§ MR. W. H. SMITH
Mr. Raikes, I hope that hon. Gentlemen who have been occupying the time of the House until now will not think that I am wanting in respect to them because I did not rise before the Speaker left the Chair to answer the speeches which they made. In the course of the statement which I shall have to make to the Committee there will be opportunities afforded—and I think, on the whole, it will be more for the convenience of the Committee that I should proceed now with the course I had laid down for myself, availing myself of the opportunities which, I have no doubt, will be afforded to me of answering, to some extent, the observations which have been made by my hon. Friends. The Estimates, Mr. Raikes, which I have now to submit to the Committee will, no doubt, be objected to by some on the ground of their insufficiency. I consider that, on the whole, they are sufficient and adequate to the necessities of the case, and to the duty which calls on me to provide for the service of the year. They show a slight decrease, and only a slight decrease, on the amount provided during the last financial year; and, in speaking of them, it may, perhaps, be as well that I should refer to the actual expenditure of the past year. During the past year, or the year which has now nearly passed, we shall probably have spent a sum of nearly £10,550,000, or something within the Votes which Parliament has given us. I am speaking now of the ordinary expenditure of the Navy, irrespective of the Votes of Credit for the South African Transport Service, which was undertaken in the course of last year 1879. The amount corresponds very nearly indeed with that of 1873–4, and is somewhat less than that of the year 1874–5. It will be satisfactory, to the Committee at all events, to find that we have no deficiency to provide for in the coming year, and. that we have kept well within our Votes. The first Vote to which I shall ask the attention of the Committee 589 is that which has already been read by the Chairman, and? which provides 58,000 men and boys for the service of the Navy, and which includes among that number 19,833 blue jackets, 2,300 artificers, 4,800 stokers, 4,500 domestics, including kroomen, 2,700 boys for service, 2,200 boys for training, and 3,672 coastguardmen on shore. The numbers actually borne on the 1st of March were—bluejackets, 19,824; artificers, 2,342; stokers, 4,679; domestics, including kroomen, 4,455; boys for service, 2,618; boys for training, 2,345; and coastguardmen on shore 3,641. In addition to these Forces, there are 12,733 Royal Marines, and 1,244 seamen pensioners in reserve. The Royal Naval Reserve of the 1st class numbers 12,061; of the 2nd class, 5,339; and of the 3rd class, 80 boys; making a total of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class, of 17,480; while the Artillery Volunteers number 1,100. The numbers of blue jackets, artificers, stokers, domestics and kroomen, provided for in the Estimates of 1880-81, is 31,433. With regard to the number of boys who are provided, I have observed, in certain criticisms in respect to them, that there seems to be some alarm at the desire for economy which I have undoubtedly professed. I honestly confess that I desire to economise wherever it is possible to do so without injuring, in any degree, the efficiency of the Service. I admit that, however small the economy may be, if it is a real economy accompanied by efficiency, it is my desire to effect it. But in the remarks to which I have adverted, concern has been expressed lest 2,200 boys are insufficient for training in order to maintain the number of blue jackets at a proper and efficient point. The fact is, and it is a most gratifying fact, that the waste in the Service has become a great deal less than it used to be. The waste in training boys is a great deal less, and desertions are very rare. And here I should like to refer to a remark which fell from the hon. and gallant Member for Gravesend (Captain Pim)—namely, that the discipline and efficiency of the Navy are very unsatisfactory, or very disgraceful, I think that was the term. Now, I have not heard any opinion approaching that from any gallant officer I have come in contact with for years. Since I have had the honour of serving the country and the Queen I have seen a great many 590 gallant officers, and the condition of the Service has been a very natural and proper subject of remark. But I believe that only one opinion has been expressed, and that is that gradually and surely there has been a vast improvement in the respectability, in the character, and in the position of the British sailor. There are not, I believe, a finer set of fellows in existence, or who more completely deserve the confidence of the country than the British seamen; and to speak of them as being in a disreputable condition, guilty of constant breaches of discipline, is to cast aspersions on them which they do not deserve, and which other hon. and gallant Officers in this House will not, I imagine, endorse. With regard to the number of boys, I have had a very careful calculation made on that point. I find that the number of blue jackets provided in the Estimates—19,833—is really somewhat in excess of the normal number of blue jackets required. We should prefer to have rather a smaller number of blue jackets, and a larger number of some other classes. But, as the Committee is very well aware, the continuous service system makes it undesirable, and even impossible, to discharge men after they have once been taken until their period of service has been completed. We do, in fact, enter a large number of boys and they must continue to remain in the Navy as men, until their period of service expires. Some years ago an estimate was formed that 18,000 blue jackets would be sufficient, provided that we had also reserves and a coastguard of something like 4,500 men. At present, we have an excess of something like 600 or 700 over that estimate of 18,000, including 4,500 as the number of coastguard. The coastguard are somewhat below their number, and the seamen are very much above their number. The waste among the blue jackets is about 8 per cent; and, at that rate, 1,700 entering annually would keep up the Force to more than 20,000 men. Taking into account the waste of boys in training, 1,788 bluejackets entering annually would keep up the Force to 21,035 men. At present, the least number of boys who go into training is 2,200, and they, taking the waste into account, would produce the 1,788 blue jackets and keep up the Force to the number I have mentioned. Therefore, it is clear that, having regard to the 591 number at present over-borne, the 2,200 boys in training are really in excess of the number that would be required for 1880–81. But the Committee will agree that it is better to have an excess of the number that would be required than to fall below it. While I am on this point, I should wish to refer to a remark which fell from my right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Childers) last year with regard to the re-engagement of petty officers and the question of pensions. I stated then to the Committee that the Admiralty had under their consideration proposals for the re-engagement of petty officers after their 20 years' service, with a view principally to the country availing itself of the advantage of the experience and knowledge which men possess at 38 years of age who have not lost their full vigour and capacity for active service. We offered a re-engagement upon terms which have not proved sufficiently attractive, but I am now, with my Colleagues, considering other proposals which I hope will have the desired effect of inducing some of that class to be reengaged. If that be so, I believe that we shall see that our efforts have not only been advantageous to the country and to the Service, but to the men themselves. Then, again, it would lessen the number of men that it would be necessary to enter at the same time. If we could get men to serve for 25 years instead of 20, the number to be supplied would not be so great for 25 years as it would be for 20 years. I refrain from stating the conditions, because I have not yet obtained the sanction of a very important Department of the Government, and, therefore, I can only venture generally to hope that I may be successful in a scheme which would be satisfactory to the Committee and advantageous to the country. There is one other remark I have to make with regard to the men of the Reserves. Of the seamen class, including stokers, we have 5,890 pensioners under 50 years of age, and 5,772 above that age. A large proportion of these men, at all events of the 5,890 under 50 would be available, and we could rely upon them in case of emergency. One question incidentally referred to by my right hon. and gallant Friend behind me (Sir John Hay), and referred to also by the hon. and gallant Member for Gravesend, had reference to the case of the lieutenants. In endeavouring to 592 deal with the case of the lieutenants, I felt it to be my duty to ask for an Order in Council. The Order in Council, passed in 1870 by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract, provided that the list of lieutenants should be reduced to 600, and until the list of sub-lieutenants was reduced to 250 the Admiralty had the power to promote whom they thought fit. The result was that the list gradually grew till it amounted to something like 847 lieutenants and 240 odd sub-lieutenants, and it was found that we had no longer the power to promote sublieutenants. We had a very large number of officers whom it was practically impossible to promote. They were of an average age of 24 years, a period at which they ought to have gained their promotion to the lieutenants' list and could no longer be kept in a subordinate position. It appeared to me that 23 was the age at which an officer ought to leave the rank of sub-lieutenant. It was not wise on the part of the Admiralty, having due regard to the interests of the Service, to refuse promotion to the rank of lieutenant to officers fairly entitled to it. The circumstances of 1879 and 1870 were very different, and there is now a great deal more employment for lieutenants than there was before. At present there are 630 lieutenants employed, and there are also 172 navigating lieutenants, making the total 801 for the two ranks. The House knows very well that the navigating list is being gradually extinguished as a separate list, and in the course of a few years the whole duties of navigation will fall upon commanders on the executive list. Although I know that many excellent officers greatly deplore the disappearance of the master from Her Majesty's ships, yet I think that we must accept the present condition of things. The master has gone, and it is useless to attempt to bring him back. The House of Commons has decided that the duties of navigating the Fleet shall in future be performed by officers well qualified for the discharge of those duties. Taking that into consideration, it appears to mo to be necessary to increase the number of officers upon the lieutenants' list to a maximum of 1,000, having regard to the fact of the gradually increasing duties that will fall upon them as the list of the navigating lieutenants and 593 navigating commanders ceases to exist. Perhaps it may be said that I ought to take power to raise the commanders' list at the same time; but, in my opinion, the time has not arrived for that step to be taken. The additions that have been made to the lieutenants' executive list, in recent years, have not affected the period of promotion of executive officers who are senior to them in the slightest degree, and when lieutenants for navigating duties arrive at the top of the list, it will be necessary then to make provision for the promotion from the commanders' list. But I confess I have not done so now; because, if I had done so, promotion must have been given at once to officers who were on the executive list. I also had to consider what was the amount of employment that could be given to the officers of the several classes. The number of lieutenants now employed upon the executive list is 630, being 74 per cent of the whole. On the commanders' list there are 208 in all, and the number employed is 149, being 71 per cent on the whole. There is no prospect, at present, of greater employment, and the result, therefore, of increasing the commanders' list would be simply to increase the percentage of men unemployed. Hon. Gentlemen, with very great knowledge of the Service, will admit that to allow a longer period to elapse than at present between the time at which an officer goes on the commanders' list and obtain active employment, would be a very great misfortune. At the present time, a sufficient interval—quite a sufficient interval—elapses before it is possible to employ an officer, and it will be seen that if the list were unduly swelled or increased, then the delay would be still greater. The addition of 50 names to the commanders' list would postpone the employment of officers now on the list for upwards of another year, and that would very seriously affect the efficiency of those officers. My hon. and gallant Friend, in the course of his remarks, has referred to the question of promotion. I fully admit that it would be exceedingly desirable that we should, if we could, in any way accelerate promotion. It is painful to see officers of youth and vigour expending the greater part of their lives on the lower list, and unable to find that employment in 594 the Service which they desire. But my hon. and gallant Friend, practically, answered himself, for he admitted that there must-be four or five lieutenants to one captain, and, under those circumstances, would it be possible to promote anything like a sufficient number of the higher ranks so as to afford rapid promotion to officers in the lower ranks? That is the difficulty. I have had calculations made lately as to what the cost would be of the earlier compulsory retirement of lieutenants. The amount was so alarming, that it would be perfectly impossible for the House to treat the matter seriously. By granting a retiring allowance at the age of 35, the cost of compulsory retirement, on the basis that each officer so retiring should receive a sum of £180 a-year, would be £277,000, or an increase, as compared with retirement at the age of 45, of £146,000 a-year. Well, Mr. Raikes, I am not bold enough to enter upon a proposal of this character, and I only state it to the Committee, not because I ever seriously entertained it, but to show the difficulties there are in the way of any scheme of compulsory retirement. It must be remembered that it would be necessary to provide not only for the officer who was retired, but also for the officer who would come in to take his place. The greater the promotion the greater would be the number that must be on the list, either active or retired. Much, therefore, as I should like to see a more rapid flow of promotion and to find employment on the active list for a greater number of officers, yet I do not see how that can be possible at the present time. I admit that my hon. and gallant Friend has mentioned one or two points which require attention. The list will be blocked either in this or next year, and it is a matter for our consideration whether some steps should not be taken to prevent that block. I own I do not see at present, how it will be possible to reduce it in respect of the officers now standing for promotion. I wish only to remark this, that having regard to the fact that at the present time the navigating list is in excess of the number I estimated to be sufficient for the service of the country—namely, 1,000 lieutenants. I wish still to be allowed to reduce the list of cadets. It was estimated, some time ago, that 73 cadets annually were necessary to main- 595 tain a list of 1,000 lieutenants. Some time ago I proposed that there should be annually an entry of 55 cadets, so that there could be a gradual reduction of the lieutenants' list by the stoppage of the supply. The Accountant General reports that an annual entry of 55 cadets will supply three-fourths of the waste upon the list of lieutenants. It is proposed, therefore, only to enter that number. For that purpose it will be necessary to withdraw some nominations from officers below the rank of flag officers. A flag officer will only receive one nomination, and a captain will receive none. In bestowing the nominations that remain in the hands of the First Lord, it will be his duty most carefully to consider the position of the Service. The application of a new rule as to the examination will take place in June next. I may observe that there are so many desirous of entering the Service, that I think it my duty to order that those going up for examination shall not be allowed to try again, if they do not succeed the first time. Nothing is more painful to me than to have to deal with this question, and it is the most disagreeable of my duties, for the applications for the cadetships, are infinitely more numerous than I have vacancies at my disposal. I have, however adopted the rule I have stated, because I thought it would bean advantage to the Service, If any other system could be devised, I should be very glad. I have now disposed of Vote 1. I do not think that Vote 2 calls for any special comment; but upon Vote 3 I will say a few words with respect to the observations which fell from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gravesend. I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman used rather strong language with regard to one or two members of the Civil Service, whoso merits were exceedingly well vindicated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract. It is unnecessary for me to refer, at any length, to the services of Mr. Eowsell—his services were of the highest possible value to the country, and he deserved all he could possibly get from it. I parted from him with the greatest regret, simply because it was necessary for his health that he should go to another climate. With regard to Mr. Hamilton, who is well known to the House, I was exceedingly glad when he undertook duties of 596 the highest importance at the Admiralty. The re-organization of the Admiralty Department has now been carried out, and it is satisfactory to know that almost all who have been retired have left by their own wish, and under circumstances which will, at all events, secure them a sufficient provision for life. What we have now to deal with is the effect of this re-organization. In point of money it is a great economy; but the result is something more—it is great efficiency. If you have too many men, the work is not so well done as if you have just sufficient for what you require. The fact was, that at the Admiralty there were a great deal too many men. I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract will admit that this was so. We have carried all these changes through with an absolute saving of £3,000 a-year at present, including the charges for pensions. Ultimately, the saving to the country in the difference between the two rates of salaries for the Departments in London and at the Ports, under the old and present systems, will be £52,795 per annum. That is, I think, very satisfactory; but when I am able to state that efficiency, as well as economy, have been promoted, I do not think the importance of the step can be overrated. The Report of the Royal Naval College will shortly be laid upon the Table, when it will be seen that the lieutenants who are now training there have been examined by University examiners, and that the result was fair. With regard to the observations of the hon. and gallant Member for Gravesend on this point, I do not think his views are in accordance with the general feeling of Naval officers. Coming now to the Dockyard Vote, before I touch upon the ship-building programme, I should like to say a word or two upon certain details. There is an apparent reduction in the number of men employed in the