HC Deb 14 July 1881 vol 263 cc842-3

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, If it is correctly stated that the French fleet operating on the coast of Northern Africa consists of ten ironclads, seven of the first rank and three of the second rank; and, if he will state what number of ironclads are now in the Mediterranean under the orders of Sir B. Seymour?


Sir, there have been three French iron-clads on the coast of Northern Africa, which, from the latest advices, we have reason to believe have now been supplemented by the Toulon squadron of six other vessels. This would make nine in all, of which six rank as first-class ships. But there are first-class iron-clads and first-class iron-clads, and the six armoured ships under the command of Sir Beauchamp Seymour form a fleet which, for fighting efficiency, is quite worthy even for England to show in the Mediterranean. I wish this Question had not been asked; but since it has been asked, I must remind the right hon. and gallant Member that the whole commissioned iron-clad fleet of the French, with the exception of one vessel, is in the Mediterranean at this moment, while we have in European waters the four iron-clads of the Channel Squadron and the nine Coastguard ships, of which eight are at present in the Baltic.