kind as yet unknown in any part of the world, but which has been much talked about, and has been much pressed upon me by that gallant officer who stands at the head of the veteran list of the Navy—I mean Sir George Sartorius—who has shown that although his age is great his mind is still youthful, and that he is willing to receive new ideas and able to inculcate them. Well, the ship we propose to lay down is called a torpedo-ram. I am not in a position to give the exact design. A design has been prepared, but modifications are in contemplation, so that I cannot give it exactly, or state the cost. But the cost, I take it, will be very considerably less than that of the iron-clads which have recently been laid down, and I hope that as a weapon of offence it will prove very destructive, indeed, if need be. I should be disposed to ask, even if the design were completed, that I might be excused from giving the particulars of it to the Committee. I know it is excessively difficult to keep any design or invention secret, and that when the work is going on in the dockyard that is next to impossible; but while the design has not gone beyond the Admiralty, it is possible to keep it secret, at all events, to a certain extent, and I do not think we ought to let it become known to the world before we need. I may say generally that it is proposed this torpedo-ram should carry armour, but not gulls. Beyond that, I hope the Committee will not expect me to go. This vessel must, of course, to a certain extent, be regarded as an experiment, and even supposing it to be a success I could not propose it to the Committee as likely to supersede all other kinds of fighting ships, but only as a useful adjunct to a fleet in case of war. It is, of course, impossible that the torpedo-ram should serve for general cruising purposes. She will only be a battle ship, and, probably, it would not be desirable that she should be kept at sea for a long period at a time, but I venture to think she will prove a very formidable weapon, and if she should become a success, it may perhaps be regarded as a sort of rival to those monster ships with tremendous armour that we hear spoken of as likely to be built in some foreign ports. Well, I propose to lay down a corvette at Chatham, which will be, I think, something of the Boadicea type, with, perhaps, some little corrections, which at present I cannot exactly state. Also, I propose to lay down at Sheerness another sloop of the Osprey class. Besides these I propose to lay down two sailing brigs at Pembroke. As far as our means have allowed I have endeavoured to send our young seamen out to sea in sailing vessels to get practice; but the ships suitable for the purpose have been limited in number. The Eurydice, an old sailing ship, has been re-fitted for that duty and has just been commissioned, and I hope that, with the use of the brigs, when they can be spared, there will no longer be ground for complaint that the young seamen are kept too long in port instead of being sent out to learn their duties at sea. The tonnage that is proposed to be built at all the Dockyards in 1877-8 is 14,240, of which 8,621 will be iron-dads and 5,619 will be unarmoured As regards ships to be laid down under contract, I propose one composite sloop, two gun-vessels of the Kestrel class, three gun-beats of the Mallard class, and 15 torpedo-vessels, which will be for the use of the War Office, and will be employed for harbour defence. We have already made a commencement in producing these special beats for defending our harbours, but it is necessary, in order to be completely prepared for that kind of defence, that we should have a small flotilla of torpedo-vessels. The tonnage to be built by contract is 6,248, of which 961 will be iron-clad, and 5,287 unarmoured. Therefore, the total tonnage to be built during the year, both in the Dockyards and under contract, will be 20,488. Of this 9,582 will be iron-clad, and 10,906 unarmoured.

In connection with the torpedo question, I should like to mention that an independent torpedo school had been established for experiments and for the instruction of officers. The Vernon, which was a tender to the Excellent, gunnery ship, has been used for this purpose. I do not know that I need give the establishment that will be requisite; but I may say that there will be two courses of torpedo instruction given on beard the Vernon, the longer course for commanders, lieutenants, &c., and the shorter one for petty officers and seamen. While on this subject I may mention that in Vote 10, Section two, there appears a new item, a sum of £80,000 for the purchase of torpedoes. The War Office has generally made provision for them in its Estimates, but I have become a little alarmed lest we should be behind other nations in this matter; and, therefore, with the consent of the Treasury, I gave an order last year for a considerable number of torpedoes from Mr. Whitehead, and by the terms of the engagement we are to have the advantage of any fresh improvements that he may make in the meantime, and as he has been continually making discoveries, I think the arrangement will be very satisfactory.