Dockyards. There is no such reduction, and the number of men employed is practically the same as last year. The apparent reduction is caused simply by the transfer of the Dockyard writers to salaries and allowances. That is one consequence of the re-organization. There is also an increase in the charge for the Bermuda Dock. That dock has been the cause of considerable expense during the last few years. The total Estimates for the re- 597 pairs of the dock at Bermuda have been something like £31,543; but in future the annual cost of it will only be £3,000. The work has been done exceedingly well, and I am sure that the Committee will understand how important it is that this dock should be kept in good condition. I now come to the ship-building programme of the year, which the Committee will see we have been enabled practically to carry out. The number of tons proposed to be built last year were 11,672, and the actual number amounted to 12,073, so that we have really carried out all that we contemplated. We have also carried out the contract Estimates, and are able, for this year at all events, to say that what we led the country and the House to expect has been performed. I must at this point occupy the attention of the Committee for a few minutes, while I state precisely what was the position of the Government with regard to this question at the time of its taking Office. When we came into Office, my Predecessor (Mr. Ward Hunt) had considered the number of workmen that should be employed in the Dockyards, and it was thought necessary to maintain a peace establishment of no less than 16,000 men, who were required on the average. This number has been maintained since the year 1874–5, except during the year 1878, when they were temporarily increased by a considerable number, under the Vote of Credit, the number being raised to 17,670, owing to exceptional circumstances in the political situation of Europe. The number of tons' weight of hull built in the year which is now coming to a close was 12,073, the number proposed by the programme having been 11,672, builders' measurements. The tons' weight of hull proposed to be built next year is the same as for the current year—11,587, and the number of men employed in ship-building about the same—that is to say, 5,800. It has not been found possible to proceed as rapidly as we expected with some of the more important ships—namely, the Inflexible, the Ajax, and the Agamemnon, now in course of construction, owing to the experiments on armour-plates which were found to be necessary, and to which I will presently refer. I stated to the House last year that the Government had deliberately delayed the completion of these ships, in order that experiments 598 might be made with the compound steel and iron armour which was being at that time introduced. Very careful experiments were being conducted at Shoeburyness, and I will now state the conclusions that were arrived at. It was found—First, that flat plates of compound armour of 12 inches thick are more effective against iron and steel projectiles, fired normally at high velocity from a 9-inch gun, than plates of iron 14 inches thick. The advantage still remaining on the side of the thin plates appears to me to be not less than two inches. But I propose to say that for flat plates there is a gain or saving of weight of 20 per cent—that is to say, that against 14 inches of iron weight we might set 11¼inches of compound armour, or 12 inches against 15 inches. Second, that against oblique fire there will remain beyond this a considerable advantage in favour of the steel-faced plates. Third, that while the first made of the large turret plates for the Inflexible have not shown so great an advantage as is here claimed against normal tire, their circular form makes the advantage under oblique fire more important. Fourth, that our experience with the tests for the turret plates of the Inflexible show that the manufacture is steadily improving, and we may expect to have much more favourable results as we go on.This is the testimony of Mr. Barnaby, the Director of Construction; not likely to be a prejudiced man, and whose authority, will, I believe, be recognized by every hon. Member opposite. I think the Committee will, therefore, consider that I did right in delaying the construction of the ships in question until this Report was before me, and that it was necessary to do so until the question of armour should be decided. We are now going on rapidly, building with compound steel and iron armour, and we believe that the results will fully justify the delay which has taken place. By contract work, during the last year, we have constructed 31,727 tons weight of hull, and, therefore, practically, the proposed amount of tonnage has been built. I have now to ask the attention of the Committee to a question of considerable importance—namely, that of the arming of our ships. Some little time ago I was in communication with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, who fully recognized the importance and the necessity of very carefully considering this question of arming the larger and more important ships now in course of construction, and a Committee was appointed, on which sat two Naval officers of great reputation, in order to 599 consider, in conjunction with officers of Artillery, the best form of gun to be used for this purpose. A design was submitted to the Committee of a gun which is now in course of construction at Woolwich with a view to its being tested and tried for the arming of the ships referred to. It is a breech-loading gun of 43 tons, and possesses greater powers of penetration than the breech-loaders of the old type. I have no doubt that it will be remarked that the Navy is again coming to the adoption of breech-loading guns; but that is necessary in order to insure the length of range, which cannot otherwise be obtained, and in order to secure a penetrating power which will put us in successful competition with other countries whose Navies possess breech-loading guns. My right hon. and gallant Friend entirely agreed with me in the necessity of entering into these experiments, and I believe the result will be that we shall have a gun very much more powerful and effective than hitherto, and that ultimately these new weapons will take the place of the old muzzle-loader. In addition to that, the Committee will inquire into and test the 6 and 8-inch breech-loading guns which have been brought under their notice; and I think it is possible that we may have to introduce them in place of the old 64-pounders and of the heavier guns in some of the smaller ships. It is clear that, under no circumstances, can this country have in their ships weapons inferior to those which are in use by Foreign Powers. I am aware that I am referring to an expenditure which may have to fall heavily upon the Army Votes for some years to come; but I am sure that my right hon. and gallant Friend will not hesitate to place in the Army Estimates such provisions as may be found to be really necessary to maintain the position of the country in respect both of weapons and ships. The Committee will see that the introduction of these breech-loading guns suggests also consideration with regard to the type of our vessels, which has also been very carefully considered; and we accordingly propose to lay down one ship, possibly two, of a novel type—that is to say, with barbettes instead of turrets. The other vessel would be like the Majestic and Colossus, with a speed of 14 knots, and armed with 4 breech 600 loading 42-ton guns in the turrets; and some of the new breech-loading 6-inch guns, which have considerable penetrating power, mounted elsewhere. The ship of the new type will have two fixed armour towers, with two 43-ton breech-loading guns revolving within each of them, and a battery of breech-loading guns capable of piercing armour between them. That ship will have a speed of 15 knots, and a coal stowage of 1,200 tons. The new barbette ship would carry 6 armour-piercing guns, protected from a raking fire. She has, also, an ample provision of machine guns and a torpedo armament; an increase of speed from 14 to 15 knots; the buoyancy and stability secured by a long belt of armour in the region of the water line, about 140 to 150 feet long, this protection by steel-faced armour being about equal to the corresponding protection by iron armour on the water line of the Inflexible. Provision is also made to admit water to unarmoured parts above the below-water armoured deck before and abaft belt, so that damage in action might not put the ship out of trim or make her unmanageable. The cost of the hull and engine will be about £540,000, being about £15,000 above the price paid per knot of speed above the Colossus. The coal supply will be the same as the Colossus, and the coal endurance will be the same in the case of the two ships at the same speed. In the barbette ship, however, the engines can exert 1,000 horse power more than those of the Colossus; so that when they both steam at the rate of 14 knots an hour the Colossus would be able to do no more, while the barbette ship could reach a speed of 15 knots. There will also be provision made for stowing more coals. The tonnage of the new vessels will be the same as that of the Colossus, which is 6,150 tons, or probably, by builder's measurement, 7,000. We shall, therefore, have a knot more speed, with equal protection, so far as the ship is concerned, with the barbette tower as against the turret. Many of my hon. and gallant Friends appear to entertain some doubt as to whether the guns will perform their duty equally well in a barbette tower as in a turret; but, I think, it will be found that there are advantages to be gained from the barbette plan which will, on the whole, outweigh those of the turret system. It is true 601 that the men would be, to a certain extent, exposed; but, seeing that the gun will be a breech-loader, the angle, at which it would be possible for the machine guns to reach the men within the tower, would be very difficult to attain. Seeing that so many other Powers are constructing barbette ships, I think we do well in meeting those vessels with ships of the same character. It is clear that we can obtain greater speed from a barbette ship than from a turret ship. The proposal is, to build at least one barbette ship, and probably two, and the third will be of the type of the Colossus. There is no doubt as to the force and power of the Colossus. She is a vessel that can probably cope with any ship likely to be brought in contact with her. Now, as to the question of cruisers, which we have also had before us, there is no doubt that we require that speed which is necessary to keep the seas, protect our commerce, and to cope with any vessels likely to be brought against us. I have been under the impression that we have a Navy at least equal to the Navies of other nations; but it is a remarkable circumstance that when I come into the House of Commons I hear that every other country has ships of a kind which England does not possess. According to the views of the hon. and gallant Member for Gravesend (Captain Pim), we have neither ships nor reserves. All I can say is, that I myself should have regretted if we had built much faster than we have done during the last 15 or 20 years. Some ships were referred to just now in the course of this debate as being both costly and useless at the present time, which have not been built more than 15 years. If we had spent £15,000,000 sterling 10 years ago in building other ships we should find ourselves at the present time in a very awkward position. This is the extreme difficulty in which we are placed; science is advancing now more rapidly, guns are becoming more powerful, armour is increasing in extent and thickness, and this process, going on step by step, would be sufficient in itself to render a vessel laid down 10 years ago almost obsolete by the time she might be completed. Therefore, it requires the utmost prudence in order to avoid the undertaking of work which might be afterwards found to be useless to the country. I am, at all events, certain that the cruisers will 602 be of the greatest possible advantage to the Service, and we have determined to lay down three unarmoured vessels, which are to be built by contract, with the object of getting, as economically as we can, a fast ship that can be used for cruising in time of war. For my own part, for such a purpose I greatly rely upon the assistance of our fast merchant ships, and I know that in our Merchant Navy there are some of the fastest vessels in the world. I think that in time of war we should have no difficulty in laying our hands on 10, 20, or 30 of such ships, which could in a short time be rendered as efficient as need be against ordinary shot and shell, so far as their boilers and engines are concerned. Again, the arming of these ships would offer no difficulty, and would be completed in a very short period. But I admit it is not desirable to rely entirely upon our merchant ships; we should have something else to fall back upon in case of need, and, therefore, I propose to lay down three fast vessels, intended to steam 16 knots at full speed and with an average ocean speed of 14 knots, with coal enough to carry them 4,000 miles at this rate. The dimensions of the vessels will be the same as in the case of the Iris and the Mercury. They will have the protecting steel deck over the engines and boilers; but with engines of less power than the Mercury and Iris, and with stowage for 1,000 tons of coal. They will be armed with the most efficient guns that we can secure, mounted so as to minimize the number of men, and to secure the best possible result for cruising purposes. And here I may remark upon one feature of the inventive power of the present day, which we welcome with the greatest satisfaction. An automatic gun-carriage has recently been brought under our notice, and is about to be tried at Shoeburyness. If it succeeds, as it has been reported to have succeeded elsewhere, we shall be able to work a 6-inch breech-loading gun with from three to four men instead of 12 or 13 as are now required. The Committee will at once see that the Service would be greatly strengthened if it could send a larger number of ships to sea with a small number of men, and that points directly to the difficulty under which our cruisers now lie. Their crews are much too large for the work they are capable of doing 603 and for the circumstances in which, they are likely to be placed. From this cause alone the danger of loss of life is so considerable that they have frequently to be kept out of range, and in consequence have been found unable to do the work assigned to them. Again, the commanding officers are placed under a very heavy responsibility by exposing the lives of so large a number of men. On the other hand, it will be seen that a small ship, with a powerful armament, and manned by a small crew, would be extremely valuable for cruising purposes. The automatic gun-carriage, therefore, if it succeeds, will enormously increase the power of the cruiser and make her much more defensible, inasmuch as where we are now capable of manning one gun we should be able to man three or four. I have no doubt, that if thus adapted, these vessels will prove most efficient cruisers; but the question is under consideration, and I have thought better, on the whole, to proceed with the vessels I propose to lay down, rather than undertake costly alterations in connection with vessels of the class of the Black Prince and the Northumberland. No doubt, these vessels which, from the length and thinness of their armour, are no longer capable of taking their place in line of battle, might, when they have receivednew boilers and compound engines, be converted into most efficient cruisers. All I can say now, however, is that they stand over for further consideration. With reference to the repair of ships, we have only repaired those whose types are considered still suitable for the present wants of the Navy. We are from time to time considering the case of ships which are becoming more or less obsolete, and when we find the cost of repairs in excess of the probable value of the vessels we hesitate to undertake them. When the cost is not excessive compared with their ultimate value, they are repaired, and when repaired they are almost as good, if not quite as good, as when first turned out. The misfortune is, that there is no customer to take our obsolete ships. I should be exceedingly glad now to part with several vessels, if I had the good fortune to know where to meet with a customer; but however good their engines and boilers may be, their only use, it would seem, is to break them up for old iron and old wood, and to sell their copper. Nothing can be 604 more disagreeable than to see a large number of ships in our Dockyards, occupying moorings, and receiving repairs to a larger amount than could be represented by their future value to the Service. We should be glad to get rid of the expense if we could dispose of them. The hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) has spoken of the greater cost of building ships now, as compared with the cost some years ago, and I quite agree in his remarks on that point. There is no comparison between the cost of vessels now and what it was 10 years ago. The materials of which they are built are dearer, the labour employed in their construction is dearer, and their machinery and fittings are more costly. The Inflexible, for instance, cost £76 per ton, while the Sultan only cost £47 per ton. We have now, however, come to the conclusion that every first-class ship should have a torpedo boat attached, and two attendant boats. The torpedo boat would cost £5,000, and the attendant boats would be £1,850 and £850, so that this alone will make an increase in the cost amounting to £7,700. I only mention this to indicate the fact that greater cost is now incurred for these vessels than was the case a few years ago. The Committee will observe that we have made provision for a number of torpedo boats, being advised it was necessary to increase their number, so as to be able to supply ultimately a proportion of two torpedo boats to each first-class ship. The ships will not carry them, but they will be kept in store at Malta for the use of the Mediterranean Squadron, so that they can take them on board when required, and provision will also be made to have them in store in England, so that if, unfortunately, war should arise, there will be ample provision. We have, I think, acted very prudently in not building these vessels more rapidly than we have done; as the torpedo boat of to-day is very different from that of three or four years ago. It is more rapid, more effective, more seaworthy, more dangerous for the enemy. With regard to our maritime strength, and the condition of the Navy for the purposes of defence, I do not at all undervalue the adverse view which has been expressed of them. I know that the remarks which have been made on the subject have been made with the desire of increasing the Naval strength 605 of the country, but I cannot admit that such observations are justified by facts, as must be clear to all who have examined the subject carefully. But, should the occasion unhappily arise, the country would be well able to defend itself. There is no insecurity in our position, and there should be no feeling of insecurity as the result of these remarks. We have the Dreadnought, the Nelson, the Advance, the Serpent, the Neptune, the Sultan, the Repulse, the Devastation, and the Orion, nine ironclads now ready in our Dockyards. We have, besides, the Inconstant, which has taken some of the crew of the Alexandria to Malta, four corvettes, two despatch vessels, capable of carrying guns, the Iris and the Mercury, four sloops, and some gun-boats. But in addition to these we have 6 turret ships for harbour defence, 12 gun-boats for river service, and 25 gun-boats for harbour service. I have now put before the Committee what