§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ (1.) 58,100 Men and Boys.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
Sir, in rising to move the Estimates which I have the honour to submit to the Committee, I must ask for indulgence on two grounds—first, because this is, I believe, only the second occasion during 15 years that that duty has been performed by anyone who spoke with less authority than that of the First Lord of the Admiralty; and next, because, owing to my comparatively recent accession to Office, it will fall upon me to explain and defend measures the conception and initiation of which are due to those who have been longer on the Board than myself, including, I must beg the Committee to remember, my right hon. Friend the Chief Commissioner of Works. But while I renounce the credit of the measures, the explanation of which will constitute the main substance of what I have to say, I cannot too emphatically state that there is not one of those measures which I do not heartily approve, and sincerely believe to tend to the interests of the Navy and the advantage of the country. It will be incumbent on me to beg the Committee this evening to devote an unusual share of its attention to Vote 1. It is in matters relating to that Vote, which includes the whole personnel of the Service, from the Admiral of the Fleet to the youngest boy who is entered in our training ships, that the most caution has to be observed by an Administration, and that the keenest interest, and oven anxiety, is felt by those whose position and fortunes are so nearly concerned. Hasty and inconsiderate changes in matters relating to officers and men of such a Navy as ours are extremely distasteful to the Service, and seldom find much favour in Parliament. But the changes which it is now my duty to announce are none of them hasty and inconsiderate; and the first, and, as I cannot but think, that which will ultimately prove to be the most important, can hardly be called a change at all, but a 1371 return to a state of things which endured so long and so successfully that it was fast becoming an institution in the Navy, as it has long been an institution in almost all the other great branches of the Public Service. The present Board, as the Committee already knows from Papers presented to the House, has restored the principle of competition which was introduced into the Navy by the right hon. Member for Pontefract. Up to the year 1869 cadetships were a matter of pure patronage. Every boy, who was nominated by the people in power, entered the Navy if he could contrive to pass a test examination; but my right hon. Friend, by an Admiralty Order of August, 1869, laid it down that for the future twice as many boys as there were vacancies for should be nominated, and that cadetships should be given to the first and successful half of the list. This system continued in force until the year 1875, when it was altered by Mr. Hunt, then First Lord of the Admiralty. Mr. Hunt restored to himself, his colleagues, and all other officers who had the right of nomination, the power of appointing cadets absolutely, without subjecting their nominees to the ordeal of a competitive examination. That system has lasted till the present time, and the two plans have had a fair trial of about the same duration. Now, Sir, of those two plans, which has stood the test of experience the best? I am not going to enter into a debate on the merits and demerits of competition. But when applying once more to the Navy a principle which a previous Board of Admiralty announced to be unsuitable for it, the present Board is bound to give its reasons; and, happily, the field of argument is reduced to a very narrow spot indeed. The most serious line of reasoning against competition has no bearing on this case. It has been often urged against the competitive system that in Services like the Army, Navy, and the Indian Civil Service it is essential to have men of a certain social rank; that a system of competition is not a sufficient guarantee; and that the nomination should be left in the hands of persons who could be trusted to choose candidates whose antecedents and family associations were satisfactory. The late Board of Admiralty left the nomination of cadets in the hands of members of the Board and of flag 1372 officers on appointment to their stations. The present Board of Admiralty leaves the nominations in the same hands, but adds to them post captains. I feel sure that the Committee will be satisfied that whatever personal guarantee can be afforded by the character of the officer in whose hands an appointment lies, that guarantee will be afforded by a post captain of the British Navy. This admission, which will be universally made, reduces the arguments against the proposed change to one, and one only. The ground on which the Board of Admiralty restored pure nomination was that the limited competition which had been in force between 1869 and 1875 injured the health of the cadets. Now, Sir, I venture to assert, what I have often supported within these walls by copious illustrations, that, taking a man's life through, mental energy and bodily energy are, in most cases, intimately connected; and so satisfied am I of this, that even if our cadets did suffer a little from overwork, I would take that temporary inconvenience for the sake of the sort of young fellows whom we should get under a competitive system. But I prefer to take a narrower point, and to contend that boys of 13 or 14 who succeed in a competitive examination are, at any rate, not inferior in health to those who fail. On this point the Board of Admiralty has provided itself with outside evidence of a very interesting nature. They selected certain well-known schools, which contained a class of foundation scholars who had been admitted by competition, as well as a class of boys who had been placed at the school by their parents after a single test examination, and inquired whether there was any marked difference between the bodily health and strength of the two classes. The results of the inquiry were as follows. Dr. Hornby, of Eton, reported that the collegers were not inferior physically to the oppidans. Dr. Haig Brown, of the Charterhouse, replies as follows:—The successful candidates have taken no hurt from their previous training. They are boys of strong, vigorous constitution, both of body and mind, and they take their full share in school games.Dr. Vardy, of King Edward's School, at Birmingham, writes to exactly the same effect. And, finally, Dr. Ridding, of 1373 Winchester, who, on a question of this sort, may be trusted to speak with any man in the country, says this—The scholars at Winchester are not physically inferior to the other boys. In games that require time, like cricket, several each year will sacrifice a leading position to school exigencies; but even then I have known nearly half the cricket eleven come from 'College.' In football, which perhaps represents physique best, the 70 scholars manage to hold their own against the other divisions of 150 each. Taken individually, their bodily strength is not inferior, and their pluck and spirit at