Hon. Members are aware that since last Session I have made regulations with regard to the performance of navigating duties, under which officers of a certain rank of the navigating class may be transferred, at their option, to the executive list. The question has been beset with difficulties, because of the existence of two different classes of offi- cers. I am quite aware that the scheme which, after very careful consideration, was adopted, is open to criticism, but it is utterly impossible in a transition period to prevent all inequalities between one man and another. We will endeavour to do the best we can in this matter. I have no doubt that for some time there will be a certain amount of discontent, and possibly in some cases there may be an appearance of hardship. But I venture to think that in the course of a few years the transition will be made and this temporary inconvenience will be got over.

I stated some time ago that I had great difficulty in getting boys for the Fleet, and that as an inducement for them to enter the Service we had tried the plan of giving them free kits. We not only did that, but for some time we found it necessary to reduce the standard of height and, to a certain extent, of education. That, however, lasted only for a certain period, and when the need for it ceased, the old standard was restored. I was extremely anxious to know what kind of boys were admitted under the lower educational test, and consequently during my inspection of the training ships last autumn, I made it my duty to inquire into the matter. I had the boys themselves, in a great many instances, pointed out to me, and I asked questions of the instructors with regard to them. The answer generally was that, although those boys had given a great deal of trouble to the schoolmaster, as one would naturally expect, a great many of them were the smartest lads in the ship. It is, then, I think, so far satisfactory to know that if in case of difficulty we relax the test, we shall be able to get boys who will be efficient for the ordinary purposes of our ships without a very high standard of education, and a reserve to fall back upon, if need be. But during the last few months the number of boys anxious to enter the Service has exceeded the number we require, although in the critical state of European affairs I did not deem it desirable to check the entries. The result is that, although there are fewer boys for Service than the number proposed in the Estimates, we have more entered for Training, while the number of men has swollen beyond the number contemplated when the Estimates were being prepared. In order to check the entries, we have raised the physical standard. We had already returned to the educational standard; but we have recently raised the physical standard by one inch for boys between, I think, the ages of 15 and 16, half an inch being added to the chest measurement. By that means I hope the entries will be kept down to the legitimate number. I may here observe that although we have taken the same numbers for the Fleet, we have divided them rather differently. We have taken fewer boys and more men. The fact is, we have got a greater number of men, and by entering 300 boys fewer than we used to provide for, we thought we should be able to keep up the number of men. The difference in rating, I may add, between a boy and a man causes a considerable increase in Vote 1. There are also other causes for that increase. There are more officers in employ, the number of ships being greater, and those employed are on a higher rate of pay.

There are also other causes of increase to which I shall advert presently; but I am sure my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), who brought the question before the House more than once, is anxious to hear what it is I am going to do with regard to the Marine officers. I am sorry to say I am not able to give him as full information to-night as I should wish, but I will give him all that is in my power. My hon. and learned Friend has, I believe, thought me somewhat slow in acknowledging the grievances under which Marine officers laboured. I can, however, assure him that I had been little more than three months in office when—it was, I think, in June, 1874—I became so impressed with the necessity of alleviating the grievances of those officers that I laid their case before the Treasury. I was, however, unable to induce the Treasury to do anything in the matter until the Report of the Army Commission upon the subject of promotion and retirement was received. But as soon as I got that Report I instructed the officer at the head of the Marine Office to submit a scheme to me on the subject based on the principles of that Report. I got that scheme; but it was obvious to me that it was one which was not likely to be sanctioned by the Treasury as it stood. It seemed to me, from an Admiralty point of view, that we should make some alteration in it, and I was anxious not to lose time. Suppose I had set to work to alter the scheme in that point of view, and that it then went to the Treasury to be considered by them in a Treasury point of view, there would, I felt, be that hope deferred which maketh the heart sick, and that another Session might elapse before anything was done. I proposed, therefore, to the Treasury to have a joint Committee to examine the scheme. This Committee is now sitting. I also proposed—a proposal which was assented to—in order that there might be no mistake as to our intention, to make pecuniary provision for the scheme by putting a lump sum in the Estimates to give it effect. That being so, I have, I think, fulfilled the pledges which I gave my hon. and learned Friend last Session, and I may, I believe, hold out to him the hope that he will know what the scheme to which I have referred is in the course of the Session, for I saw the Chairman of that Committee this morning, and he told me that I might promise that I would be able to announce to the House the proposal which it would make before the close of the present Session.