our policy is with regard to the Navy. I think I have indicated that our policy is not to have the biggest ship, nor the biggest guns. We are content to have a 43-ton gun as the largest necessary. We prefer two such guns to one 80-ton, and we prefer two ships carrying four such guns to one ship with two 80-ton guns. In other words, we prefer the smallest ships we can find which shall combine protection to their vital parts, with speed, which we consider to be essential, and also with handiness. It is not possible, however, to have these conditions in small ships. If you will have speed, you must have power; if you will have protection, you must have size in order to carry the necessary weight of armament; and if you will have coal-endurance, you must have size. But our aim is to have the smallest ship that will combine these qualities. Then as regards the turret, I confess I am inclined to view it with a certain amount of distrust; but I feel bound to treat with great respect the opinion of those who regard the system with great affection, and consider that the turret affords the very greatest protection to the men who have to fight the guns; and it is, above all, those who have to fight the guns who should have confidence in the security of the means adopted for their protection. The barbette principle will, I believe, be found satisfactory. Then 606 as regards cruisers for the protection of our commerce, we require speed, and their engines and boilers must be protected by a deck, and they must also have coal-endurance. They should be as moderate in size as is consistent with the requisite speed, and, without fixing any limit, we think that speed should be equal to that of the fastest mercantile steamers attained under present arrangements, and the highest speed of any other cruiser on the seas. I may add to what I have already said with regard to machine-guns, which have entered so largely of late into discussions on naval warfare, that I have had to make some demand for them on my right hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary of State for War. They have come into naval warfare during the last few years, and are most valuable, and in fact absolutely necessary, for defence against attack of torpedoes. These machine-guns are easily trained, and they afford almost the only protection that is to be had against light craft stealing quietly alongside. The demand we have made has been met by my right hon. and gallant Friend, and we have furnished ourselves with a large number of these defences. On the whole, we are inclined to think that the "Nordenfeld" is the best gun for defence against the approach of torpedo-boats. With regard to the tonnage to be built by contract, it includes three steam cruisers, a despatch vessel, eight gun-boats, a surveying steamer, and other vessels, making altogether about 4,000 tons. The horse-power, also to be provided by contract, amounts to 24,141. I do not think I need detain the Committee longer on these Votes, and I will proceed to the others which require some explanation. With respect to Vote 8, I may say a Committee has been appointed to consider the position of the Naval Medical Service, with a view of placing the pay and emoluments of that branch of the Service in some relation to those of Army medical officers, which have been greatly improved since the recent Warrant was issued. In the nomination of that Committee officers of all grades have been appointed. It has been my object that every rank of the Service should be represented, in order that the subject might be thoroughly investigated in view of the discrepancies in the mode of treatment of these officers. It is my hope that in 607 this way the grievances of which these officers have complained may be ascertained and remedied, and I have no doubt the result will be satisfactory to the Service and to the country. Vote 10 calls for a few slight remarks. All I have to say on it is, that we have to ask for a large amount for armour-plate this year, and. that has been met by some reduction in steel plate not so much wanted. On the whole, we have been able to keep down the Vote without in the slightest degree damaging the efficiency of the Service. Vote 11 calls for one remark only, and that is with regard to the Chatham extension and the Devonport dock. The Committee will see that the charge for Naval Barracks has almost disappeared. I hope that substantial progress will be made this year; but the Committee will understand that it is a matter of extreme difficulty to settle such a matter in the first instance, as a great increase is required in order to make the necessary provisions for all the grades of officers that have to be accommodated. I trust, however, the result will be satisfactory. With regard to Chatham Dockyard, I am glad to say we are approaching the end of the works we have been accomplishing there, and the extension of Chatham will be be completed early in 1881; so that by the end of the year we trust to see the works completed, with the exception of the removal of the dam, and that will be completed in 1882. In Devonport Dock, the new large dock will, I trust, be completed towards the end of next year, and we shall then be relieved of two considerable sources of expenditure, which have considerably hampered our operations. On the Vote 15 there is little to be said. I am glad to say that, although this year there will be an increase of £3,540, the amounts provided for under the system of commutation will begin to cease in 1881–2, when a charge of £24,516 will disappear. I do not think I need occupy the attention of the Committee longer. Taking these Estimates all round, I can recommend them to the Committee with confidence that, while they are peace Estimates and economical Estimates, and they have been prepared with a desire to impose as small a charge on the Exchequer as possible, they are sufficient for the works which it is my duty 608 from time to time to undertake on the part of this House. I am not unmindful of remarks which are sometimes made, drawing a comparison between the Fleet of this country and those of foreign countries; but I am still doubtful whether we should embark on such an ambitious era of shipbuilding as they suggest, or whether we are relatively so weak as has been represented. I believe we have a sufficient force of first-class ships, and of men to defend our interests, if they should be attacked; and we have sufficient resources within ourselves for meeting any emergencies that may arise. I do not think there will be a combination of European Powers against us. I cannot imagine a state of things in which we should be left without an ally; though, undoubtedly, if it did take place, we should be in a position that would involve anxiety. But I believe that in ordinary circumstances, even if they did involve the necessity for war, we should find we had ships on which we might rely, and men who would rise to their duty, and give a satisfactory account of any enemy who might attack us. For my own part, I rely largely on the Mercantile Marine, being satisfied that from this source we can, if necessary, derive very valuable assistance. I feel assured that they would be willing to enter the Service if called upon. It rests with themselves; but I am sure we should have them when we wanted them. I know it is the opinion of some hon. Gentlemen that we ought to subsidize the Mercantile Marine. I do not say that under no circumstances should a subsidy be given, though I do not myself believe it to be necessary; but when we had subsidized ships for 10, 15, or 20 years, and they had disappeared as completely as some of our own, it would not be a very satisfactory result. When, on the other hand, a time came of war breaking out, we should, I believe, be able in 24 hours to lay our hands on a sufficient number of vessels, making, of course, a proper compensation to their owners. I do not think we should be in any better pecuniary position by giving them 10s. or 20s. per ton per annum. If we did so, I think we should find that when we wanted the ships they would not be available. It is clear that by no subsidy it is in the power of the Government to give would it be possible to 609 induce owners to keep their ships at home. Ships must be employed. They are built for profit and trade, and must go where profit and trade demand that they should be sent. If they were in any foreign port, we could not take them under any circumstance; but if they were in any colonial port, they would be as available for us as if they were here, with or without any subsidy. If the necessity should arise, I believe we should be able to find a sufficient number of ships in our own ports. I am perfectly willing, however, to consider the whole question, and to give it the attention and the thought it deserves; but I am, at the same time, sure the shipowners of the country are a patriotic body, and would be ready to give the Government any assistance in their power which might be necessary for the defence of the country. I will not occupy the attention of the Committee longer. I only ask you to give us the Vote I have placed in your hands.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That 58,800 men and boys be employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1881, including 13,000 Royal Marines."—(Mr. W. H. Smith.)
§ MR. E. J. REED
said, he considered the statement the Committee had just listened to was a very satisfactory and business-like one, and one which he could not help contrasting, for its quiet, economical, and moderate character, with those which were delivered by the late First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Ward Hunt) when the present Government took Office. The speech which they had just heard was, substantially, very much like those they used to hear when the right hon. Gentlemen below (Mr. Childers and Mr. Goschen) sat upon the Treasury Bench. He had listened attentively to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, bearing in mind the circumstance that six years ago, when the late First Lord of the Admiralty of the present Administration addressed them, they listened to a proposition that was embodied in a motto, and that was contained in the words—"We will not give you a paper Fleet." He (Mr. Reed) was one of those who always believed that the late First Lord, in using those words, did not in 610 terms accuse his Predecessors of having done that. He did not say as much; but he left the Committee to draw the inference. Well, seeing that the country had had six years of Conservative administration of the Fleet, and that the Committee had listened to such a speech from the right hon. Gentleman, he thought it was right and proper that they should now, with some little elaboration, review the course of that right hon. Gentleman in the administration of the Navy, particularly one branch of that Service—namely, the construction of ships, with respect to which the present Administration had not ceased to cast obloquy on their Predecessors, whom they accused of all sorts of shortcomings. The right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken did not object to pose outside of that House in the attitude of a man who had delivered the Navy from a state of great depression, and given the country, instead of a paper Fleet, a substantial one, fit for any service that might be required of it. He (Mr. Reed) should be sorry in any degree to ally himself with persons who could see nothing but evil and shortcomings in the labours of their opponents. On the contrary, he was ready to give the Government credit on two points, and they related chiefly to unarmoured vessels. The Government had, by its own action, in pursuance of the proposals of the Chief Constructor of the Navy, stimulated on various occasions the manufacture of mild steel, adapted for shipbuilding purposes, from which manufacture the Estimates showed that great advantages had resulted. Anyone who would take the trouble to look down the Navy Estimates of the present year would find that for a given weight of hull in a ship a very much larger amount of offensive and defensive efficiency was to be had; and that, he contended, was entirely due to the encouragement which this matter had received from the Admiralty, and he wished to give them all credit for it. There was another respect in which he thought the Government had done good service, and it was one in reference to which the right hon. Gentleman had made his concluding observations. Everyone who knew the greatness of our Royal and our Mercantile Fleets must have felt that, at one time or another, it might be desirable to make the latter available for the former in 611 the event of war. Now, the present Board of Admiralty—the good work was commenced by the late First Lord (Mr. Ward Hunt)—the present Board of Admiralty did enter into a course of investigation into the character of the merchant ships of the country, particularly the leading merchant ships, pointing out to their owners and builders in what respects they were deficient, chiefly in regard to water-tight compartments; and they established a sub-department, in which the merchant steam ships of the country were studied and recorded. He believed that the course thus taken by the Board of Admiralty had, in many cases, stimulated substantial improvement in the construction of these vessels. The right hon. Gentleman the present First Lord of the Admiralty had remarked upon the propriety of substituting these vessels for those which had formerly been employed; but he (Mr. Reed) was bound to mention a grievance which had been complained of. The country had lately passed through a time when the Government had occasion to hire or take up a great many vessels for the Public Service; and the complaint which had been made was, that when the opportunity arose, and large merchant steamers had to be taken up, they gave no sort of preference or consideration to the owners of these vessels, who had incurred a large expense and outlay in order to meet the requirements of the Admiralty. If that was really the case, he thought the Admiralty were in some degree to blame, because they had certainly been the means of inducing the owners of such ships to incur increased expense. He had listened with very great satisfaction to the energetic repudiation which the right hon. Gentleman gave to the statements of the hon. and gallant Member for Gravesend (Captain Pim) with regard to the alleged disgraceful condition of our seamen. He was not surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that that was altogether inconsistent with the information he had received, and with the unanimous voice of the Naval Service. He (Mr. Reed) could himself mention a circumstance which went far to show how entirely without foundation the views of the hon. and gallant Member were. He was lately conversing with a distinguished Admiral respecting the 612 Naval Service; and he was told that it was undoubtedly the case that the seamen of the Navy had so much improved, and at the present time bore so high a character, that it was a question whether the Marines, whose duty it originally was to preserve order and discipline, were any longer required. Now, he did not suppose that there was any necessity or desire to abolish the Marine Service; but the very fact that it might be abolished, so far as the character and conduct of the seamen were concerned, was a proof that they were not open to the aspersions which the hon. and gallant Member for Gravesend had cast upon them. He might mention another circumstance. A gallant Admiral lately commanding in the Mediterranean assured him that at one time, when he suggested the landing of his seamen in large numbers in one of the French ports, the French Admiral almost thought he was beside himself. But, nevertheless, the men were allowed to land without any special orders, precautions, or limitations, and after having been landed systematically for a fortnight, the French Admiral told the English Admiral that there had not been the slightest ground for any complaint against any seaman of the British Squadron. These were circumstances which he (Mr. Reed) thought in themselves, if there were no other, told most favourably in regard to the character and conduct of the seamen. But the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman was far more valuable than any which he (Mr. Reed) could give to the Committee upon the point, and it went to show that the men were certainly not open to the animadversions which had been made in regard to them by the hon. and gallant Member for Gravesend. He (Mr. Reed) also concurred in what the right hon. Gentleman had said in regard to the character of our officers. He had not hesitated in past times to endeavour to enforce in his place in that House various improvements in the pay and condition of the engineers and other mechanical officers; and he could not help thinking that we were living in a time when every possible encouragement must be given to the general improvement of all classes of officers of the Navy. He was well aware, and, no doubt, hon. Members were well aware, that greater demands than ever were now being made upon the executive 613 officers for scientific and technical study and acquirements. The right hon. Gentleman had not referred to the matter in the course of his remarks; but he (Mr. Reed) had heard with great pleasure that some time ago the Admiralty had the courage to appoint to study at the Naval College at Greenwich naval lieutenants on full pay. He felt that it was both a necessary and a judicious step. He had always felt that while these demands on the officers of the Navy and the Naval Service generally were increasing, they must also carefully consider how far they would check the entry of officers at the bottom of the Naval Service, because it could not be doubted that it was the proper policy of the country—and the statement of the right hon. Gentleman went far to prove it—to keep down, as much as possible, the number of officers, and to raise, as much as they possibly could, the character and pay of the Service. In order to raise the character of the Service, it was necessary that they must raise the rewards and emoluments of the Service; and while doing this, and keeping down the number of the officers entered, they would, in some respects, reform the pension system. Nothing could be worse than the principles upon which that system was now conducted. At the present moment a sum of £2,000,000 sterling was being paid annually by the country out of Navy Estimates for Non-effective Services; and he thought it was the duty of every well-wisher of the Service to endeavour to reduce, as far as possible, the number of claimants for pensions in the future. At the same time, he wished to guard himself against being for a moment supposed to encourage anything in the shape of injustice towards the existing officers of Her Majesty's Service. Such an idea had never entered his thoughts. He should like now to turn for a moment or two to the Shipbuilding Vote, on the strength of which the Government based their original propositions, and upon which they went about seeking to establish a reputation. He would ask the Committee to consider carefully how far, in the six long years of their Administration, the present Government had carried out their proposals not to give the country ships upon paper, or rather not to keep the ships of the country on paper, but to give to the country ships fit for active service. In discussing this 614 question, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not expect him to consider, in any degree, anything that happened under the Vote of Credit. He was one of those who thought that the Vote of Credit, placed at their disposal by the generosity of Parliament, enabled them to do much, towards improving the Service, especially the Transport Service. He thought that it enabled them to do useful service; but it was one which they could not have had in view in 1874, when they declared that their policy was one of actual, against