least equal.Well, Sir, as at Winchester and Eton, so it has been on board the Britannia. The Medical Director General of the Navy was desired to call for Reports from the medical officers who had had experience of the cadets who had entered by competition and by pure nomination. The deduction to be drawn from this inquiry is expressed in his Report as fellows:—There is no perceptible difference in the physique of the cadets appointed under the two systems.But if there is an equality of physical condition under the two systems, it is otherwise when we come to intellectual results. On this point I shall not dilate; first, because the Navy Estimates are not the occasion for anything that resembles Party recrimination; and, secondly, because I do not think it right to say what may hurt the feelings of young men who are officers of our Navy, and many of whom are fine and valuable officers. But none the less is it the case that, so far from the removal of competition having done away with cramming, the cramming is worse than ever. The instructors of the Britannia are bound to pull the boys over the course; and it is contrary to every principle of education to hurry and push a lad over the later stages of education when he has not thoroughly mastered the earlier ones; and that is certainly the case with not a few of the cadets who are entered under the pure nomination system. At last it came to this—that there was talk of a proposal to have two courses on the Britannia—one an obligatory course for the run of boys, and the other an optional course for the cleverer ones. Sir, this was a proposal which the Board of Admiralty could not entertain. The two systems had, in their opinion, had quite a sufficient trial, and 1374 they resolved to revert, without delay, to the system established in 1869; enlarging it so far as to enter three times as many candidates as there were vacancies, instead of only twice as many. The subjects of the examination have been carefully selected for the purpose of discouraging cramming. If any gentleman who takes interest in examinations, and I am glad to say that there are many such in this Parliament, will look at the list of subjects, he will see that it would be as impossible to cram for it as to cram for a University Scholarship at Cambridge. In French and in Latin the candidates are examined, not in any particular book, but in the language in general; and they are permitted to bring their dictionaries, so that a boy who has seen the piece set may have no special advantage over the boy who has not. Four cadetships are given to the sons of gentlemen in the Colonies, and five to the sons of officers who have been lost in the service of their country by sea or land. A slight advantage has been withdrawn from the successful competitors, which I hope the judgment of the Committee will endorse. The cadets will no longer receive pay and pocket-money from the country. The truth is that the cost of education elsewhere has risen so greatly that the education supplied in the Britannia is quite disproportionably cheaper than can be got anywhere else. Even after this deduction is made, a parent will pay £70 a-year for what he could not obtain in the open scholastic market for less than £100 a-year; and I will venture to say that, when once the cadets on the Britannia are all picked boys, a parent would not easily find a school to which he would more willingly intrust his son. I may say that the Board reserve to themselves the power of admitting at a lower rate of £40 a-year 10 yearly among the cadets whose fathers have a claim on the public, and whose circumstances justify the concession. And, Sir, there is another argument of great importance for restoring the principle of competition. Under a system where every nomination is equivalent to the gift of an office, the temptation to nominate more officers than the Service requires is almost too strong for human nature. This is curiously seen in the history of the Navy. The years from 1858 to 1868 were the last years of pure nomination, During those years the entries of 1375 cadets were 142, 360, 179, 174, 189, 171, 169, 176, 160, 136, 119. In 1869 the question was carefully inquired into, and it was discovered that to supply the needs of the Navy not 180, or 160, cadets a-year were required, but 60 or 70 at the outside. The enormous burden to the country, the terrible disadvantage to officers of a block in promotion, disappeared on the day when competition took the place of nomination. But, Sir, I am glad to say that the tendency to increase the numbers of appointments, which began to show itself as soon as the system of nomination was revived in 1875, was checked by the personal influence of a Gentleman to whom the Navy owes much. In 1875, 96 appointments were made; and in the following years the number was of an average of 84. But in January, 1880, the right hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith), anxious not only to do what was right himself, but to see that his successors should do so too, instituted inquiries which resulted in the calculation that 55 cadetships a-year would be enough to keep the Navy supplied until the list of lieutenants was reduced to the number of 1,000, at which he wished them to stay. That calculation has been revised by the officer who made it; and it has been ascertained that the right hon. Gentleman had given the benefit of the doubt in favour of economy; and the present Board has fixed the annual number of entries at 65. And now, Sir, I pass on to another question which forcibly illustrates the unsoundness of the practice which was in vogue before the right hon. Member for Pontefract made the reduction in the annual entries of cadets. To enter more officers than the Service of the country requires imposes a heavy burden on the taxpayer; but it is likewise a very cruel kindness to the officers themselves. Promotion is the keystone of efficiency in a fighting Service; and rapid promotion is impossible if all the channels of the Service are clogged and blocked in consequence of an extreme redundance of officers. When the right hon. Member for Pontefract became First Lord there were 1,100 sub-lieutenants, midshipmen, and cadets, as against 663 who are at present in The Nary List. And, now, these officers are in and about the top of the list of lieutenants, and find that they have 1376 to pay for the facility with which cadetships were given away in old days by the slowness with which in these days they rise to the rank of commander. Their grievance was brought before Parliament last year by the right hon. and gallant Member for the Wigton Burghs (Sir John Hay), and an undoubted grievance it is. In January of this year there were 24 lieutenants of 14 years' standing, and 28 of 13 years' standing; whereas it is desirable, on every ground, that an officer, who is to be promoted at all, should be promoted, at latest, by the time he has been a lieutenant for 12 years. The Board of Admiralty accordingly determined to do something to relieve the grievance, and have obtained an Order in Council by which the promotions to the rank of commander were virtually raised from 20 to 25 