I now come to the question of the engineers, the importance of improving whose position forced itself on my attention some time ago, and in September, 1875, I appointed a Committee, of which Admiral Cooper-Key was the Chairman, to inquire into the subject. That Committee made a most valuable Report, from which I may, perhaps, be permitted to read the following extract:— We have entered on this inquiry with a full sense of the importance of the subject. No arguments are needed to prove that the efficiency of our Fleets, on which the strength and security of this country depend, become daily more and more intimately connected with the question of the machinery of our ships of war. That is the view taken by the Committee and also by the Admiralty. The Report is a long one, and I cannot undertake to read more than that extract, but the Report itself is on the Table, and hon. Members who are interested in the subject will find it well worthy of perusal.—[Mr. CHILDERS: The Report is not yet on the Table.] Then it will be in a short time. The Report points out that it is necessary, in order to attract men to the Service, to improve the condition of these officers, both as regards pay and position; and we have accepted the principles of that Report. We have not, however, accepted all the details. The proposals of the Committee with regard to increase of pay have been somewhat modified, and there has been some slight modification also as regards the question of relative rank. But as far as the main principle of the Report is concerned, I think I may say we have accepted it entirely. We propose to improve the pay of the engineer officers and of the engine-room artificers. It is also proposed to give them in many cases improved relative rank, and we shall endeavour altogether to put them on as good a footing as we can. As regards the engine-room artificers, we propose to make increases of their pay and to appoint a new rating —that of chief engine-room artificer. Then the Committee took much evidence as to the necessity of having so large a complement of engine-room officers, and made a recommendation, which we have adopted in great part, that the number of engineer officers should be reduced, and the number of engine-room artificers augmented. Unless we were able to do this, the financial results of accepting the recommendations of the Committee would have been serious; but with that modification, I think we have brought the proposal within moderate limits. The Committee have pointed out, what it is impossible to overlook—namely, the difficulty of treating engineer officers on an equal footing with the executive officers of the Navy as long as they are drawn from a much lower social stratum. This, perhaps, is a delicate matter to speak about, but it is referred to in the Report as raising a serious difficulty. The Committee recommend that we should endeavour to attract persons of a higher social position to this branch of the Service, and I propose to try the experiment, though I do not mean to say that the subject is free from difficulty. But, looking to the history of civil engineering in this country, I remember the time when it was deemed derogatory to the dignity of gentlemen to send their sons to learn that business. I have lived, however, to see the day when gentlemen, and even Peers of high rank, have sent their sons to learn it, and in order to learn it to any purpose they must necessarily go through the manual and prac- tical part of the business. I cannot see why, therefore, if they are treated with proper consideration and due regard to their habits at home, we should not be able to induce gentlemen and Noblemen to send their sons to follow what I consider to be a very honourable profession. The Committee have recommended that greater pains should henceforth be taken in the selection of candidates. I propose, therefore, that there shall be a free competition among those candidates who are approved by the Admiralty, but that great pains should be taken in regard to their vouchers of respectability. It is likewise proposed that for three years they should pay £25 a-year for their instruction. The Committee recommend that certain privileges should be given to them in the dockyards, and that a distinction should be made between them and the workmen in regard to the way in which their names are entered on coming through the gates. Other privileges will also be accorded to them. But these details will require consideration, and I will only say now that we shall endeavour to make their apprenticeship in the dockyards, which must involve them in a great deal of manual work, as pleasant and easy as in the circumstances it can be made. As regards the increased pay, the Chief Inspector of Machinery Afloat—whose title will be modified by dropping the word "afloat"—will, it is proposed, have his full pay increased from £1 5s. a-day, or £456 5s. a-year, to £1 12s. a-day, or £584 a-year. The half-pay is raised from 16s. to 18s. per day; the maximum retired pay from £450 to £500 a-year; and these officers will be permitted to count for retirement all confirmed time served in the junior ranks from the age of 20. The number of Inspectors of Machinery will be increased from five to seven, should their services be required. We also drop the word "afloat" from their title. Their full pay will be increased from 25s. to 28s. per day, and their half-pay from 16s. to 17s. They will also be allowed to count towards retirement all confirmed time served in the junior ranks from the age of 20. The number of chief engineers will be gradually increased from 170 to 220, and chief engineers will be employed in ships not at present authorized to carry them. Their full pay will be increased. It will in future commence at 13s. instead of 12s. a-day, going up by steps. Their half-pay will be increased from 6s. to 6s. 6d. for a period under five years' service. I should only weary the Committee if I went into further detail upon these points, but they will gather that a substantial improvement has been made. [Mr. GOSCHEN: We shall see it in the Report?] The Report will be laid upon the Table; but I have indicated some of the changes as to the nature and scale of the advantages we propose to confer in these cases. As regards pensions there will also be some improvement. The pay of engine-room artificers will be increased, and there will, as I said before, be a new rating of "Chief engine-room artificer." This Force will be a means of promoting the best men in the service to higher pay and posts of greater consideration. Some complaint has been made as to the mode of obtaining leave, the care of their mess-places, and the size of their sea chests, and endeavours will be made to meet their wishes in this respect and make them more comfortable when afloat. As far as practicable a separate mess-place will be provided for them, and in some cases there will be an improvement in their relative rank. Altogether there has been an endeavour to consider this valuable class of officers and artificers and to raise their pay to a rate which may be considered commensurate with the position they ought to occupy in the ship. As to the entry of students, it must be considered only tentative. It is the recommendation of a Committee, and I hope in the course of a very short time to bring out regulations on the subject and invite students to enter. Some persons are not sanguine as to the success of the plan. Others—I myself among them—hope we shall be able to induce the sons of parents of higher position to enter this Service, and I shall consider myself fortunate if I am able to inaugurate such an improvement in the Service. We have also found it necessary to make another new rating—a rating of wood and iron shipwrights, and also to give increased pay to various classes of artificers on beard ship. We found a great want of men competent to deal with the new class of ship—skilled shipwrights, and we therefore thought it necessary to establish this new rating with a higher class of pay; but artificers under the old rating will have an opportunity, if able to pass the neces- sary examination, of succeeding to this higher rating.

