HC Deb 26 April 1881 vol 260 cc1182-3

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether it is the fact that at Devonport there is at present some difficulty in manning the ships of the fleet, and that, on an application being made for four ordinary seamen for H.M.S. "Arab," the reply made by signal was "None available, all being either in hospital or in gaol;" and, if this is a correct statement of the case, whether the Admiralty will reconsider their intention of reducing the number of men and boys this year?


I may say, Sir, that the Question asked by the hon. and gallant Member, by the omission of two words, becomes about as far from being the fact as it is possible to be. On the 29th of March a signal was made from the Commander-in-Chief at Mount Wise, "Have you four ordinary seamen, second-class, available for draft?" The reply was, "None available. All being either in hospital or gaol." Now, Sir, second-class ordinaries are lads who are unusually backward physically or morally, who cannot be rated as ordinary seamen, and the fewer we have of them the better for the country. Of ordinary seamen there were 243 on the books of the Royal Adelaide at Devon-port, of whom 141 were available for foreign service. I am sorry that this Question, reflecting as it does upon the Navy, has been allowed to stand for nearly three weeks on the Paper of the House, when a single word to me in private would have obviated the necessity of its being printed.