a-year. It is not necessary for this purpose to increase the number of commanders above the authorized list. That list stands, as it has previously stood, at 225; but by the relaxation of the Order in Council the maximum number of commanders will be reached more rapidly than there was any prospect of reaching it before the Order was relaxed. It has been a great satisfaction to the First Lord to have had the means of promoting five additional deserving officers; and to be able to look forward to the same opportunity during the years which will elapse until the effect will be felt of the reduction in the number of first entries of cadets, which was made in 1869, and until the Service is once more restored into a healthy, and what we may fairly anticipate to be, a normal state of promotion. How great a difference there is already for the better from the state of things which existed before 1870, hon. Members who have not watched the Navy debates for many years past may, perhaps, not be aware. We have, at this moment, 90 unemployed post captains, as against upwards of 200, 65 unemployed commanders, as against upwards of 250; and taking the class of lieutenants and sub-lieutenants in conjunction with the navigating officers, we have, on this great list, less than 300 unemployed, as against 650 in 1869. And among those who now are classed as unemployed considerably over 100 officers are studying at College for the purpose of providing themselves with an equipment of advanced professional 1377 knowledge which will be equally to the advantage of their country and themselves. Everywhere there is hope, interest, generous emulation. The Service is alive; and that vitality it owes to the high-minded abstinence from the too free exercise of patronage which has honoured the administration of successive First Lords of both the great Parties in the State—which is ever bringing us nearer and nearer to the point when, to become a naval officer, is to obtain an active career instead of an empty rank, with all the miseries of talents unemployed and hopes deferred. There are, however, bodies of officers under the administration of the Admiralty who would not admit that their conditions of service answer to the description which I have just given, and there is one set of officers in particular who have afforded a very striking and exceptional proof that their grievances are real. When a class of public servants applies for an improvement in their position, they are very generally met with the argument—the very just argument—that the country should not be called upon to pay more than the market price of the services which it requires, and that as long as public servants of the right sort are freely forthcoming there is a strong proof that that market price is actually being paid. But that argument does not hold in the case of the Medical Service of the Navy. The experience of many years has shown that the present inducements do not attract such a number of medical candidates as would give us the choice which we should like to exercise in selecting surgeons. Nay, more than this, so far from having a choice, it is long since as many candidates have presented themselves as there were vacancies to be filled. In the course of the last 10 years only 220 candidates have presented themselves for examination, and the establishment has in consequence fallen from 476 to about 400. It has often happened that instead of having, as we ought to have, four candidates for each vacancy, we had four vacancies, on an average, for each candidate. It is important, too, that in supplying a National Service like the Navy, public servants should be drawn equally from the whole surface of the United Kingdom. But this was far from the case with our surgeons. Of the degrees and diplomas held by the candi- 1378 dates, 103 were from Medical Colleges of England; 128 of Scotland; and 251, or more than the two other countries together, from Ireland. Such famous institutions as Oxford, Cambridge, London University, were not represented on our list of candidates at all. We suffered; but we did not suffer alone. The Army found a difficulty in supplying itself with medical officers, not, indeed, as great as ours, but so great as to call for a trenchant remedy. In February, 1878, Lord Cranbrook appointed a small Committee, who examined into the causes of the difficulty under which the War Office found itself in procuring medical officers, and recommended a great amelioration in the position of those officers. The recommendations of that Committee were practically embodied in an Army Circular issued by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Stanley), which has had a great, and, I hope, a permanent effect in popularizing the Medical Service of the Army. At the half-yearly medical examinations for the Army there came forward, during the years from 1868 to 1878, an average of 17 candidates. The Circular improving the position of medical officers appeared in January, 1880. At the examination which preceded its appearance, and at the two examinations which followed it, there were respectively 74, 42, and 78 candidates, or an average of 64. Well, Sir, if the expectation and fruition of the Army Medical Scheme could produce such marked effects upon the entry of candidates for the Army, it is reasonable to hope that the same result will be produced if a proportional improvement is made in the position of the Naval Medical Service. I say proportional improvement, because it has been clearly recognized that the medical officers of the Navy require to be actually better treated than their brethren of the Army. In 1866, there sat a Joint Military and Naval Committee, which came almost unanimously to the conclusion that the life of a Navy surgeon was so much less agreeable, owing to the hardship on board ship, the severance of domestic ties, the liability of being placed on half-pay, and other disadvantages, that the Navy surgeon ought throughout his career to have the advantage over the Army surgeon to the extent of 7 per cent in his emoluments. Just before the end of the last Parliament the late 1379 First Lord appointed a Committee, presided over by Admiral Hoskins, which has brought in a Report admirably clear and practical. The recommendations of that Report have been, as regards the Service at large, accepted by the Admiralty, and will be embodied in Orders in Council. I will not trouble the Committee with the details of the change further than to say that the advance of 7 per cent on the improved position of Army surgeons has been accepted as the principle. Henceforward, a young man will be able to step at once into an assured income of £210 a-year, besides his quarters and the victuals which he draws; and it is net easy to be so securely and comfortably settled in life at that age in any calling whatsoever. When he finally retires, he will enjoy a good pension, which will make him an object of envy to many a hard-worked practitioner of his own standing, who cannot afford to leave his private business. A flow of promotion will be maintained by the compulsory retirement of Fleet surgeons, who have not risen to be Deputy inspectors