Another point, for which the printed Estimates will have prepared the Committee, is the proposal to increase the pay of 2d. a-day to the re-engaged men of the seamen class. The want of the Navy is a superior class of men to set a good example and perform the duties of petty officers. Great complaints are made by naval officers of the difficulty of getting good petty officers for the Fleet. The other day, when a ship of importance was about to be commissioned, we were 18 petty officers short, and could not get them, except by taking away men who were re-qualifying as gunners. In the case of another ship we were 14 petty officers short. This is a serious matter, because these men are the back-bone of the Service in point of discipline and example. All the naval officers with whom I spoke on this question recommended me in the strongest way to give an additional inducement to men to re-engage in order to supply what we want—men to set a good example to others who have not had the same experience in the Service, and are not so well accustomed to the discipline.

It may be interesting to the Committee to see what the entry of 100 boys amounts to as years go on. Experience shows that the entry of 100 boys results in the entry of 88 ordinary seamen. They re-engage for a period of 10 years as men, and at the end of that period what is technically called "waste"—the diminution of numbers from deaths, invaliding, discharges, and desertions—reduces the number to 40. It appears, then, that at the expiration of 10 years the 88 who enter as ordinary seamen become only 40. The expense of training boys for the Service is very great. I think it is £65 a boy; at all events, it is something like that sum; but when you have got him at the end of his 10 years' service as a man he is a highly manufactured article, a good seaman, whom we should try and keep; and I say it is sound policy to spend the money on his training. But though we have many re-engagements, those who decline to re-engage form from 25 to 35 per cent, and if we could induce a larger proportion to re-engage it would be very good policy to spend the amount which I propose in effecting that object. The cost of the present number re-en- gaged is £10,500. I do not suppose that the extra inducement which I have indicated will prove sufficient for every man who now refuses to re-engage; but I am sanguine enough to believe that it will attract a good many. There is a feeling amongst the men—and a very natural feeling—that after their 10 years of service they are worth more than before and that they ought to experience pecuniary benefit with the lapse of those years. Of course, it may be said that they get pensions; but they have a feeling that they ought to be paid more in actual wages, and the inducements to them to leave the Service by reason of the lucrative offers they get on shore are very great. A man whose constitution has stood the work for the 10 years' period of service, and whose moral character is such as would not only enable him to remain in the Service, but to get a good rating, will obtain on shore a very good employment. Therefore, if the Committee should sanction my proposal, I look forward with confidence to its being of great advantage to the Service in the direction I have indicated. The entry of boys for the Fleet this year has been even greater than our requirements; and that, I think, is a very satisfactory state of matters. I do not, however, dwell too much upon it. We all know that trade has been in a depressed state, and, perhaps, that may be one cause of the satisfactory state of matters to which I allude. The same thing has been stated by my right hon. Friend as regards the Army; there has been a larger number of recruits, and no doubt the cause which has affected the Army has affected the Navy also. But, in any case, it is gratifying to know that while on a former occasion I was obliged to complain to the House of the difficulty of getting boys I have now a very different statement to make.