paper, ships. Nor was it necessary to make much reference to ships built by contract. The iron-clad vessels which Her Majesty's Government had constructed in private firms during the period they had been in Office were singularly few, and certainly did not entitle the Government to boast of their performances, or give any sort of confirmation or justification of the statements which they made on entering Office. What the Government had in their mind, and what the late First Lord of the Admiralty had in his mind, and what the present First Lord of the Admiralty had in his mind, was that they would so employ the labour of the Dockyards as to give the country actually finished ships, and not ships on paper, year after year. They were to provide the country with ships which should be in a condition in which they could be made use of for the service of the country. Well, when the Government came into Office there were in the course of building at the time six iron-clad vessels—the Superb, afterwards called the Alexandra, the Temeraire, the Thunderer, the Dreadnought, the Shannon, and the Inflexible. These, when the Government entered upon Office, were ships upon paper; and, in pursuance of their professions to the House and the country, it was their duty to get them off the Paper as soon as possible, complete and finished, and ready for the service of the State. Six years had now rolled away, and they had been successful in getting five out of the six ready for sea and afloat. One of the six—the Inflexible—had taken the whole period of their Administration, and was so far unfinished at the present moment that she appeared in the present Estimates, and a considerable sum was asked for her completion. He now proposed to tell the Committee, if he might be allowed, under what conditions Her Majesty's Government had finished 615 the five ships initiated by their Predecessors. He could not help thinking that for a Board of Admiralty, with great intentions and resources, and with £10,000,000 a-year voted for the Naval Service, it was not a very great thing to have got five ships finished which their Predecessors had begun, and some of which their Predecessors had advanced almost to completion. He wished to inquire now how it was that Her Majesty's Government performed this great task? He believed he should be able to show fully how they did it. He would take the ships in the order in which he had just mentioned them, and point out what had been done in regard to each. The Alexandra, as he would call her, was put before the House on the entrance of Her Majesty's Government into Office. In passing, he might remark that although he was about to give the figures of 1874–5, it was not open to Her Majesty's Government to say that he was giving the figures of their Predecessors, because, in the following year, they put forward the same figures, after a year's tenure of Office, with one or two slight exceptions, which he was sure the right hon. Gentleman opposite was not small-minded enough to claim, for the purposes of a comparison like this. The Alexandra, they were told by the Government, was to be completed for £113,660 for labour only. In the course of years the Government were successful in their endeavours, and did complete her; but for a cost which was in excess of the original Estimate by the sum of £25,000. The Temeraire was also finished, and had only a small excess upon her, which was scarcely worth mention—a sum of £6,233. The Thunderer was nearly finished when the Government entered upon Office. There was only £13,000 to spend upon her; but they spent £11,700 upon her besides, and then finished her. The Dreadnought was to be completed for £70,000. They spent all that money upon her, and £88,000 besides, before she was finished. In the case of the Shannon they were to finish her for £73,000, and they spent upon her £83,000. The Inflexible was the last ship. When they came into Office six years ago this ship had been commenced. They were now going out of Parliament—he did not say that they were going out of Office—for he was not one 616 of those who were sanguine enough to suppose that; but, at any rate, they had spent the whole six years of their administration over the Inflexible, and they now came down to the House this year and told the Committee that this wonderful vessel was not yet complete, and that they would want an additional sum of £25,000 this year for labour to finish her. Hon. Members would bear in mind that she was begun when right hon. Gentlemen below him were in Office, and that she had been a paper ship ever since. It was said that this additional sum would complete her, if the Board of Admiralty were so fortunate as not to have any more new inventions put before them—for that was what seemed to bother them more than anything else. New inventions were at the bottom of the whole matter. Somebody invented a new armour plate, and immediately the Admiralty stopped all their ships. They had kept the Inflexible on paper for all these years; and when they finished her, if they were fortunate enough to do so without further delay, instead of the £125,000 she was estimated to cost originally for labour, the Government would have expended £106,000 besides for labour only—that was to say, £231,000, or, strictly speaking, nearly £232,000 in all. That was the sum she would have cost, instead of the £125,000 which was down for her when the Government first came into Office. Why had this gone on? The right hon. Gentleman told the House, without a blush as far as he (Mr. Reed) could perceive, that it was a deliberate act on his part to stop the Ajax and the Agamemnon, because somebody had suggested improvements. The right hon. Gentleman said it was by his own deliberate act that these ships had been stopped, and that they had been kept ships upon paper. It was the result of the right hon. Gentleman's own action in accordance with his own judgment; and if the same kind of judgment was still to have sway, heaven only knew when the country would get any more ships, because improvements were always going on. That was the curious history of the Inflexible. In March, 1874, she had been begun, and £14,000 was then spent upon her. It was then estimated that she would cost £125,000 for labour before she was completed. In March, 1878, the ship had been four years in progress. All the £125,000 had been 617 spent, and £12,000 besides. Then the Government came down, and in 1878–9 asked the House to give them £37,000 more to go on with. With that liberality which never failed, the House of Commons gave it to them, and they came next year—last year—and asked for £32,532 more, and they got it, as they were sure to do. Now they came down this year and asked for £25,700 more, and were good enough to tell the Committee that if they granted that sum then, indeed, they would at last get this Inflexible off the paper; but the process would have absorbed the existence of an entire Parliament, and they had not yet completed it. It might be said—but the right hon. Gentleman was too candid and too honourable to say so—that the Government might have had particular difficulties with the ships which they had inherited from their Predecessors. He would, therefore, endeavour to ascertain what had been the case with their own ships, and what were their own proposals. If his judgment was not at fault, he believed he should be able to show that the Government had been during the six years of their Office, and promised to be if they were allowed to go on in the same career, the greatest and most strenuous advocates of paper ships that ever existed. He would, in the first instance, call attention to their proposals. In March, 1876, four years ago, the Agamemnon was begun. This was a ship which the Predecessors of Her Majesty's Government had nothing whatever to do with, and it was a ship which he himself had not been able to admire. It was entirely their own, and they had now been four mortal years in building the Agamemnon. It was one of those ships in reference to which the right hon. Gentleman almost boasted that he had not built her. Before he proceeded farther, he (Mr. Reed) should like for a moment to close with that argument. Did the right hon. Gentleman suppose that he lived in any special period of change? Did he not know that his Predecessors had to administer the Navy under circumstances of great and constant change and novelty of inventions? If he did not, let him turn round and ask the right hon. and gallant Admiral behind him (Sir John Hay), who was well acquainted with the practical difficulties of iron-clad shipbuilding from the first, and by his 618 labour and skill had endeavoured to meet them. Was it not that the right hon. Gentleman preferred to consider anybody's invention rather than fulfil the obligations he placed himself under when he took Office, and the professions that he made to the public on the part of a Ministry, who, above all things, would give the country actual ships, and not paper ships, for the money voted? What had happened with regard to the Agamemnon? She had been four years in progress when the right hon. Gentleman came to the House again, and asked for a large sum for the present year to spend upon her. And then he had the candour to tell the Committee that if they granted him that sum they would actually have advanced this ship, after five years' work upon her, to the position of three-fourths of her construction, and that was to be the case next year—1881. If the Committee granted the Admiralty what they now asked for, she would then be brought up to three-fourths of her construction. Now, let any hon. Member take a pencil and a piece of paper, and calculate if it took five years to build three-fourths of a ship, how long would it take to build the whole of it. He had made the calculation himself, and he found that the right hon. Gentleman proposed to complete the Agamemnon in January, 1883, or nearly seven years after her commencement. And this was to be the operation of an Admiralty, which, above all things, was to give the country real serviceable ships, and not ships upon paper. At present the Agamemnon was worthless, because she was only a ship upon paper. The real fact was this—that if another war should arise in 1880, 1881, or 1882, the Administration would have been in power for several years, would have made use of the whole resources of Her Majesty's Dockyards, and have spent all the money allowed to them, and yet would never have built one single ship for the Naval Service of their own initiation. [An hon. MEMBER: These are iron-clad ships.] He meant iron-clads. He was speaking entirely of armourclad ships. Then there was another ship—the Ajax. That ship was begun with the Agamemnon, or at about the same time; and the case was even worse with her. They were told that if they gave the Government all the money they asked for this year for the Ajax she would be advanced to 70–100ths or 619 less than three-fourths of her full construction by next year. By the simple calculation he had made before the ship would be finished in May, 1883; and this was the second ship initiated by this Conservative Administration, who came into Office to show the folly the Liberals had been guilty of, and how they had lingered over their ships, and kept them on paper for so long a time. He could certainly find nothing to match this in the annals of the Predecessors of the present Government. He was only seven years in the service of the Admiralty, from the day he entered it until he left it, and before he left it ships had been built from his design, sent to sea, returned home, and been paid off during that time. And yet they were to be told by this Administration, who held themselves out to the country as peculiarly capable in the construction of ships, that if they would allow them to go on for nine years and a-half they would then have given to the country two ships, all formed out of their own mind and conceived by themselves alone. He failed to see that things had got much better. As he went on and exhausted the roll, it would be seen that things did not improve. The next vessel on the list was the little ship at Chatham—the Conqueror. It was a comparatively small vessel. It had been on hand all the last year; and they were told in the Estimates that if they voted the money the Government asked for, then this remarkable result would take place. The Conqueror, as he had said, was comparatively a small vessel, nothing near so large as the others; but if Parliament voted them the money they asked for they were told that by the end of the coming financial year, after having been two years at work upon her, and having had as much money as they had asked for to expend upon her, she would be in the extraordinary position of being four-tenths built, or less than half built, after two years. And yet they were told that this Admiralty, this energetic Admiralty, who had so much aversion to ships on paper, actually proposed to take five years in building a little ship like the Conqueror. Surely, if they were to make any progress at all, they must stir the Admiralty up. After what they had heard to-night, and after the universal sentiment on the other side of the House in favour of more shipbuilding and more rapid shipbuilding, 620 he certainly was bound to say that, instead of being better than a Liberal Administration, they had been much worse; and, in the case of their Liberal Predecessors, the latter never talked about what they intended to do and made no professions. Then, again, there was the Polyphemus. The First Lord of the Admiralty told them the Polyphemus was an experimental ship. No doubt, she was; from all he knew of her. But she was a very small ship, of some 1,600 tons; and any private firm might build her in 18 months, or, at the outside, in two years. But they were told that this ship was not to be advanced in anything like that way; but at the end of three years, having been already two years in progress; she was to be 90–100ths built in March next year, taking four years to build altogether after her initiation. Thus, in three or four years, they would only have been able to turn out this one wretched ship. Then there were two other ships which were really worse than the first as regarded progress. What were the proposals of the Government with regard to the Colossus? He was not going into the question of the ship, but would only say that there was nothing that they knew of to prevent the work upon it going forward at the rate of progress which it was making, and was to make, this year. According to the Estimates, it would occupy five years and eight months, or nearly six years, in construction. With regard to the Majestic, according to the rate of progress promised upon her, she would be built in about six years and 10 months. He could not imagine that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had ever looked into these facts and figures, when he put before the Committee the proposal to occupy five, six, and seven years in building single ships. Everybody must know that it was the most miserable and wanton waste of public money to delay the building of war ships for that number of years. The result would be this—that the present Administration, if it remained in Office, would not, for years to come, have put a single ship of their own design into the service of the country. He was bound to say that these Estimates ought not, in his opinion, to be passed, and that the Committee should not accede for a single moment to the proposals of the Government for laying down other ships when 621 so little progress was made. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had observed that they might congratulate themselves in not having to lay down many new ships, because there were so many changes continually taking place that they could not tell that vessels would remain satisfactory. The work upon ships ought to be done with the greatest possible despatch, and the Government ought not to begin other ships before completing those they had laid down. The present Administration had brought the country to this—that, having obtained all the money they demanded for the Navy, they had, during their term of Office, completed four iron-clads which their Predecessors had begun. He hoped that that consideration would have some weight with the Admiralty. He was not sufficiently a Party man to endeavour, even for a single moment, to make an observation for the purpose of depreciating the Admiralty; but he should earnestly press upon them to take the incomplete ships off paper only, and make them fit for the service of the country. It had been said that they must proceed slowly with constructing these vessels on account of the numerous changes that were continually being suggested. If this line were to be adopted, they might go on delaying from year to year, and when the day of action came, the nation would find the First Lord of the Admiralty's ships in the public Dockyards calmly awaiting the next suggested change. He objected to any more keels being laid down, as proposed, until the ships so left on the stocks were completed, and until the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had formed some definite idea as to what the new ships were to be like. If he waited until he got a design perfectly free from objection the country would dearly regret the delay, as changes would be continually proposed. He, however, felt the greatest relief at the statements that the ships in contemplation had not that special quality of the Inflexible which filled him with alarm. After the debates and the inquiry which had been held the Inflexible had been immensely improved; nor did he deny that in some particular instances, where some crucial point recognized by most fair minded men was to be decided, delay was not only excusable, but inevitable. With regard to the Inflexible, 622 Ajax, and Agamemnon, the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty must be aware that the whole essence of the controversy was that the battery was too much restricted in length, and that the remedy for it was an increase in the length of the battery, the whole question being one of proportion. He did not, however, wish to go into that matter. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would not put the House in the unfortunate position of having to check him from running dangerous risks, as would be done if the Inflexible style of construction were persisted in. The Government must be aware that if a battery of 100 feet would not be safe, while one of 110 would be, the former ought not to be adopted. At present, they could not tell how far the Colossus and the Majestic would be built in the right way. He had examined them, and they certainly were most magnificent and most beautiful vessels, and were justly deserving of admiration. He should be sorry to say anything calculated to bring them into doubt in other respects. He had been told, by those who ought to know about them, that they were much less open to objection than the Inflexible. On the whole, he thought it was clear that the Government had not fulfilled its obligations in respect of giving the country a real Fleet and not one on paper. It was now going back to be judged by the country for its proposals, and its non-fulfilment of them. The occupants of the Treasury Bench had never been weary of telling the country how specially fitted they were as an Administration—and the Secretary to the Admiralty in particular—for dealing with such matters as those. He (Mr. Reed) had shown how they had dealt with them. In conclusion, he would ask, what would be the position of a Conservative Government supposing, what was a very reasonable supposition, that war should break out in one, two, or three years? Such a juncture would find the Government, in some portion of the seven, eight, or nine years they had been and were taking to build the war vessels of the country, still spending millions of money, with the result that they had not even in that time succeeded in completing a single iron-clad of their own design.