General, at the age of 55; and by the offer of handsome gratuities to younger men at fixed periods of 8, 12, and 16 years' service. Numerous other advantages are offered to which I will not allude at length, except by stating that a Fleet surgeon will henceforward be treated, as he always should have been treated, to the privilege of being placed on the list of officers for whom special cabins are appropriated. For reasons which I need not give here, the Admiralty have determined to withdraw their young medical men from the course at Netley, rare as the educational advantages of Netley are, and much as we appreciate them. Henceforward, instead of passing through their special education in the character of students with a small allowance for their maintenance, they will be from the first young naval officers, on the full pay of a surgeon, profiting by the experience and teaching of older naval surgeons in the Naval Hospital at Haslar. In every way, for the first time in its existence, the Medical Service of the Navy will be placed in a position worthy of the Service which has been honoured by such names as Sir Joseph Hooker and Professor Huxley. There is another body of officers, with regard to whose position and prospects something has been said 1380 in the House, and a great deal outside it. It would be idle to assert that the arrangements for quickening promotion and retirement have satisfied officers in all grades of the Royal Marines; and there are other proposals with regard to all ranks of that most distinguished, and to me personally, if I may be allowed to say so, in the character of a critic of the Purchase system, most deeply interesting Corps, which are attracting the earnest attention of the Admiralty. But, though the Board of Admiralty are not willing to admit that there is an over-close analogy between the Navy and Army, still it is indisputable that the Royal Marines are too near akin to a purely military force to be treated at Whitehall without any reference to the policy which obtains in Pall Mall. We have waited to be fully informed of the final arrangements with regard to officers and non-commissioned officers which are proposed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War; and the Board of Admiralty is now prepared to begin considering the questions which affect the Marines, and they hope to have those changes in operation on the 1st of July. It is not the habit of the noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty to anticipate performance by pledges; and I trust that the Committee will give him so much indulgence as to believe that the thoroughness with which he has treated so many questions as are included in next year's Estimates will be an earnest of the spirit in which he will deal with those to which he has promised his careful and not tardy attention. And now, Sir, from the officers I pass to the men, the numbers of whom may be found on page 7 of the Estimates. We ask next year for 30,988 petty officers and seamen, as against 31,433 this year. The variation is not more than is usual one year with another, and it is satisfactory to be able to state that the number of seamen proposed to be voted this year is greater than in any of the seven years preceding 1880–1. The diminution is in the number of bluejackets, which have come down from 20,369 to 19,903; while the stokers and artificers have risen from 7,378 to 7,929. The main cause of this diminution is the loss of seamen in the Eurydice and Atalanta, and the small entry of boys in 1878–9. In that year the First Lord, finding that, under the 1381 attractions of the continuous service system, the number of seamen was growing more rapidly than the Service required, reduced the entry of boys by something like two-fifths below the average; entering only 1,776, as against about 3,000. The result of that reduction in the entries we are feeling at present, and there is no need for alarm about it. But then it appears to have struck the right hon. Gentleman that in a question like the manning of our Navy there should be that regularity of system by which alone so important a machinery can work without being liable to constant and damaging criticism, and he determined to lay down a rule for the guidance of himself and his successors. He pronounced that between 18,000 and 19,000 was the normal number of blue-jackets at which we ought to aim; and by an elaborate calculation he found that 2,200 boys a-year would supply the annual waste in that force of men. Now, the present Board of Admiralty does not intend lightly to depart from the practice of the right hon. Gentleman. I trust that hon. Gentlemen will not believe that I am inclined to underrate the value of our seamen. It is difficult to express the pleasure with which one who has, for many years past, been giving his thoughts to Army questions, and who knows what are the difficulties of recruiting, finds himself connected with a Service where the rank and file are trained professional fighting men, bred to it from their youth up, and regarding their calling as men regard a well-paid life-long career. I never shall err on the side of diminishing so stable a force, which stands like a rock amidst the ever-changing, the necessarily ever-changing, Military Forces of our country. It is after very deliberate and close examination that I have come to endorse the figure given by the right hon. Gentleman. The first consideration in favour of that figure is afforded by the numbers of blue-jackets during the last 30 years. In 1858 the blue-jackets numbered 23,000; in 1860, 32,000; in 1864, 25,000; in 1868, 20,000; then between 1870 and 1874 they fell to 18,000; then rose to 19,000 in 1876, and 20,000 again in 1878. There is, it will be observed, only one great variation, and that was in consequence of an enormous entry of boys in the "Invasion Panic" of 1859. The practice of so many successive Boards is a 1382 strong argument in favour of a figure of between 18,000 and 19,000 being the right figure; and the reason for a decrease in the average number of our blue-jackets from the 22,000 or 23,000 of 20 years ago may very shortly be stated. That reason consists in the difference between our fighting ships of the present and the past in structure and in complement. The fighting ships of old days cost little and carried large crews. The fighting ships of to-day cost the annual revenue of a small Kingdom, but carry far smaller crews, and of those a far larger proportion consist of artificers and engineers, and a far smaller proportion of pure blue-jackets. The most powerful fighting ship of 20 years ago was the Duke of Wellington. She cost £140,000, and carried 1,100 men, of whom 633 were blue-jackets. The most powerful fighting ship of our present Fleet is, presumably, the Inflexible. She cost £700,000, and carries 370 men, of whom probably about 120 are blue-jackets. A 90-gun flag ship in 1864 carried 834 men, of whom 439 were blue-jackets. The Alexandra, a flag ship of to-day, carries 688 men, of whom 298 are blue-jackets. There are only 110 blue-jackets in the Thunderer, which, as a movable engine of war, stands in the very first rank. And it must