I believe I have now called the attention of the Committee to the most important matters as regards the personnel of the Fleet which involve an increase of expense, but there is one matter which I should like to mention, and that is the state of the Naval Reserves. On that subject an interesting Report has been made by Admiral Tarleton, late Superintendent of Reserves, which has been laid on the Table. I will not trouble the Committee by going through the Report at length, but will just state the numbers of the Naval Reserves at the present time. At the time of the last Return they amounted to 17,919, or, in round numbers, 18,000, and that is an increase of more than 4,000 since the 1st of March, 1874. As regards the Second Class, we should be able to enter more men if we wished it, but we were obliged to refuse. With respect to the First Class, we should be willing to enter more. Admiral Tarleton, in his Report, states that he thinks we can get from the Mercantile Marine any men we want not disqualified by age, character, or other matters. That is a very important matter. I have directed inquiries to be made and statistics to be prepared to elucidate the subject. And here I may mention, what I am sure will be gratifying to the Committee to hear, as it will be gratifying to the Royal Naval Reserve, that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has taken such interest in that body that he has expressed a wish to hold an honorary commission in the corps, and I hope in a few days to see His Royal Highness gazetted as an honorary captain of the Royal Naval Reserve. I am sure that will give great satisfaction to the corps, and that it will derive additional honour from having the name of His Royal Highness connected with it. And here I may mention officially, what I believe is known already to many hon. Members—that while His Royal Highness is going to enter the Naval Reserve, his two sons, the young Princes, are to be placed on beard the Britannia for their education, with the view of one of them at a future time, at all events, becoming an officer in the Royal Navy. The number of men in the First Class of the Naval Reserve is 12,461, and in the Second Class 5,458, making a total, as I have said, of 17,919. The Royal Naval Artillery Volunteers number in London, 370; in Liverpool, 385; and in Bristol, 80; making in all 835.

A Question was asked some while ago by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Childers) whether the tons weight of hull I gave were builders' measurement or not. I am now able to answer. The number of tons was 20,488—that is, 22,586 tons builders' measurement.

I cannot conclude without noticing the return of the Arctic Expedition. The Arctic Expedition started with the hope of many in this country that it would be successful in reaching the Pole. That expectation has not been realized, but I think it would be a mistake to suppose that the labours of the Arctic Expedition have been thrown away. It is difficult at present to estimate exactly all the advantages that have been reaped; but as regards geographical knowledge I think we know exactly what has been obtained. First of all, a much higher northern latitude has been reached than ever was before attained. The highest latitude reached was 83 deg. 20½ min.—that is, 35½ miles higher than Parry attained in 1827, and he attained the highest latitude ever previously attained—namely, 82 deg. 45 min. N. The extent of new land traversed exceeded 300 miles—on the west 220 miles, and on the east 80—beyond the northern opening out of Smith Sound, all lying between the 82nd and 83rd parallels of north latitude. The western shores of Smith's Sound between the 79th and 82nd parallel were closely examined in the progress of the ships to and from their winter quarters near the 82nd parallel, and thus the coast line of the northernmost land adjoining the American Continent is now accurately charted. The conjectural open sea northward of Smith Sound and the land assumed to be there have been proved not to exist, and we now know from the condition of the ice in this region that the Pole is here unapproachable, at least by any means now known. This is a substantial gain as narrowing the limits within which Polar enterprise is feasible. As regards the scientific discoveries which have been made, it is impossible at this moment to say what their precise value is; but in connection with the Expedition great labour has been bestowed on many branches of science, particularly on physics and natural history. The scientific results are in process of being formulated, and will, I know, be found very valuable. In one branch of science, that of the tides, sufficient from a cursory examination has even now been ascertained to pronounce them of the highest value in solving a hitherto perplexing but important problem in connection with the movement of great bodies of ocean water. Of course, the popular idea of the Expedition was that it should reach the Pole; and undoubtedly a great triumph would have been gained to this country, in addition to advantages of a scientific nature, if that result had been accomplished. Unfortunately, the Expedition broke down in consequence of the outbreak of scurvy; but, dreadful as were the sufferings which that outbreak imposed upon the men, it cannot be said that it prevented the Expedition reaching the Pole. It would have been impossible as the officers and men were then placed—with the hardships which they would have been required to undergo, and the limited time available for the purpose—for them to have reached the Pole. The Report of the Committee which I appointed to inquire into the cause of the outbreak of scurvy has not yet reached me. I have seen a draft of it, but I have not yet received the official Report with the signatures of the Members, and I cannot, therefore, more particularly refer to it at present. But I could not help adverting to the Expedition, because, whatever errors of judgment may have been committed in regard to the sledge dietary, I think we must recognize the indomitable pluck and energy displayed by all those who took part in the Expedition, and the great skill and ability with which the captains of the ships navigated their vessels through those frozen regions and brought them home in almost as good a state as when they left this country. Of course, there are many topics which may present themselves in considering the Votes in detail; and upon those topics I shall be happy, when they arise, to give the Committee all the information I can. I now beg leave to propose the Vote for 60,000 Men and boys, including 14,000 Marines.