said, that he felt it necessary to say a few words upon this subject, because he felt that the Navy Esti- 623 mates were being passed at a very critical period. In the earlier part of the evening, reference had been made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gravesend (Captain Pim) to the state of the discipline that existed, in the Nary. He thought he would be in Order in mentioning the matter, as it had already been referred to in Committee. So far as he knew—and he had made it his duty to inquire into matters of discipline in the Navy—he was of opinion that, in that respect, the Navy was never in a more satisfactory state than at present. He thought that his hon. and gallant Friend had been led away by the Return which had been issued of late years, giving the number of summary punishments in the Navy. All punishments now inflicted on board ship were obliged to be entered in a book, and returned to that House in the form to which his hon. and gallant Friend had alluded. Speaking of the reduction in the Fleet, it seemed to him that there was to be a reduction in the personnel of the Navy. They were to have a considerable reduction in the Marines. [Mr. W. H. SMITH: The reduction was made last year.] He (Captain Price) understood there was a still further reduction. They were asked to pass a Vote for 13,000 men, which, as the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had stated, was the same as was voted last year. But, on page 178 in the Appendix, they would find that there was an abatement of 250 men; and it seemed to him, therefore, that they were to be asked to pay £422,000, and, nevertheless, have the total of 13,000 men reduced by 250 men. But, besides the reduction in the number of Marines, there was a considerable reduction in the Coastguard. He could not understand why that reduction was to be made, in the face of the Report of the responsible advisers to the Admiralty. Admiral Phillimore, in his Report, recommended that the Coastguard should be kept up to 5,000 men. That number was to be reduced; and upon whose advice he could not understand. The number of pensioners, he was glad to see, had, however, been slightly increased; but there were very small inducements offered to the pensioners in the Reserve to come forward and drill at stated times. With regard to the armament of the Fleet, events had lately occurred which must have cast some 624 doubts upon our Artillery. The large gun, upon a vessel called the Duilio, had lately burst; and he was very glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty that at last he had consented to the introduction of breech-loaders into the Navy, and that he had appointed officers to see the proper experiments carried out. The other day it was stated by the War Department that the Navy had resisted the use of breech-loaders; he had never heard that observation made before, and he felt bound to dispute it. It was not the fact that there had been any dislike in the Navy to the use of breech loading ordnance. Many years ago, when the Armstrong breech-loaders were first introduced, several of those guns failed, especially in action; and some naval officers sent home very adverse Reports as to their use. Since that time, however, breech-loaders had been invented which were fully capable of piercing armour-plates, and even much more capable of doing so than muzzle-loaders; and he was not aware that any naval officer at the present day objected to the use of modern breech-loaders. It might be that the authorities at the Admiralty had some time ago set their face against breech-loaders; but they spoke, not with the voice of the Navy, but of the Treasury. He was sorry the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War was not present, or he would have challenged him to say that the Navy had ever offered any objection to a breech-loading gun which had been found to do its work. Coming to the shipbuilding topic, the hon. Member for Pembroke had stated a good deal with which he must say he agreed; but the hon. Gentleman had given rather a Party complexion to what he had stated. He quite agreed with him that the Fleet was not what it ought to be in numbers; but when his hon. Friend compared what had been done during the last five years with what had been done in the course of the five years previously he did not think that he placed a fair statement before the Committee. The hon. Gentleman complained that in 1874 the Fleet was spoken of hon. Members upon this side of the House as a paper Fleet, and had said that, during the six years of the present Administration, nothing had been done to make the Fleet anything more than a paper Fleet, 625 and that it was, in fact, just as much a Fleet upon paper as that of the late Administration. That assertion he must entirely dispute. Statistics had been given by the hon. Member with regard to the number of ships that had been building during the last five or six years. It should be recollected, however, that, in calling the Meet of their Predecessors a paper Fleet, they were alluding to the number of ships which had been allowed to fall into decay, and to become useless for service, although still permitted to appear on The Navy List. The best way of dealing with the question was to look at the actual state of the case at the present moment. It was no use to quote figures as to the number of ships now building, and the promised advances to be made in them; but it was necessary to look at the actual results of the case. In 1870 there was in the hands of the late Administration a magnificent Fleet of 40 iron-clads, fit for service. But in January, 1874, there were only 16 armoured ships in good condition, and 6 in fair condition. That was a very considerable reduction. Not only this, but there were, at the latter date, only 2 armoured ships under repair, while no less than 14 required repairs, and for which no provision had been made by the Government of the day. Taking, then, a comparison of those figures with those contained in the Return of the right hon. and gallant Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay), it would be seen that on January the 30th, 1879, there were 25 armoured ships in good condition, against the 16 of 1874, or an increase of 50 per cent. There were also 9 armoured ships in fair condition, as against 6 in 1874, which was also an increase of 50 per cent. In 1879, although there was that increase in the number of efficient vessels, there were only 3 armoured ships requiring repair, and for which no provision had been made, as against the 14 left in similar condition by the previous Government. He thought that was the way in which this question ought to be looked at. In speaking, therefore, of the ships of their Predecessors as a paper Fleet, they were not referring only to the number of ships built, but to all which were fit for sea. It must be remembered that iron-clads at the present day took a very long time to build; and it was the object of the present Government, besides building fur- 626 ther vessels, to prevent those already in use falling out of repair, and becoming unfit for the service of the country. The remarks which he had made were caused by the observations of the hon. Member for Pembroke, who, it seemed to him, had certainly made a Party speech, and he had felt himself bound to answer him in the same way. But after having said that he was bound to admit that he did not consider that the Fleet was at present what it ought to be in point of numbers, the hon. Member for Pembroke had made one or two apposite remarks about the various excuses which were made for the delay in the progress of shipbuilding. He had pointed out that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord had made the excuses which he had brought forward on that occasion at previous times—namely, that shipbuilding was in a transition state. They all knew that alterations in these days were very rapid; but war was a great deal more rapid, and they must be prepared with sufficient vessels, however of ten they might have to change them. He would venture to call the attention of the Committee for a moment or two to a very extraordinary statement that had recently been put before the public. He alluded to an article written by Sir Spencer Robinson in The Nineteenth Century. That gentleman was a man entitled to speak on naval matters with authority, whose opinion was of the greatest weight. He was not a member of an extreme Party. He had, he believed, sat on the opposite Benches, or if not, he had been a candidate for that honour. At any rate, he was a Liberal, and not a Conservative. That gentleman had lately put a remarkable statement before the country which, he believed, had filled the minds of many with the same uneasiness as had filled his own. In that statement a comparison had been drawn between the state of the British Navy and that of other Navies, and the conclusions arrived at were these:—He said—"The armed Fleet of England is not yet adequate to the duty it may be called upon to perform." He begged to say that these were most important words. He put the number of the Fleet at 69 armed ships. He made deductions of those ships which were incomplete or unfit, and he then put the number in fair condition as 31. Those were about the same figures as 627 those given by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Stamford. He then deducted 10 others as being weak, and 8 more which, for special reasons, could not be placed in line of battle, leaving 13, 6 of which he put in the first class, and 7 in the second. To the number of 13 he said that, if occasion should require, 6 might probably be added, which would leave a total of 19. He said, further, that supposing no repairs were required, or that they were finished by June, 1880, the English would number 8 first class, which could be soon reinforced by 3 more, and the French could number 8 also, which could be reinforced by 2 more. In the second class there would be 12 belonging to each country. We should have, besides these, 8 smaller vessels with thinner armour, which could be used for special purposes, but could not go into line of battle. Sir Spencer Robinson then compared the strengths of the European Powers. Russia had 1 first class and 6 second class iron-clads; Germany 3 first class and 4 second class, and so on. He would not trouble the Committee with the numbers of all of them. If the figures he had given them were accurate, it would appear that France, combined with any other Power, would have a larger Fleet of ships fit to go into line of battle than we should, especially when we considered the duties that our own Fleet had to perform in distant waters. The disparity was more striking when considering the unarmoured ships, cruisers and others, about which a good deal had been said. Of the first class frigates capable of going over 15½ knots there were 3, one of which was capable of steaming 16½. Of first class corvettes capable of going over 15 knots there were 4; that was to say, altogether, 7 capable of steaming 15 knots and over. Of corvettes capable of 14 knots there were 2 in our Navy. This made a total of 9 capable of going 14 knots and over. Including corvettes of a lower class, there were altogether 20 cruisers capable of going 13 knots, only 9 of which could exceed that speed. The French had, of first class frigates capable of steaming over 15½ knots, 2, as against our 3; but he believed theirs were capable of going at a greater speed. The French had, moreover, 10 second class corvettes capable of steaming 15½, and 2 of a little less power. They had, of fast cruisers 628 capable of going over 15 knots, 14 vessels, as against our 9. He would remind them that he was only taking those figures from the article he had referred to, and he wanted the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty to contradict them if he was able to do so. If those statistics were accurate, we should, in the event of war breaking out, have only the numbers he had just recited to fall back upon. He thought it a most remarkable state of things, but would not answer for the accuracy of these statistics. He was aware that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had at his disposal professional advice of the best order; and he thought it his duty, when such statements as these were made, to contradict them, if possible, in order that the matter might be set right before appealing to the country. He thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite would agree that the Fleet of this country ought at least to be equal to two, if not three, Fleets of other countries. In fact, they said as much. He should like, however, to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty also his opinion as to that before they went to the country; for he should like to feel certain that we were fully equal to two or three other nations. One thing was certain—that the opinions of Sir Spencer Robinson, and the hon. Members who had spoken in that House that night, were to the effect that the Navy of England was not adequate to the service of the country. If the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty supposed that they ought to be satisfied without an explanation, they could not but come to the conclusion that he was guided in the matter, not by professional opinion, but by political necessity. He would not trouble the Committee any longer; but he thought that the general feeling must be that, instead of the Estimates being cut down, they should rather be augmented.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, it was impossible for anyone to take exception to the tone and temper of the speech in which the First Lord of the Admiralty had explained the Estimates. He agreed with the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Reed), who said that the remarks which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman reminded him forcibly of those of his right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) 11 629 years ago. When the First Lord of the Admiralty had proceeded to advocate the reduction of the number of clerks at the Admiralty—when he entered upon the question of the necessity of reducing the number of boys in the training ships, and had explained the expediency of reducing also the number of Cadets, in order that the number of those who would eventually become lieutenants should be reduced, he was following out strictly the policy initiated by his right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract 11 years ago. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the great difficulty he had in the question of cadetships, he had hoped that he would have gone on to say that he proposed to re-introduce the system of limited competition. That system had been established by the right hon. Member for Pontefract, but, unfortunately, had since been done away with. He believed that, by the re-introduction of that system, the difficulties attending the question of supplying cadets would subside, as there were always a large number of people who were anxious to obtain those appointments for their children. He felt sure, also, that the class of boys entering the Navy would also improve if that were done. The principal interest, however, in the debate on the Estimates of that night centred in the programme of the work of the Dockyards. In the first place, he wished to express his regret that, in consequence of the change in the arrangement of the programme in detail in the Estimates, it was extremely difficult to follow out that programme from year to year. He had attempted to follow it out by taking ship by ship, in order to discover, if possible, whether the promises given by the right hon. Gentleman last year had been carried out. He was rather surprised to hear that the programme had been carried out; and he hoped that, before Votes 6 and 10 came on for discussion, the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty would lay on the Table a statement showing how that had been done, ship by ship. He thought, if the right hon. Gentleman would be good enough to follow his remarks, he would show that, in respects of iron-clads, at any rate, the programme had not been carried out. In the case of the Inflexible 1,200 tons had been promised, of which only 779 had been completed, leaving a 630 deficiency of nearly 500 tons. In the case of two others he found a deficiency of 666 and 244 tons. It was true that there appeared to be an excessive expenditure of labour upon the Neptune and the Superb. But they would, no doubt, remember that these were not vessels which had been built in the Dockyards; they had been bought under the Vote of Credit, and the money spent on them should be treated as spent on alterations or repairs, and not for building purposes. The labour expended on those ships must have affected the programme. If his conclusions were right, there appeared to be a deficiency in work of from 1,400 to 1,500 tons. He could not go into the whole matter; but, from the details he had given, he thought it evident that the promised programme had not been accurately carried out. He felt bound to say that the arrangement of the Estimates was most unintelligible to those desirous of instituting comparisons between the present and former years. He ventured to point out last year, on the discussion on Votes 6 and 10, that the programme then promised was the smallest that had ever been laid before that House, as compared with previous years, with respect to both unarmoured and armoured vessels. If, therefore, the programme promised had not been accurately carried out, how small must be the amount of work done! He would not draw any comparison between the present and former Administrations, but take the former years of the present Government, when the number of men employed in the Dockyard was placed at its normal strength of 16,000. Let them go back to the year 1875-6. In that year, of 14,000 tons of ships which were built in the Dockyards, 10,000 wore iron-clad. In the building, of the following year, of 13,457 tons of vessels, 7,920 tons were ironclad. In 1878, 12,022 tons of vessels were built, 5,940 being iron-clad. In 1879, 10,429 tons were built, of which 5,000 were iron-clad; and in the past year, 1879–80, 10,572 tons of vessels were built, exclusive of the Neptune and Superb, and inclusive only of 5,300 tons of armour plate. These figures showed a continual reduction in the work in iron-clads, and he thought that was a matter for serious consideration. The promised programmes did not appear to have been fulfilled. The amount of 631 work was not, he thought, sufficient for the maintenance of our iron-clad Fleet. He had taken the figures from the documents laid upon the Table recently, in consequence of a Motion made by himself. He was afraid, however, the statistics were not accurate; they were, no doubt, drawn up from the Books of the Admiralty, which were not, he supposed, always reliable. For a range of years, he preferred to take a Return which his hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke had obtained, showing the amount in the last six years of the tonnage of vessels. Testing the Return of the Admiralty by that of his hon. Friend, he obtained the following results:—For the last six years, the amount of iron-clads built, excepting vessels built under the Vote of Credit, was 43,221 tons, which gave an average of 7,200 per year. That amount, he felt certain, was not sufficient for the maintenance of our iron-clad Fleet. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty stated, in his speech, that the actual work effected during the past year, if converted from tons' weight into tons' measurement, would amount to that stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract as the proper amount which should be built annually. He failed to understand that. That right hon. Gentleman had pointed out, in 1869, that the amount of shipbuilding per annum, in order to maintain the Fleet, should be not less than 20,000 tons, of which 12,000 should be iron-clad, and that amount was exactly maintained during the five years of the last Administration, whereas, under the present one, we had, instead of 12,000, only 7,200. Adding to this the tonnage of 4 iron-clads bought under the Vote of Credit, which amounted to 18,000 tons, there would be an average of 10,000 tons for each of the six years. Even then, it did not amount to that which was considered necessary by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract. The calculation, which had led him to those results, was based in part on a consideration of the number of vessels which became obsolete and useless for service, and in part on the amount of tonnage annually built by France and other Naval Powers. He believed that France built one and one-third iron-clads in each year. That represented a tonnage of between 6,000 and 7,000. He was 632 confident that, for the maintenance of our iron-clad Fleet, the Admiralty must build considerably more than they had done in the past few years. For his own part, he concurred entirely with his right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) that the normal amount of our annual iron-clad shipbuilding should be 12,000 tons. He reminded hon. Members that during the last six years an annual average of only 7,200 tons had been built. It was quite clear that if the programme for the past and coming year was to be considered as representing the normal state of ship-building in the Dockyards and by contract it was not sufficient for maintaining our Navy of iron-clads in the state in which it ought to be. It was one of the points dilated upon by the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Reed) that the building of vessels of the Inflexible type occupied too long, and that the Inflexible herself had been no less than seven years on the stocks. Her completion was promised during the coming year, and that would make a period of no less than eight years from the time of her birth to the time when she was launched. That was a very long period over which to extend the building of a vessel. It had formerly been the boast of the Admiralty that, having taken in hand the building of an iron-clad, she was turned out with the greatest possible speed; and, as a general rule, the vessels built in this country were completed in about half the time that vessels of the same class were completed in France. He believed that it would be well to follow the wise course hitherto pursued—namely, that of laying down a smaller number of vessels, and hastening on those which were in course of construction, turning them out as rapidly as possible. Now, the Inflexible had been no less than eight years in course of construction, the Ajax and Agamemnon had been already four years on the stocks, and were only half completed, while the Majestic and Colossus had, he believed, been commenced last year. He found that in the programme for the year, for which the money was then being taken, although it was proposed to finish the Inflexible, yet, in the case of the Ajax, it was proposed only to advance her by one-eighth, and in the case of the Colossus by one-sixth. That was not satisfactory; and he 633 quite agreed with the hon. Member for Pembroke that, instead of laying down new vessels, we should complete those already in hand. It seemed to be something like a farce to lay down a new type of vessels when we had already eight or nine on the stocks, which were being completed at such a slow rate. In his opinion, it would be far better to hasten on the work of vessels like the Ajax, Agamemnon, and Colossus, rather than lay down new ones. He had to make a further remark upon the appearance of an old friend in the programme of the Government—namely, the Independence, now called the Neptune. He had stated before to the House that the Independencia was a vessel bought under the Vote of Credit for £614,000, including her armament, which was estimated at£40,000. She had since her purchase up to the present time been two years in the Dockyard, and the sum of no less than £35,000 had been expended upon her during that time in labour alone, and the House might take it that an amount equal to half that amount, at least, had been spent in the shape of materials, so that about £80,000 had been expended upon the changes which she had undergone during the last two years. The result of this was that the vessel had proved to be one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive, in the Service. He doubted whether there was any other vessel which had cost the country two-thirds of the amount expended in her purchase; and from what he heard she was not of so satisfactory a type as might be desired, for it appeared that in some respects she had great defects which could not justify the enormous sum which had been expended upon her. Consequently, they had a vessel by no means a perfect one, which had cost more money than any other ship in the Navy. He could not but think that, inasmuch as this vessel on being taken by the Admiralty had been proved unfit for maritime service, and had required alterations in the Dockyard during a period of two years, it would have been better to have forwarded the completion of vessels like the Ajax and Agamemnon. It appeared to him that sufficient consideration had not been given to the extreme importance of advancing the completion of vessels in hand, and of bringing them 634 to a point at which they could be tried. This was the case with the Inflexible, which it was desirable should be tried at sea as soon as possible, so that the experience gained thereby might be applied to vessels of another type. Again, there were vessels like the Majestic which were of a somewhat different type, but which were proceeding upon the same plan as the Inflexible. He could not but regret the delay which had taken place in completing the latter vessel, and which was also occurring in the case of the Ajax and Agamemnon. So far as the Ajax was concerned, it was almost monstrous, after the number of years she had been on the stocks, that only one-eighth of the vessel was intended to be advanced during the year. For his own part, he did not wish to advise the Government to enter into any greatly increased expenditure; but his belief was that the vessels referred to might be advanced with advantage to the Service and to the country generally, while, at the same time, the expense should be saved in other directions. He had already stated his belief that it would be wise on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to hasten on the building of those iron-clads, and to spend a larger amount of money in future upon them, than upon vessels of a different description. He also pointed out that, in his opinion, it would be better to complete those vessels, rather than to repair some of the obsolete ships. The right hon. and gallant Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay) had stated that vessels of the class of the Minotaur and Agincourt were very low down in the rank of iron-clads. He believed the right hon. and gallant Member had stated that they were almost useless.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he wished to explain that he had said that the Minotaur, Warrior, Black Prince, and Achilles were covered with such thin armour that they could not resist the iron-clads of the present day, but that they were valuable for ordinary services as cruisers if they were fitted with compound engines.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he had understood that the vessels referred to were of some value for cruising purposes, but not as iron-clads. By the Return recently laid upon the Table of the House relating to the cost of fitting a vessel of the class of the Minotaur and Agincourt with new boilers, it appeared that this operation would 635 cost £97,000, a sum which, in his opinion, would be much better spent in completing the Ajax. He desired to say that possibly there was no more important work before the Admiralty than that of hastening on the iron-clads already in hand, and that it was desirable, looking to the progress of Prance and other countries, that a larger amount of money should be voted for that purpose than had been expended during the last three or four years. He thought that an average return of 7,000 tons of iron-clads was not sufficient for maintaining the Navy of the country. He hoped that, in the interval between this and the next Parliament, the right hon. Gentleman would bear that in mind. He believed he would see that there existed a certain general dissatisfaction on account of the non-advancement of our iron-clads, and he would surely have to consider whether that work could not be expedited, and, by doing this, he was sure that he would greatly add to the strength of the Navy.