be remembered that, while our requirements of seamen have decreased, our reserve of seamen has rapidly grown. For 10 years past our Coastguard is as fine a body of seamen as the world has ever seen or ever can see; in perfection of discipline, in fulness of experience, fit especially for a sudden emergency. We have the Pensioner Reserve, with the great body of pensioners behind them, who, at the least, can do the work of the guard ships and Steam Reserve in the home ports, and release every available active young man to serve on board the Fleet. And then we have the 18,000 men of our Naval Reserve—the creation of the last 20 years—by which we are enabled to draw promptly and effectively on the vast resources of our Mercantile Navy. Sir, it was with all these facts in view that the right hon. Member for Westminster laid down his somewhat elastic limit for the seamen of the future; and it is with these facts in view that the present First Lord has confirmed his decision. Until, by careful and constant observation, we ascertain that the num- 1383 ber of boys whom he proposes to enter annually is either too large or too small to keep our seamen to that limit, we shall continue to enter the same number of boys yearly, and refrain from those hasty and extensive variations in our enlistments of the past which financially and, I think, administratively have not been to the advantage of the Navy. And now, Sir, I have come pretty well to the end of the personal matters that are connected with these Estimates, and it is time to turn to their financial aspect. Hon. Gentlemen will observe that, in concert with the framers of the Army Estimates, we have included in the Votes for the financial year of 1880–1 the first Supplementary Estimate for the war in the Transvaal, and in the Votes for the financial year of 1881–2 the estimated Transvaal expenditure for that year, as it was estimated early in February. Deducting these stuns from both years, we find a net increase on the normal Estimates of £149,984. Now, for this increase two Votes, and two alone, are chargeable. The Dockyard Vote for Wages, and the Vote for Naval Stores to be consumed in the Dockyards, are answerable for the whole, it may fairly be said, of this increase. What we shall get for our money I will inform the Committee; but, for the present, I must beg hon. Members to notice that those items which require minute care to watch—which may be said to be evidences of the attention of administrators to small details—in no case show a real increase, and in some cases show a very sensible economy. The only exception is the Scientific Vote, and that is apparent, and not real. Very great care has been taken in re-modelling these Estimates, in which the right hon. Member for Westminster will, no doubt, frequently recognize the bold but prudent touch of that excellent public servant, the Accountant General, whom the Admiralty owes to his judicious choice. The tabulated Appendices at the end of the Estimates—superior, I think, in clearness and brevity to anything we have had yet—show that hand in several places, and nowhere is it more apparent than in Vote 5. As was done last year with the Britannia, the salaries of the training schools for engineer students have this year been collected out of every corner of Vote 1 and Vote 6, and charged to Vote 5, where they pro- 1384 perly belong. In this way, an apparent increase of £7,000 becomes on closer examination a real decrease of £4,000. There is a diminution of £8,000 for New Works and Buildings; of nearly £5,000 for Medical Stores; of £8,000 for Miscellaneous Services. On Vote 14—greatly to the credit of the Transport Department, which, amidst the constant spurts of overwork to which it has been subjected by recent events, might well have been excused if it had not found time to re-consider its system with a view to economy—a careful re-arrangement of the method of sending out our men and officers to re-commissioned ships by troop ships instead of by passenger ships has led to savings which amount to the really considerable figure of £5,000, and which, it may be confidently anticipated, will be in part permanent. For the ordinary transport service of the year which is done for the Army, £145,000 is asked for, as against £171,000 last year. The Votes for Salaries and Pensions for the Admiralty Offices stand much where they did; but they will not stand there long. The re-organization began by the present Secretary of State for War, and carried to its completion by a renewed and spontaneous effort by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster and his energetic lieutenant, the hon. Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), will soon begin to show its fruit. No one who has the pleasure of working at the Admiralty now can fail to recognize the extraordinary change for good which those two successive reforms have wrought in the Department. The most celebrated of my Predecessors, Mr. Samuel Pepys, says once and repeats it pretty often—"It is strange to see how many people it do take to do the King's business." That can no longer be said of the Admiralty Office. There are now as many public servants as the Service requires, and of the right class. The saving at the end of 10 years will be £8,500, and the ultimate saving in salary and pension will be not far from £40,000 in the Admiralty Offices in town alone. And, while the expense will be less, the work is already better done. There are fewer people, but they are better arranged, and far better contented. Promotion by selection, once so unpopular because new, is now the pride of the Office; and to give the less efficient man a post of 1385 command and responsibility merely because he stood at the top would cause as much discontent now as in old days would have been caused by the best man being placed over the head of his senior. Men who have the zeal of their Profession are now in the places of trust; and business goes with a rapidity and a thoroughness which, to a Minister of the past, would have appeared incredible. We have endeavoured to supplement the arrangements of our Predecessors in a point which still remained untouched. It has long been recognized that civil employment of a suitable kind was most desirable for Army and Navy pensioners. Employment of that description appeared to the present Board to exist among the messengerships of the Admiralty Office. The patronage of those places was of a humble sort; but it was, for well-understood reasons, a patronage which has time out of mind been cherished as a particularly useful and agreeable patronage by Ministers. The present Board has, however, determined to forego the privilege of appointing as messengers those who have a personal claim on them, and to give these posts henceforward to naval pensioners who have deserved by good conduct at sea the privilege of serving their country in what may be looked on as a snug berth on land. One word, before I finally pass to the shipbuilding, must be said about the Non-Effective Votes. The half pay and retired pay to officers shows a reduction of £17,000, owing to the falling-in of the first of the sets of Terminable