(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That 60,000 men and boys he employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1878, including 14,000 Royal Marines."—(Mr. Hunt.)


said, he should move that Progress be reported, as there had been no opportunity of discussing the points raised by the explanatory Statement of the First Lord. That Statement was a very important one, and deserved ample consideration.

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


hoped the hon. Member for Pembroke would not press his Motion before the first Vote was taken. It was usual to vote the number of men on the first night.


expressed his surprise that some reference had not been made to the navigating officers.


said, that he had referred to those officers when the hon. Member was not in the House. He understood from his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury that it was very important the Vote for the money should be taken at once. Perhaps he would state his reasons.


put it to right hon. Gentlemen opposite whether it had not been usual to vote the number of men? It was necessary to have the Votes for both men and money before Easter, and in time for the Mutiny Bill to pass.


said, he did not remember any occasion when the men and money had been taken simply on the Statement of the Minister without the opportunity of continuing the debate. He understood that the University Bill was to be taken on Thursday week, but he thought it would be advisable not to begin any new Business before Easter. The Government should remember that most of the Motions which had been brought before the House had not come from the Opposition Benches.


hoped the Committee would allow him to take the Vote for the men. He would not at present ask for the money.


said, they were placed in a most inconvenient position by the number of Motions which had been made by hon. Members on the Question that the House go into Committee on the Naval Estimates. Those Motions were, no doubt, very interesting and important in their kind, but they would be far more appropriately discussed in Committee. The House was debarred for five hours from hearing the Statement of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty; and he must say that a more important or a more interesting Statement he had never heard than that of the right hon. Gentleman that evening in laying the Navy Estimates before the Committee. It was a statement that contained much that was new, and one which he believed would be read with deep interest by the country.


urged the importance of entering as many boys as they could obtain for the Navy, and also of taking more practical steps than those now contemplated for training them in seamanship. They should be trained by being sent to sea in steam vessels, but worked under sail. As to the engineers, they wanted some definite and immediate improvement in their position, in order that they might share in the advantages proposed to be conferred on that class of officer.


wished to draw particular attention to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the cost of boys on training ships. The cost had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman to be £65, and he had announced his intention of providing a sum of £25 for each boy on the training ships about to be established. That was a fact which ought not to be lost sight of; and, speaking for the training ships with which he was intimately connected, he could say they were perfectly satisfied with that £25. He wished to acknowledge the great courtesy of the right hon. Gentleman to all who had occasion to communicate with him, either on the subject of training ships, or of the Naval Volunteer Service.


asked if it was the intention to add to the total number of engineer officers? The right hon. Gentleman had stated his intention of increasing the total number of chief engineers from 170 to 220; and whether before the subject was again under the consideration of the House, the right hon. Gentleman would take care that the Report as to engineer officers should be in the hands of hon. Members?


I think I stated it was proposed. to decrease the engine-room complements of certain ships, and to have fewer engineer officers and more artificers.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(2.) £75,511 2s. 3d., Navy (Excess), 1875-6.


asked how long the printed Paper on the subject had been in the hands of hon. Members?


It was delivered several days ago.

Vote agreed to.