§ MR. SAMPSON LLOYD
said, he should be very sorry if the Naval Estimates were to show signs of going into any extravagance of expenditure; but, on the other hand, there were some items relating to the Dockyards which he regretted to see had not been fully provided for. He would speak first of the Royal Marines. During some years he had had the honour in that House of drawing attention to the injustice with which officers in the Dockyards had been treated; and he was glad to observe that some considerable improvement had now been made in the prospects of promotion for the officers of the Royal Marines. Still, as regarded the private soldiers and non-commissioned officers in that branch, a very great inequality was felt to exist in respect of the rate of pay of those men as compared with the corresponding ranks in the Army. It had been frequently said that the Navy could not be fairly compared with the Army in this respect; but that argument he thought was one that could not hold water. If hon. Members looked at the pay of the soldiers and non-commissioned officers in the Army, and multiplied it by the requisite number of days to make up the amount received by each rank respectively per annum, it would be found that the sergeant-majors in the Line received 636 £40, the sergeant-inspector £28, and the colour-sergeant about £10 more than the corresponding ranks in the Navy. He would not trouble the House by making any farther comparison of the Navy with the Line, but would simply remark that the inequality which he had shown applied to all ranks. He would be glad to see some provision made in the Estimates of this year for doing justice to the claims of that efficient body of men; and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty would see that it was a subject which required some consideration. Allusion had been made to the old navigating officers of the Fleet, of whom there were several left, and many of them felt that they were exposed to a great hardship in having young officers put over their heads. There was a feeling among them that the executive officers were looked upon as gentlemen, while the navigating officers were put down in a class which was rather inferior. In his opinion, there ought to be none of those distinctions kept up between the different classes of officers; and, moreover, it was not always true that such a distinction existed, because many of the executive officers in the Service had sprung from the same class as navigating officers. Therefore, that reason was a very shallow one for maintaining that humiliating difference in the case of the navigating and executive officers, and it was a distinction which should be at once done away with. If the First Lord felt any difficulty in doing justice to those navigating officers in the manner indicated, he suggested that some small retiring pension should be given to the soldiers and non-commissioned officers of the Navy. Again, he had to call the attention of the Committee to the complaint of another class of men in the Dockyards. He believed it was too much the case that nearly everybody in the Queen's Service was more or less dissatisfied with his position; but there were some instances in the Dockyards where reason existed for that dissatisfaction. The Committee which sat in 1859 had recommended that the leading men, as a matter of proper discipline, should be placed above the others in order to preserve the respect due to their position as officers, and they were recommended to be paid 7s. 6d. a-day in ordinary hours, with a maximum rate of 637 8s. 6d. a-day; but the recommendation of that Committee had never been acted upon at all. Many of those men to whom he had referred had to perform the most difficult duties, such as passing under the bottoms of vessels, and remaining there to perform certain work in which they very frequently received serious injuries. That was an additional reason why the recommendations made many years ago should have been carried out. Then there was the ease of the Admiralty writers. If the First Lord did not see his way to promote these persons to the position of clerks they should, at any rate, give them the maximum rate of pay to which they were entitled. They were a good body of men, and were quite equal to the clerks as a whole, and all that they wanted was an increase of the maximum rate of wages; but they often saw men who were many years their juniors promoted over their heads. He considered it to be a matter of policy to consider these matters, and endeavour to do justice to those persons. He should only refer to two more cases, one of which was the foremen of the Yards, whose duties were of a very important character, and included the responsible occupation of getting out the specifications of ships; but it was a fact that they represented the only class in the Service who had not received an increase of pay for half a century. The last class he should refer to was that of the continuous service men, who had served in the Navy, and who, he believed, had entered the Service of the Dockyard on the promise made to them, or, at least, upon the expectations held out to them by responsible officers, that the time during which they had served at sea would count with their services in the Dockyard in entitling them to a pension. It did not seem to him right that men who had entered the Service with that understanding should lose their pensions merely because they had been to sea. He could not help thinking that a few pounds spent in remedying some of the alleged grievances which he had attempted to deal with would be well applied; while, as to the fear of the people of this country objecting to the expense, he believed that to be an entirely mistaken opinion. He was perfectly well aware that the country had a great objection to extravagance and waste; but he also believed that it was desirous that its public servants 638 should be fully and justly paid, and he pointed out that there were many directions in which money might be more wisely and efficiently saved than by denying the men who served in the Army and Navy their just rights.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he had no intention of detaining the Committee for any length of time, nor did he intend to enter into the great battle of the ships and guns. Ho only wished to make a few remarks with reference to the Royal Marines. He could not but feel that they were in a very helpless and friendless condition, inasmuch as while the Army and Navy were both represented the Royal Marines had no Representatives in that House; and, with the exception of the hon. and gallant Member for Gravesend (Captain Pim), who had stood up for them, he did not know of anyone else who had ever attempted to befriend them. So utterly friendless were they, that the First Lord of the Admiralty could not even give an answer, when he was asked a question concerning them, that was either over civil or over accurate. Some of the answers of the right hon. Gentleman had been, to his mind, almost evasive. A short time ago he had asked him a question with regard to the Departmental Committee then sitting to consider the question of the Royal Marines, and the question which he had put suggested that the Marine Office was too largely represented upon that Committee. The right hon. Gentleman's reply to that was that the Committee consisted of eight Members, and that only two of them were connected with the Marine Office. His question had been altered by the clerks, or he believed that it would have been impossible to give an answer that should be so inaccurate. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, said—"There were only two Members of the Committee out of eight from the Marine Office;" and he gave the whole of the names of the Committee which he (Mr. Anderson) was, of course, acquainted with already. The suggestion was that the Marine Office was tainted with officialism and favouritism; the officers had no confidence in it, because they felt that any Departmental Committee in which that Office was almost exclusively represented would not be considered a just one by the majority of Marine officers. There were on the Committee 639 General Adair, and Colonel Festing, both in the Marine Office, as well as Major Blake, who was Secretary to the Committee, whose name the right hon. Gentleman had omitted in his first statement. Those gentlemen were directly connected with the Marine Office; but there was another officer who was in the Marine Office a few years ago, General Williams, who was regarded as the worst of them all; and again there was General Pim, who had never been in the Marine Office, but who had been twice promoted out of his turn; a fact which, no doubt, predisposed him very unfairly towards Marine Office views. He had shown that upon the Committee there were five Members out of nine, all more or less tainted with Marine Office views. The right hon. Gentleman had maintained that he had answered his question both in letter and spirit; but he replied to that, that it was barely accurate both with regard to the letter, and utterly inaccurate with regard to its spirit. Again, there had been another question and another answer as to the promotion of a General out of his turn. He had asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it was not a fact that certain promotions had taken place, and whether one officer who had been passed over had not been referred to the Regulations, which, when he had asked for, he could not obtain? The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Regulations were in the Orders in Council, which could be found in the Library. It was perfectly useless to refer him to three or four large volumes of the Orders in Council, because it would be hopeless for him to search through them to find the one in question. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman specify the particular Order in Council? A colonel was promoted to a general over the head of another who had two-and-a-half years' Army seniority, and he contended that that was an absolutely illegal act, and he charged the right hon. Gentleman with having permitted it to be done. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman to specify the Order in Council which justified the passing over of that officer. In making these observations, he was not speaking on behalf of any friend, as neither of the two officers in question were even known to him. He was acting on no personal ground, but solely because this great and capital Service was being 640 ruined through two things—one was slow promotion, and the other was favouritism. There was very little promotion in the corps owing to its being small; but when steps in the higher ranks did go they went entirely by favouritism. There were no end of grievances connected with the corps, and there ought to be an independent Commission to inquire into them. He demanded that an independent Commission should be appointed to examine and take evidence in public, and hear the views of the Marine officers themselves. The right hon. Gentleman had informed them that the Medical Service of the Navy was to have an independent Commission to inquire into its grievances; and he would ask why should that be refused to the Marines which was granted to the Medical Service? The Marine officers were as much entitled to a full inquiry as the medical officers, and in asking for that he did not think they were asking for anything unreasonable. They complained of a great number of grievances. As compared with the Army officers, they were not fairly or equally treated, and yet it had always been held that the three Services ought to be treated equally. He would ask if the right hon. Gentleman was aware that in the Army, whenever an officer was away from his regiment for three months, he was made supernumerary and was seconded? But why did he not adopt that rule in the Royal Marines? There were at least two officers away from their regiments at the present time; one had not done duty for nine or ten years, and another for some three years. In the Army those officers would have been made supernumerary in three months and would have been seconded. The same promotion ought to be granted to the Marines as was granted to the Army, and which it had been the practice until recently to grant to the Marines also. For 100 years, from 1755 to 1854, promotion in the Marine Service went absolutely by seniority. In 1854 it was directed by an Order in Council that promotion should go by selection and not by seniority; but so unfair was that felt that the Order was never acted upon for about 25 years. It was only in 1878 that the power was first exercised by the right hon. Gentleman the present First Lord of the Admiralty. How was that process carried out? It was done 641 by pure selection, and he should like to know how the right hon. Gentleman could justify it as the same course as that which was taken in the Army. That assertion he ventured entirely to dispute. Evidence was given before a Commission by the Duke of Cambridge; and he remembered that Lord Cardwell, when in that House, had described His Royal Highness's evidence as representing the system in the Army as seniority tempered by rejection. The right was retained to reject those who were incompetent; but that was not the system which prevailed in the Royal Marines. In the system adopted in the case of the Royal Marines, it was selection distempered by favouritism. An officer was passed over one day and promoted another day to a command, showing that he could not have been incompetent at the time he was passed over. He would like to know whether any officers who joined the corps previous to 1855 had been passed over by that system of selection? because, if so, clearly the terms upon which they joined the Service had been violated and injustice had been done to them. If that were so, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would inquire into the cases of the officers who had been so passed over, and would give them some substantial compensation. Formerly, field officers' good-service pensions had been considered only tenable by officers on the Active List; but in two recent cases they had been allowed to be carried into retirement, thereby limiting the number of rewards for the services of the officers on active service. As he had already said, one of the evils of the corps was the slowness of promotion. That was partly owing to the retirement scheme adopted some time ago. That scheme did not work well and fairly, for there was no retirement from the higher ranks. The captains—men in the prime of life—were those who were retired. A man of 42 was still capable of rendering very good service; but, as the scheme worked, men of 50 and 60 in the higher ranks seemed not compelled to retire compulsorily at all. In the Army it was generally considered that the time of service for a captain was 11 years, and for a major 20 years; but in the Royal Marines there were three captains of 24 years' service—double the time that they ought to have been in that rank. There 642 were no end of lieutenants who would have completed 16 or 17 years' service before they got their promotion. In speaking of the matter of promotion, it was fair that he should say that his remarks applied only to the Royal Marine Light Infantry, and not to the Royal Marine Artillery, which was in every respect on a better footing. He would give the right hon. Gentleman a few details as to what was in prospect as regarded promotion for the present officers in the Marines. In 1880 there would, be no compulsory retirement of generals, colonels, lieutenant colonels, or majors. Nobody would be retired under the scheme above the rank of captain, but six captains would be retired, by which so many steps would be given to lieutenants; but even then there would remain a senior lieutenant of 15 years' service. In 1881 no generals would be retired, but one command of a division would lapse; there would be no steps among generals, lieutenant colonels, or majors; and no steps, therefore, would be vacant by retirement above the rank of captain. Three captains would be retired, which would give so many steps to lieutenants. There would be then six lieutenants remaining of 16 years' service without promotion. In the year 1882 there would be no general retired, but three commands of divisions would lapse, and one major would retire; six captains, however, must quit the Service, and even then the senior lieutenant would have 16 years' service. In 1883 no general, colonel, or any officer above the rank of major would be retired; but three majors and 10 captains would be compulsorily retired, and there would remain even then 10 lieutenants of 16 years' service. In that way, there would be 25 captains driven out of the Service at the early age of 42 in so short a space of time as three years. He thought he had shown by these figures that the officers of the Marines had really substantial grievances to complain of in the matter of promotion and in the matter of the retirement scheme, which was certainly not working fairly and equitably for all ranks. In conclusion, he called upon the right hon. Gentleman to give the same justice to the Marines, who had no one to state their views in that House, as had been done to the other Services.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the 643 Admiralty had been blamed for having followed too closely in the steps of his Predecessors, by sanctioning unwise reductions. His object in rising was to refer to what had been stated on the subject of cruising ships. It had been said, in the first place, that cruising ships ought to be able to compete with the ships of other nations. But that was not all they wanted. They wanted a great deal more than that. The cruising ships of other nations were for the purpose of cruising only; but the cruising vessels of this country were required also for the purpose of protecting the Colonies. An attacking ship could judge its own time; but a ship for the purpose of defence required to be able to meet the foe at all times and under all circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman had proposed to lay down some new ships. He agreed with the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) in the opinion that the amount of iron-clads which it was proposed to build was insufficient for the service of the country, although he was somewhat surprised to hear that view advocated by a Member of the Government which was remarkable for the parsimony of its Naval Estimates. He had heard with very much regret from the right hon. Gentleman a proposal to fit these vessels with twin screws. He thought that no greater mistake could be made than to furnish those vessels with twin screws. A ship with a single screw might be a cruising ship; but a vessel with a twin screw was incapacitated from sailing. He had, therefore, heard with very great regret that it was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to construct cruising vessels with twin screws, and thus make it almost impossible for them to be properly navigated. He should contend that such ships would be almost useless. These vessels generally remained at sea for a great length of time, and there certainly would be no economy in having vessels with twin screws which made them unable to sail.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, that they had been desirous that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty should be able to take Votes for so much as was necessary for the conduct of the Naval Service during the Recess. He did not wish at that moment to stand long between the right hon. Gentleman and the defence which he would, on this 644 occasion, have to make, against his own supporters. On that side of the House they had been very reticent, and had been satisfied to allow the right hon. Gentleman's own supporters to attack him. He confessed that he had a considerable fellow-feeling with the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty; he had a great deal of sympathy for him. Notwithstanding the £5,000,000, £6,000,000, or £7,000,000 of extra money that he had been spending on the navy during the past five or six years, he was bitterly attacked by his own supporters for not having done enough. Some hon. Members on the Government side of the House had even made two speeches against him. Anyone who had been in the habit of sitting through the naval debates must be aware that the speeches were exactly the same as were made while the late Administration was in Office. They had had a speech from the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), and that they had heard before. They had also heard the right hon. Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay), who used always to make the same kind of speech, perhaps a little less complimentary, when the late Administration was in Office. The hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone) had been replaced by the hon. and gallant Member for Gravesend (Capiain Pim), as a critic of the proceedings of the First Lord. The noble Lord the Member for Chichester (Lord Henry Lennox) had been replaced by the hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Captain Price). With those differences, the speeches were precisely the same as those they had formerly been accustomed to hear. The Navy was still, it was said, unable to cope with the Navies of other countries, and the ships were still not the right sort of vessels. Those were criticisms to which they were well accustomed. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord must painfully feel that, notwithstanding his exertions, and notwithstanding that a single penny he had asked for from that House during the last six years had not been denied him, he could not give satisfaction. But another criticism had been made to the effect that he was not building sufficient ships. No doubt there was some force in that criticism. There were two policies which might be adopted—one was repairing the Fleet, and the other was 645 building fresh ships. The righthon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had set his mind to repairing as many ships as possible, and he certainly had accomplished considerable results in that respect. But, unfortunately, the result also was that he had been criticized for not having built sufficient ships; and as his hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke had stated, during the six years that the Government had been in Office, they had not turned out a single iron-clad of their own design from the Dockyard; those built by contract, or purchased out of the Vote of Credit, of course, being a different matter. He made no charge against the right hon. Gentleman; but he stated what were the simple facts. The late Government pursued a different policy, for they concentrated a great deal of their attention upon shipbuilding, and the result was they were abused for not having repaired sufficiently. The fact was that they adopted a different plan to the present Government. No better illustration could be found than the case of the Minotaur, which cost about £100,000. If they had had to deal with that they would, instead of having spent £100,000 upon the boilers of the Minotaur, have advanced the Ajax, and the result would have been on paper that they would have had one ship less to show. It was in that way that the results of the late Administration showed unfavourably. They looked to building ships, and the result was that that great Fleet which was in the Mediterranean, and near Constantinople during the late troubles, was built and put into line by the exertions of the late Government. But, while building, they did not, at the same time, concentrate their attention also on the repairs of ships. In reply to what had fallen from the hon. Member for West Norfolk, he would point out, although the question had not been raised from their side, that the late Administration, during five years, built 63,000 tons of iron-clads; whereas the present Government in six years had built only 50,000. Therefore, he felt he was justified in speaking of the attention that the late Administration had paid to shipbuilding. The main point seemed to him to be this—and he would wish to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to it—namely, that there had been a very unanimous feeling in the House that the progress of iron-clad ships was inade- 646 quate to the occasion. He hoped his right hon. Friend would re-consider his proposal, and, by means of economy in other matters, increase the amount of work to be done upon those ships. By so doing, he would be acting in accordance with the feeling of his own supporters as well as of hon. Members who sat upon that side of the House. No stronger case could be put than that of the Ajax, of which only one-eighth would be advanced. Could the right hon. Gentleman give any reason why only one-eighth of that vessel was to be advanced? That was the question that he wished to put to him. He did not wish to divert his attention from the answer that he would give to his own supporters with regard to Sir Spencer Robinson. The hon. and gallant Member for Devon-port had said that it was very important for hon. Members, in going to their constituents, to be able to state that the Fleet was not in the condition depicted by Sir Spencer Robinson. He believed that a great many hon. Members would wish to have an answer to that question, not only for electioneering purposes, but also in a national point of view. They would wish to know whether it was the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers that the Fleet was not able to cope with any force that was likely to be brought against it, or whether too much alarm had been raised? The skill of Sir Spencer Robinson was universally acknowledged; and it would be satisfactory to hon. Members upon that side of the House, as well as to the right hon. Gentleman's own supporters, that he should give them some further assurance than they now possessed of the incorrectness of Sir Spencer Robinson. He was bound to say that there was no great confidence expressed in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He said that if not in ships, yet certainly in men, this country would be equal to other nations. It seemed to him that by drawing a distinction between ships and men the right hon. Gentleman must have had an uneasy feeling in his own mind. Under those circumstances, he thought it would be doing good service to the country if the right hon. Gentleman could announce that he intended to make greater progress with the ships which were being constructed.
§ CAPTAIN PIM
said, he believed he had made himself very clear as to the 647 cause of the falling-off of discipline in Her Majesty's Navy, which he had attributed to the short-service system then prevailing. Perhaps, however, he had not read the Return clearly to the House; and he would, therefore, now just quote the figures bearing upon the question of summary punishment. He maintained that it was utterly impossible for any Service to be in a proper state of discipline which had, during one year alone, summary punishments to the number of 26,067 at home and 34,911 abroad, as appeared by the Be-turn. The total of summary punishments in the Royal Navy, during one year alone, had, therefore, amounted to no less than 60,978. If that did not clearly show that the discipline of the Navy was in a bad state, he did not know what would show it. There was another point in connection with the merchant vessels, which, it had been suggested, might be made use of in time of war, to which he wished to call the attention of his right hon. Friend. The First Lord had told the Committee that he placed the very greatest confidence in the merchant ships he proposed to make use of in case of necessity, and that he had in view 10, 20, or 30 ready to his hand at a moment's notice. Nobody could expect that his right hon. Friend would know anything about ships; had he possessed that knowledge, he would have seen that the merchant ships on which he relied were utterly unfitted for the purpose required; they had a length equal to 10 times their beam, and if anybody would tell him that such vessels could bear guns upon their upper decks—why, if that were true, he knew nothing whatever about a ship. He held in his hands a newspaper folded up to one column—that was, only nine times the breadth for length, and, therefore, was no exaggeration of the present shape of our merchant steamers. Would any hon. Member tell him that such a shape could either support the weight or sustain the strain of firing broadside guns? He wanted his right hon. Friend, before he launched into that experiment, to take one of our Mercantile Marine steamers, and put her, when flying light, into dock, and run out only one gun on either side. He did not hesitate to say that, upon those conditions, the ship would capsize at once—that was to say, only one gun 648 being run out. ["Oh!"] Hon. Members might cry "Oh!" but it was a very easy matter for his right hon. Friend to make that experiment. Let him apply to a firm of shipowners to place one of their vessels in dock, and let him run out one gun in the manner suggested, and he believed that it would be found that the vessel would capsize; and, moreover, if anyone was rash enough to fire that gun all the rivets in the wake of the gun would be started, and the ship would founder. He thought that before any expenditure was gone into for converting merchant ships for warlike purposes this extremely easy experiment should be tried. He asked, was there any hon. Member who would not prefer to be in a gunboat in a gale of wind rather than in a merchant steamer thus fitted? And, moreover, this latter class of vessels could not be handled at all under sail. Take the case of the Australia, which vessel had broken her screw-shaft, and had altogether broken down the other day, lying helpless in the trough of the sea. Nothing could be more unsafe than to rely upon vessels of that class except as beasts of burden. It seemed to him a species of madness to rely in the remotest degree upon such vessels, when really useful seagoing gunboats could be built and maintained for one-fifth of the cost of merchant steamers. He had thought it his duty to point out the difficulty which existed in converting and making use of merchant steamers at enormous cost, be it remembered, for the purposes of war, because the right hon. Gentleman had laid very great stress upon their adoption. In his opinion, the idea of making use of these vessels was a complete fallacy; and he advised the right hon. Gentleman to have nothing to do with them; at all events, if he was ever persuaded in that direction, a dire responsibility would rest upon his shoulders, for which he would surely be called to account.
§ MR. R. W. DUFF
said, he did not agree entirely with the hon. and gallant Member who had just sat down that there were no vessels in our Mercantile Marine Service that could be adapted to the purposes of warfare. He was surprised that in the course of the discussion no reference had been made that evening to an event which outside the House had attracted a great deal of attention in the Naval Service. He referred to the ac- 649 tion in which the Huascar had been engaged. He presumed that the right hon. Gentleman had in his possession the principal facts connected with that action, and that he would see that they possessed a very strong interest at that moment. A complaint had come from both sides of the House because sufficient progress had not been made with the large iron-clad ships. He had no doubt that that progress was very slow in proportion to what they had been led to expect. But, for his own part, he did not complain of the Government not building those large vessels. His opinion was that they should build smaller vessels of greater power, because he considered that that was a type in which the Navy were most deficient. They had heard also of an experiment for stopping holes in the iron plates of ships; but he desired to remind the right hon. Gentleman that the holes knocked in the sides of the Huascar were big enough for him to walk through. Ho held that they should not rely on any such schemes for repairing damage when they had had the actual experience that iron-clads could be destroyed by ramming. He hoped that the First Lord of the Admiralty would not allow that lesson to be thrown away, and that he would give more attention to the construction of small but swift vessels than to the building of large ships. He did not believe that there were two corvettes in the Service that could steam 14 knots. When the hon. and gallant Member for Gravesend (Captain Pim) spoke about the Mercantile Marine, and said it was of no use to the Navy, ho had thought, and begged to remind him, that some of those vessels would make uncommonly good Alabamas. He differed from the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Reed) in his opinion that in case of war a great many naval officers would be required to assist in the command of these vessels. We should, however, require the assistance of some professional men, and would have to frame our Estimates accordingly. He should be happy to support the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson), who would, no doubt, propose an addition to the Estimates of the Navy for the purpose of retiring some of the officers of the Royal Marines.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I assure the Committee that the speech I have made in introducing the Navy Estimates is by no means an electioneering speech; but it 650 is a remarkable coincidence that it should be made just after the announcement of an immediate appeal to the constituencies; while the speech of the hon. Member for Pembroke is an able statement of the supposed demerits of the present Administration. But, ingenious and able as it is, I cannot help remarking upon the omission of the fact that it was owing to the strong opposition and criticism which have appeared in the public papers that rendered it necessary that a Committee should be appointed, and owing to the deference paid to the hon. Gentleman's professional knowledge that so long a delay has been incurred in the case of the Inflexible, the Ajax, and the Agamemnon. In point of fact, I am obliged to hold the hon. Gentleman largely responsible for the circumstance that those vessels are not now much nearer completion, and I cannot help remarking that the Admiralty are greatly indebted to him for the position in which they find themselves. It is a curious fact that the hon. Member confined his observations to the Dockyards, and did not say anything of the Northampton and Nelson built by contract, nor of the four other ships bought out of the Vote of Credit and added to the Navy. I am prepared to admit that if Parliament had found more money a larger amount of tonnage might have been built. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) is perfectly just in his observation that those who devote themselves to the building of ships accomplished a greater amount of work than those who devoted themselves to keeping the Fleet in repair. I confess that it has been the view of the Admiralty that ships that were likely to prove efficient should be maintained in a state of repair; and we have spent a large sum of money for that purpose, the consequence being that we have now in harbour ships capable of affording relief which were not before forthcoming. I do not charge my Predecessors in Office with any error in judgment; but, in 1874, I am obliged to point out there were not in harbour, as there are at this moment, ships capable of taking their place in line of battle. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London has referred to the case of the Minotaur. I am under the impression that the Minotaur was, however, in the programme handed over to us by our Predecessors, and that is 651 certainly the case as regards the Achilles. The question we have to answer is—Have we built a sufficient number of iron-clads? I think we have. But I am by no means unwilling that a larger number of iron-clads should be built for cruising purposes, and the fact that the Fleet is in an efficient state of repair will enable us, in the future, to spend a larger amount in building; but it is our clear duty to put ships that are capable of taking part in the first line of battle in repair before we expend large sums in building. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman who spoke very recently (Mr. Goschen) referred to the proportion of tons of iron-clads built before we came into Office. In 1873–4, I find that the iron-clads actually built in that year represented 7,500 tons—["No, no!"]—I insist upon it that my right hon. Friend the late First Lord of the Admiralty found the Navy in difficulty, and that he spent money in repairs which amounted, in the first year, within a few thousands of the sum spent last year, while he was able to build only 5,000 tons of ironclads during that year. We have built during the past year 7,000 tons of ironclads. The fact is, no rule can be laid down. You must proceed upon the necessities of the case and according to your sense of what is most imperative. That is the principle on which we have acted. When the Government came into Office they found a Fleet requiring repair, and they have given it repair. Referring to the observations that have been made in reference to the additions to the Navy under the Vote of Credit, I stated, at the time that that Vote was taken, that—The addition of 18,000 tons of iron-clads would place me in a position to restrict the building of iron-clads, and that, consequently, I felt if I spent £1,500,000 for the purpose of building iron ships at that time that some reduction ought to be made in the number of vessels built during coming years.And that I considered to be taking up a very reasonable position. The hon. Member for Beading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) has referred to "the programme so far as it has been carried out;" but I trust he has since found, by the Paper placed in his hands, that the programme has been substantially fulfilled. Again, the hon. Member refers to the case of the Neptune. I take issue with the hon. Gentleman on this question, and I think that the money spent upon that vessel 652 was a wise outlay, and that it was a right purchase to make. Reference has been made to an article which has appeared in one of the periodicals, written by a person of great authority. I do not think it would be fitting that I should in this House attempt to make a comparison between the Navies of France and England. It would be obviously most undesirable and improper that I should make any such comparison. What we have to consider is, whether the strength of the Fleets of England is sufficient for the duties which they may be called upon to discharge? A Minister would incur a very great responsibility if he shut his eyes to any inefficiency in the Fleet. I believe that the Fleets of England are sufficient for the duties which they are called upon to discharge. I believe it to be my duty, however, to watch the progress of shipbuilding in other countries, and to take care that our progress keeps pace with theirs; and I further believe that we are capable of meeting, at the present moment, any probable combinations of Powers at sea in any part of the world, while I am perfectly confident of the result. Looking at the increase of strength and speed of our cruisers which will be secured by the course we now propose to take, it will be seen that we shall have a number of perfected vessels which do not exist in any other country, and which can come into action with anything but iron-clads with considerable confidence as to the result. It has been remarked that our ships in course of building existed only on paper. Now, it is a serious question whether the list of vessels in Her Majesty's Service, placed in The Navy List, is a reality or not. I remember a remark which fell from my Predecessor which was applicable to this subject. He said "that the ships incapable of going into action were really nothing more than paper ships." But I never heard that the term "paper ships" has ever been used in connection with ships in course of construction. I now come to the points raised by the hon. Member for Plymouth (Mr. Sampson Lloyd). I will not go through the whole of the questions brought forward by him; but I cannot help expressing my regret that any officer should be obliged to bring a personal matter before the House of Commons. I fully recognize the right of the House of Commons to consider the 653 cases of individuals; but it should, indeed, be a serious grievance that should make it necessary to bring it before the House of Commons. I believe that discipline in the Service would be very seriously endangered if every personal grievance were to be ventilated in this House. I should be sorry to inflict any injustice whatever upon any officer, noncommissioned officer, or any person in Her Majesty's Service; and upon this point I will observe that, in the matters referred to, I have been obliged to exercise my judgment with the full sense of the responsibility attaching to it. I hope, therefore, for the sake of the corps, and for the sake of the Service generally, that the grievances of individuals in the Navy will not be brought before the House. So far as I am informed, I am not aware that the amount of dissatisfaction alluded to really exists; but I am aware that, when the retiring scheme was carried into effect some years ago, it gave considerable satisfaction; and I may point out that, although it is quite true that captains in the Marines are retired at the age of 42, captains in the Army are retired at the age of 40. So that the former have not so much ground for complaint as some hon. Members seem to suppose. In leaving this point, I wish to say that I shall endeavour to discharge my duty with regard to the Royal Marines as before, with a full sense of their great services, and do everything I possibly can to give them satisfaction. I can assure the hon. Member for Banffshire (Mr. R. W. Duff) that the accounts of the action in which the Huascar was engaged are very carefully preserved, and very carefully examined; and that as much instruction and information as possible, which was likely to be of service to the officers in the Navy, has been obtained from that source. One thing which struck us very much with regard to that action was the remarkably bad gunnery of the Huascar. In conclusion, I merely express a hope that, as another opportunity will be afforded to hon. Members for discussing these Estimates, the Committee will now give me the vote on Account.