Annuities created to meet the commutations of pension by which the great reductions of the active list in 1869 and the subsequent years were carried through. On the other hand, there is an increase of £15,000 on the Civil Pensions Vote on account of the recent reductions in the Admiralty Office made by the late Board. There remains an increase, not so large indeed as others in the list, but of all others the most black and ominous in the eyes of every genuine economist. I refer to the £24,000 or so by which the Military Pensions and Allowances have increased this year. The results of the continuous service system, excellent from the military point of view, from the aspect of economy are very formidable. In the year 1852, when the system took its present form, the Vote for Military Pen- 1386 sions and Allowances was £469,000. In 1860 the effect had not begun to be felt; the Vote still stood at £465,000; in 1865 it had begun to rise, and it stood at £501,000. In 1870, it was £606,000; in 1873, it was £658,000; in 1875, it was 703,000; in 1878, it was £781,000; in 1879, it was £810,000; and this year, alarming to relate, it has risen, by unavoidable automatic action, to 847,000. In laying these Estimates before the Committee, I must deprecate the wrath of economical reformers so far as to bid them observe that one single item, which for 15 years to come we can do nothing to check, has in the course of 15 years past risen by near £400,000. What possible comparison, except to our sore disadvantage, can be made between the Estimates of the present and the Estimates of the past? But our sufferings, so far from making us selfish, have filled us with compassion and fellow-feeling for future Boards of Admiralty. We are determined that, at any rate, the country shall not be saddled with such a burden permanently and for ever, without a careful inquiry into the possibility of that burden being alleviated. The time has come for an examination into the problem as to whether the advantages of continuous service cannot be retained with some diminution of its enormous cost. There is no notion of touching the interests, boy or man, of anyone who has already engaged to serve Her Majesty. But, as regards the manning of the Navy in the future, a careful inquiry, which is now being conducted by able financiers and a most trusted naval officer, Captain Codrington, will enable the Admiralty to see whether seamen as efficient as we obtain now can be got and kept without the enormous, and, as far as we can see, unlimited outlay which at present lies around us and before us. In connection with the Vote, I should like to have referred to a change from which those who best knew our seamen expect a large amount of good. The Board of Admiralty, having now a Bill on the Table to abolish the punishment of flogging, have thought it their duty to ask themselves whether they can do anything to diminish the temptation to drink—the direct or indirect cause of faults for which flogging used to the punishment; and they have devised a scheme which I hope and trust will conduce to temper- 1387 ance, at the same time that it will add to the health and comfort of our seamen. But time, and a sense of justice towards those who will follow me, warn me to defer the exposition of that scheme until Vote 2, and perhaps the Resolutions of the hon. Members for Scarborough (Mr. Caine) and Paisley (Mr. W. Holms), which they have so kindly postponed tonight, will give me the opportunity of stating it. We now find ourselves face to face with the Votes, the amount and destination of which depend upon the naval policy of a Government. Those Votes are the Dockyard Establishments, which this year cost £1,446,346; the Vote for Naval Stores of £1,172,700; and the Vote for Machinery and Ships built by Contract, which amounts to £683,239. Now, in these, the first Estimates which the present Board of Admiralty has framed, it is incumbent on us to make up our minds as to the policy which we should pursue so long as we are intrusted with the charge of Her Majesty's Navy. There is a tendency—sometimes there is even a necessity—for a Board to direct its expenditure into a special line. One Board makes great efforts in the direction of iron shipbuilding; another prides itself on placing the existing iron-clads in a state of efficiency; and further back, there were times when to build gun-boats was considered the pressing duty of the day. The present Board has come to the conclusion that the circumstances of the Navy permit us this year to produce a scheme, which shall be, if I may so call it, a normal scheme; which shall exceed in no direction, and, as far as possible, fall short in none; and which, with comparatively little variation and disturbance, may be worked one year with another for the purpose of making good, to a reasonable extent, all the current needs of the Navy. I say to a reasonable extent, for the almost feverish advance of science, sharpened and impelled by the rivalry of the great Naval Powers, has rendered it necessary rigorously and carefully, not, indeed, to dole out—no one who scans these Estimates can in justice use that term—but to dispense and partition the sums allotted to each of the great branches of Our naval system. How numerous are those branches, and how indispensable it is to pay to each of them a full share of attention, is sometimes forgotten both by those who de- 1388 mand that more money shall be spent upon some one object, and likewise by those who complain that too much money is spent upon all together. In the first place comes that class of vessels which are the foundation of the maritime greatness of all nations, and the domestic security of our own—the ships that are to fight in line of battle. Whatever else may be neglected, this we cannot afford to neglect. This work we cannot postpone, because three or four years hence we may find some better method of doing it. Men dispute, and, perhaps, will for ever dispute, as to the best type of battle ship; but a good ship that is armed and afloat is better than an ideal ship which is still on the stocks. The present Board may have notions of their own as to the man-of-war of the future; but they find plenty of work left them by their Predecessors, in the shape of carefully and ably designed iron-dads, which only want to be completed in order to render them fit then to dispute the seas against any corner. The best way of getting to a new design is to finish the old one out of hand; whereas, if ships are laid down freely, and finished off slowly, the nation has never the advantage of a new design at all. This coming year, accordingly, the Agamemnon and Ajax are to be completed for sea at Chatham, and will soon follow their great prototype, the Inflexible, which will be commissioned in June or July. At Chatham, likewise, the Conqueror, which is of the improved Ruport type, up to which the Hotspur has recently been re-modelled, will be pushed forward with all the energy that can be commanded. At present she is about a quarter built. By the end of next year she will, if all goes well, be advanced to three quarters. At the same yard that remarkable ship, the Polyphemus, which, as some think, is destined to work a revolution in naval warfare, will be completed, at a cost certainly not too great for so interesting an experiment. At Portsmouth the Colossus will be advanced by over a quarter; and at Pembroke her sister, the Majestic, will be advanced about as much. At Pembroke, too—a yard, by its vicinity to coal and iron, excellently adapted for that iron shipbuilding on a large scale, to which, from its maritime seclusion as compared with the Channel Dockyards, it is able to give its full time 1389 —the Collingwood, the youngest device of the late Board, will have the first serious work done upon her. It is not until the close of the year, when the stress of these unfinished tasks is off his hands, that the present First Lord intends finally to determine on the type of the first-class iron-clads, one of which will certainly be laid down at Chatham, and another elsewhere. These are considerable undertakings. I might have recommended them to the Committee, and, at the same time, have given point to a tame narrative, by referring to the efforts in the same direction that are being made by other nations. But those comparisons, not always very discreet or very expedient, for reasons into which I need not enter, are in this case unnecessary. We do not need arguments drawn from the confidential Navy Lists of other Powers to stimulate us at Whitehall to do what must be done in order to keep Great Britain in the maritime position which she enjoys, and the Committee do not need such arguments to grant us the sums of money which that essential and indispensable duty requires. But before I bring the list of what we are doing in steel and iron to a close, I must say a word on a subject on which silence would be culpable. There is one department in which, whether we consider our Navy in relation to that of its great neighbour, or in relation to the enormous commerce which, in time of war, it would be bound to protect—not loss than half the Mercantile Marine of the globe—we have till lately been behindhand. Taking 14 knots as the standard of high speed, we have only 11 swift cruisers, counting the Iris and Mercury despatch vessels among them. Fine vessels they are, and no doubt the Shah and the Raleigh, when they have got on board their new armament, will give a good account—a very good account indeed—of any cruiser in the world that is not an iron-clad. But the world is a large place; and eight or ten vessels cannot be everywhere, and the safety of our commerce imperatively demands that the swift cruisers which we have ready at the outbreak of a war shall be enough to clear the seas of privateers. Much use, as a war goes on, may, no doubt, be made of the armed merchantmen on the Admiralty List; but we must have Royal cruisers to begin with, A commencement was made last year by the late Board in the Leander 1390 and her two consorts, which, with their partially protected machinery, their great speed, and their excellent guns, will be everything that can be desired for the purpose for which they were devised. The present Board have carried this policy farther. We are pushing on the Leanders, and we have laid down a fourth Leander at Pembroke, to occupy the spare time of the 200 extra men who are working on the iron-clads. We have determined, in the new vessels of the Comus class, to give an extra knot of speed. But we have done more than this. In our opinion, it is necessary to produce a vessel which shall not only have the heels of others, but which shall be able to meet, on at least equal terms, I almost anything she is likely to catch. Great pains have been spent over the form and attributes of a vessel which, in the words of the designer, is intended—Especially for independent service on foreign stations, where fast, unarmoured ships may have to be opposed, and where the second-class iron-clads of an enemy may have to be met and engaged.On such service it is considered desirable to secure the following conditions:—A speed of 16 knots; a comparatively large number of guns, some of them capable of penetrating the thickest armour of second-class iron-clads at long ranges; armour of proof to protect the vitals of the ship; her coal supply must also be large, and the vessel must have auxiliary sail power to economize fuel, and a coppered bottom to make her independent of docks. Such a vessel, fit to keep the sea and to sweep the sea, the Admiralty believe they have got. Her length is to be 315 feet; her extreme breadth 61 feet; and her tonnage about 7,300. Her horsepower is to be 8,000; her bunkers will hold 900 tons; and her speed on the measured mile will be 16 knots. She has the great advantage of a twin-screw. She will have a belt 8 feet broad and 140 feet long amidships, of steel-faced armour, 10 inches thick with 10 inches of backing, protecting her engine-room and boilers, 3 feet above water and 5 feet below. She will have a conning tower of steel-faced armour; a protecting deck of inclined steel, 3 inches thick, 5 feet under water, covering the whole of that part of the ship, both fore and aft, which is not clad in iron. She will carry an armament of four 18-ton 9.2 inch brooch-loading guns, mounted in bar- 1391 bettes, with protection against bullets, which, at 1,000 yards, will pierce 16½ inches of iron armour, and more than 13 inches of steel-faced armour. She will carry likewise six 6 inch breech-loading guns, equal in range to those which have carried desolation at a distance of five miles into the Peruvian harbours; she will be equipped with boat guns, torpedoes, field-guns, machine guns, and will probably be fitted with a couple of torpedo boats in addition; and she will have room for over 400 men and officers to work her and fight her. She will combine the speed of the Leander; with guns of greater power than the Thunderer or the Devastation; and the Admiralty, with some confidence, submit her to the criticism of a nation which thinks little of ft vessel that cannot travel far and fast, and fight sharply and long. She will rank high among cruisers, and high among second-class iron-clads; and in the hope that she will meet the ends for which she is designed, it is proposed to lay down one such vessel this year at Portsmouth and another at Chatham. Her hull and engines will cost £400,000, as against £550,000 of the Collingwood, and £150,000 of the Leander. Later on, we propose to confide the construction of another to a private yard. My noble Friend (Lord Northbrook) is much impressed with the advisability of keeping up in private establishments the habit and traditions of shipbuilding for war purposes; but he is likewise impressed with the importance of maturing our plans by the process of making our own experiments before we contract for ships to be built on those plans elsewhere than in our own Dockyards. Every alteration of design leads to such delay and such expenditure, that long and melancholy experience has taught the Board that no ship should be built by contract until her design is absolutely and all but finally ascertained. The amount of iron-clad shipping which it is proposed to build in the forthcoming year will amount to no less