§ MR. E. J. REED
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had accused him of taking no account of the ships built by contract during the time that the present Government had been in Office. His reason for 654 this, as he had stated, was because the present Administration had been more deficient in producing tonnage by contract than the former. He had a Return before him in which he found that the tonnage of ships built by contract under the previous Administration ran as follows:—6,000, 1,600, 5,200, and 11,200 tons. During the present Administration there had only been two years in which the Admiralty had built 3,000, and one in which they had built 800 tons. He thought, therefore, he was open to no reproach for what he had said upon that subject. Touching the case of the Huascar, he was afraid that a false impression might be produced as to the result of that engagement, and he desired to read an extract from a letter which had been sent to him upon that subject. The letter ran as follows:—I was sent on board in the first boat to report on the condition of the ship, and I will just give you a rough idea of her state. I found that one shell struck centre of stem, carrying it away, breaking short off with transporting chocks, bowsprit bitts, cat and fish davits on starboard side; other shot passed through topgallant forecastle, and has shaken it all to atoms, parting all deck ends from the waterways; two shells passed through fighting turret; one, in passing or after passing, struck end of starboard gun carriage, carrying away flap of trunnion, and burst, killing all hands belonging to that gun; the other passed through near the top, destroying all the transverse beams forming crown of turret, killing the second commander, who was taking a sight at the centre platform to fire both guns. The small, elongated, hexagon conning tower is pierced and blown to pieces. The commander (Gran) was killed inside of this tower by our second shot; nothing of him was found but one leg—the rest is supposed to be blown to pieces, charred, burnt, pulverized, or otherwise, as no other part of his body could be found. The ship had six holes through her hull, which is four inches armour, ten inches backing, and two and a-half inches plates inside; one of these holes is very near water-line, another is close to stern, passing fore and aft, striking-stern post, breaking it off, and the same shot passed through beams, breaking them off, smashed block of preventive tackle and steering gear for the second time, killing about seven or eight men attending the same at one time. Another near the last passed through, tearing away three iron beams into ribbons, carrying away iron block of the first broken steering gear, breaking out fronts of cabins, wood bulkheads, &c. It would take a long time to describe the damage done by every shot; but it requires seeing to believe the destruction done. One 12-pounder gun had the muzzle cut off by a shot. Fish and cat davits are carried away, coamings destroyed, and skylights, decks cut up in all directions. Ventilators, riding bollards for chain forward, perforated, with holes from seven, nine, and 20-pounder guns, mitrail- 655 leuse and rifles, also mainmast and mizen pole for adjusting compass, bulwarks and hammock nettings carried away, also portable iron bulwarks, which fall down for combat, partly shot away and lost, the whole of one side of ports, after bulwarks under poop, blown clean out by shell. To go on to describe the particulars would make a small book. I wish to state here that 'apabalases,' or shot plugs, are out of the question after, or at an armour-clad fight, they are entirely useless; not a hole was either round, square, or oval, but different shapes, ragged, jagged, and torn; the inside parts and half-inch plating being torn in ribbons, some of the holes inside are as large as 4 feet by 3 feet, all shapes; there are many shot plugs of pine on board here, all sizes, conical shape and long; but they are of no use whatever. The scene on board no pen can describe, and it would require seeing to believe. "We had to climb over heaps table high of débris and dead and wounded, fronts and pieces of cabins, beds, bedding, and clothing, bodies, some without heads, others?without arms, legs, &c, &c, too awful to describe. The engines escaped. We fired 45 Palliser shell, and the engineers who were on board say that every shell, or nearly so, must have struck, and that every one that struck burst on board, doing awful destruction. The 'Cochrane' received one shell through upper part or thin plating forward in wake of galley, breaking it all to pieces; another passed through upper works at commander's cabin, breaking fore and aft bulkhead of cabins in a direction of the opposite angle, breaking skylight above ward room, thwart ship bulkhead—wood—passed on, cut in two a 5-inch iron pillar, through the pilot's store room, struck armour plate, glanced off, passed through plating of embrasure closet at corner, finishing at after gun port, and went overboard. This shell passed in at starboard after part of stern, and terminated at after battery port port side, but at the extreme corner of embrasure below the port, which is finished with the wide angle iron, carrying out a part of the angle iron in its flight.
These particulars are as near as I can possibly state, and I feel a great pleasure and am thankful at being spared to be able to give you this; and I shall be very pleased at any time to give you information respecting the iron-clads."
Officers taken prisoners 28 Sailors taken prisoners 144 Among which are wounded (30) Killed 69 Total on board 241
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2.) £680,384, on account, Wages, &c. to Seamen and Marines.
§ (3.) £253,381, on account, Victuals and Clothing for Seamen and Marines.
§ (4.) £44,871, on account, Admiralty Office.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that he did not wish to take any exception to 656 this Vote, or to the general action of the Admiralty in dealing with the Admiralty Office. When he was in Office, at the end of 1868, one of the first things which struck him as requiring alteration was the enormously redundant condition of the Admiralty Office. There were in that Office double or treble the number of clerks and officers that were required. Under those circumstances, he had initiated a very great reduction of officers, with the view of ultimately arriving at a number similar to that which had now been adopted by his right hon. Friend. For this he had been violently attacked by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. Every kind of epithet, from cheeseparing savings to reckless and ruthless destruction, had been applied to his economies. He persevered, however. Not a single clerk had been appointed, not a single vacancy, filled from that time to this; and now another sweeping reduction had been made of nearly half the clerks. He was glad to give his testimony to the benefit of the First Lord's scheme; and to say that, having compared the state of things which existed at the time he took Office with that which had now been brought about by his right hon. Friend the present First Lord of the Admiralty, he could sincerely congratulate him on what he had effected. He himself, and the right hon. Gentleman had succeeded in reducing the number of the Admiralty and Accountant General's clerks from 207 to the modest figure of 97. He would also wish to congratulate him upon the consideration and fairness which he had shown in effecting the various changes. Not only had the expense of the Office been greatly reduced, but its efficiency had been greatly increased. He should like, however, to express his extreme regret at the intelligence that a gentleman who had rendered very great services to the public was about to leave the Admiralty under the final reduction which was contemplated. He alluded to Mr. James Noel, an officer who had been engaged in duties of the most confidential and of the most useful character at the Admiralty for many years. That gentleman had been virtually the permanent chief of the Office of the First Lord of the Admiralty during successive Administrations. He had been in the secrets of every First Lord 657 for the last 15 or 20 years; and now, at a comparatively early age, he was to be retired on a pension, which he (Mr. Childers) did not doubt would be of a just and liberal character; but still he could not help thinking that it would be most unfortunate if, through any technical reason as to the classification of clerks, the services of Mr. James Noel were lost to the public. He would entreat the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether, under some new arrangement, Mr. James Noel could not be retained in the Admiralty Office, and enabled still to discharge those duties by which he had already rendered such benefit to the Public Service?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that he had every desire to meet the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract. It would give very great satisfaction to himself and to his Colleagues if Mr. Noel would consent to stay in the Admiralty; but his retirement had been at his own desire, and he did not know how to refuse to allow a gentleman to retire who asked to leave on the ground of his long service. He should be glad to communicate again with Mr. Noel on the subject; and if he felt disposed to withdraw his application for retirement it would be very favourably received by him.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that he was acting on no communication from Mr. Noel; but the fact of his retirement having come to his knowledge, he had felt himself compelled to urge his retention in the Service if possible.
§ MR. E. J. REED
said, he would like to know whether the House would have another opportunity of criticizing the Admiralty Votes?
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (5.) £48,569, on account, Coast Guard Service and Royal Naval Re-serves, &c.
§ (6.) £28,276, on account, Scientific Branch.
§ (7.) £335,896, on account, Dockyards and Naval Yards at Home and Abroad.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he hoped that the Government would lay upon the Table of the House a more detailed programme, showing the work 658 which had actually been carried out during the past year. The present detailed account was so utterly unintelligible that it was impossible to make comparisons by means of it. He had compared the programme of the present year with that of last year; and, if he was accurate, the programme of last year had not been carried out with regard to shipbuilding, and the promised advances had not been made. Vessels were nothing like so near completion as it was promised last year they should be. No doubt, money had been spent upon them; but the vessels were not so complete as it was promised they should be. For instance, to take the case of the Inflexible, it was stated in the Estimates of last year that 5,983 tons of that vessel had been completed, and 1,293 tons were promised during the ensuing year. But it was now stated that only 6,490 tons of that vessel had been actually finished; so that, instead of 1,293 tons as promised having been added to the vessel, about 500 tons only had been completed during the year. Therefore, he thought he was justified in saying that the programme had not been carried out. The money voted for the work had probably been spent, not on the completion of vessels, but on alterations. He thought it would be well if the Government would lay a detailed statement with regard to these matters upon the Table of the House.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that the information required by the hon. Member should be laid upon the Table of the House. When the figures were laid in detail before the House it would be found, he thought, that the total difference between the amount promised and the actual tonnage completed only amounted to 59 tons. Before the Estimates were considered, they would be able to give a detailed account of the work actually done on iron-clad ships.
An hon. MEMBER
said that his hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had pointed out that the work upon the Inflexible had not been completed to the extent which had been promised, but was extremely backward. He did not see that it was an answer to that observation to show that work making up the amount promised had been done upon other ships.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that the Estimates were prepared on the calcula- 659 tion that a certain sum would complete one ton of a vessel. Accordingly, it was stated that so many tons would be completed, and a certain amount of money was asked for. In the course of construction of vessels it had been found that they were sometimes much more expensive than was originally supposed, and the consequence was that the work done for the money spent fell short of what had been originally estimated. At present, the mode of estimating the work done was, in his opinion, extremely unsatisfactory; and he desired for the future to frame an Estimate showing the original estimated force of vessels, and then the work which was done on them.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, it was contended on that side of the House that, whereas money had been spent for shipbuilding, yet the work had not been done. It was true that there was at present very little mode of ascertaining the amount of work done except by the money spent. He should be very glad if the right hon. Gentleman could devise some other system, by which a more exact comparison could be made between the work actually done and the money spent in doing it.
§ MR. E. J. REED
said, that under the old system they had nothing to do with the money Estimate for ships. The introduction of a ton-weight added nothing whatever to their information; but merely made the departures from the original Estimate more glaring. In the present case, what really happened was that the old system was not less applicable at the end of a ship than at the beginning. The remarkable feature of the present Administration was that the Estimates put forward and sanctioned by the House had never been to any extent completed. It seemed to him that the Government now proposed to introduce a system to make permanent their departures from the Estimates laid before the House. It was now the custom to make the statement that the Estimates laid before the House had not been in any way carried out. The right hon. Gentleman had introduced into his programme two headings for vessels. One was the estimated cost of building the hull given in the programme of 1879–80, and the second the real estimated cost of building the hull. Thus it would be seen that the estimated cost of building the 660 hull varied from year to year. There was another objection to this form; the right hon. Gentleman only proposed to compare the Estimates of last year with those of the present year. They would, therefore, have to hunt back through the Estimates for perhaps, seven years, in order to trace the original proposal for the cost of a particular vessel. He, for one, certainly objected to the system of departing from the Estimates laid before Parliament being made permanent. It would give rise to a licence in the Estimates for ships, and would set aside the whole control of that House over the proposals of the Government.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had not stated why so small a proportion of work was to be done on iron-clad vessels during the ensuing year. What was the reason that the Ajax and the Agamemnon were not to be more advanced?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, they could do nothing more to those vessels at present, on account of alterations to the machinery.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (8.) £17,790, on account, Victualling Yards at Home and Abroad.
§ (9.) £15,861, on account, Medical Establishments at Home and Abroad.
§ (10.) £5,350, on account, Marine Divisions.
asked if the right hon. Gentleman would give some explanation with regard to the reduction in the number of Marines? The number of Marines voted for the year was 13,000, and a Vote on Account of that number of men was taken. In another part of the Estimates it was stated that it was contemplated to reduce the establishment of Marines by 250 men. He should like to know why that reduction was to take place.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that when the Estimates for the present year were being prepared they were 250 men under their strength. Instead of reducing the number to be voted, he thought it better to leave it at 13,000, so that they could work up to that number if they saw fit, but to reduce the money asked for to the sum which experience showed they would require. He might mention that they 661 were able to obtain men very readily for the Marines.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (11.) £252,750, on account, Naval Stores for Building and Repairing the Fleet, &c.
§ (12.) £192,250, on account, Machinery and Ships built by Contract.
§ (13.) £139,737, on account, New Works, Buildings, Yard Machinery, and Repairs.
§ (14.) £18,787, on account, Medicines and Medical Stores, &c.
§ (15.) £2,312, on account, Martial Law, &c.
§ (16.) £33,940, on account, Miscellaneous Services.
§ (17.) £223,789, on account, Half Pay, Reserved Half Pay, and Retired Pay to Officers of the Navy and Marines.
§ (18.) £205,804, on account, Military Pensions and Allowances.
§ (19.) £80,607, on account, Civil Pensions and Allowances.
§ (20.) £42,875, on account, Extra Estimate for Services not Naval—Freight, &c. on account of the Army Department.
§ (21.) £36,548, on account, Greenwich Hospital and. School.