than 10,816 tons; that is more by nearly 3,600 tons than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) proposed to build last year. It is by upwards of 2,000 tons more than has been built in any year since 1876–7, and in 1876–7 the Estimates were £600,000 higher than the present, and 1392 the Non-Effective Vote was £180,000 lower than that with which we are unfortunate enough to be saddled. It would be impossible to accomplish what we have hoped to accomplish were it not that we have followed the same system which was adopted with such good results in 1878, and allotted a lump sum of £50,000 to the three iron shipbuilding yards to be employed by the local authorities on principles which I will explain when we come to the consideration of Vote No. 6. That money, of which £22,000 will go to Chatham, £13,000 to Portsmouth, and £15,000 to Pembroke, will give the superintendents and constructors some latitude, something to veer and haul on—something which will give them the freedom in employing men on overtime and keeping their machines going when the exigencies of the work demand it, without which private firms would find themselves totally unable to work at profit. But besides the building of new ships, there is another service which can just as little be neglected—the maintenance of our existing Fleet in a condition of efficiency. Now, here we owe much to our Predecessors. The attention which, of late years, has been paid to the repair of our iron-clads has enabled the present Board to throw a greater strength into shipbuilding. The force of Chatham Yard has, with the exception of one ship, been devoted to this purpose, and the Vote for Repairing and Refitting will be slightly below that of last year. But there is no need for anxiety on that account. Apart from the magnificent fleet which is building, apart from the iron-clads which are under repair, we have actually 41 iron-clads, with their boilers, in effective condition; and the Committee may be assured that this essential service is the very last on which, in the opinion of the present Board, money should be spared. But besides fighting in line of battle, besides the protection of our commerce with swift cruisers, there are the endless demands upon the services of our Navy, which have to be met by another class of vessels. The call for gun-boats is incessant from the Foreign Office, from the British residents in ports abroad, who like the sense of security which they feel at the sight of the British flag, and from other quarters where, without being bound by the ties of Treaty or 1393 even nationality, we are urged to yield assistance by the claims of humanity. Since the new year began, in addition to the permanent calls upon our smaller vessels, we have sent a corvette to punish an outrage in the Solomon Islands, a gun-boat to keep in countenance a German vessel which has gone to inquire into a difficulty in the territory of Liberia, a steam sloop to succour an expedition of the Geographical Society on the Mozambique Coast, and a sloop to keep an eye upon the remains of an expedition which a French Marquess has taken out to the Western Pacific, in order to establish a Legitimist community called La Nouvelle France, with the three orders of nobility, bourgeoisie, and peasants, with himself as Viceroy. To meet these demands, we propose to lay down this year and build by contract two new gun-vessels of an improved Rambler tyye, eight improved Mallards as gun-boats, a despatch vessel for fleet service, a new paddle steamer for the service of the African rivers, to replace the Niger, which has gone to the Danube, and a new surveying vessel for the supply of that inestimable and arduous undertaking which we perform on behalf of all the civilized world. In all, armoured and unarmoured, we propose to build 18,890 tons of shipping; an amount which, in every branch, is, in our view, sufficient to supply the yearly demands of the Navy. It is an enormous, even though a necessary, task; and no Board would be justified in recommending so great an outlay unless it was prepared to devote ceaseless and anxious attention to economy in detail. We have lately recalled the attention of the Dockyards to an admirable Order of Sir Spencer Robinson, and desired that the Board may in all cases be consulted before any repair, in order that we may not find ourselves committed to work, which, perhaps, we might have disapproved. We have, likewise, checked to the utmost extent any tendency to Supplementary Estimates of repairs, and to alterations of design during the progress of work. And the greatest care has been applied to one terrible and increasing source of expense. Simple and clear instructions have been sent round the Fleet as to the treatment of boilers, and a system of minute reports and independent inspection into their condition has been instituted, from both of which 1394 measures we hope for good results. A nation which spends £100,000 a-year on new boilers cannot afford to neglect its old ones. The main causes, then, of the increase in the Estimates consist in £87,000 for the wages required to produce so large an amount of shipping, and in the addition of £161,700 to the Store Vote. The Store Vote of 1879–80 was £250,000, and the Store Vote of 1880–1 £270,000 below the average Vote of the preceding five years; and while we applaud the policy of the right hon. Gentleman opposite in keeping stores low and intend to imitate it, still it is obvious that low Store Votes cannot go on for ever, unless the Dockyards are to be dangerously denuded. One other exceptional piece of ill-luck has befallen us—namely, that the 53rd week falls in the forthcoming year, and involves us in an extra charge of about £25,000. Before concluding, I wish to say one word on a subject which depends on naval policy, though it does not largely increase naval expenditure. In one important respect the coming year will be an era in the Navy. At this moment there is not a single heavy breech-loading gun mounted in any of our ships, and by the end of next year a very substantial beginning will have been made towards arming our Fleet with breech-loaders. We have been driven to the step by the fact that a high velocity is now required for the projectile; that high velocity can only be obtained by a great length of gun; and that to load a gun over a certain length at the muzzle becomes impracticable under the ordinary condition of mounting guns afloat. When the shot and the powder weigh nearly a ton together, it is no light matter to ram them down a tube 30 feet long. We have lost nothing by waiting. In the breech-loading guns which are being made at Woolwich, to serve, if successful, as patterns for our future naval ordnance, it has been possible to take advantage of the various improvements introduced by Sir William Armstrong and by the foreign nations which have preceded us in their use. Our new breech-loading guns will be, calibre for calibre, more powerful than any which have been produced abroad; and, in point of price, they will compare favourably with the ordnance of foreign nations. Our new 9-inch breech-loader of 18 tons, which will penetrate 16 1395 inches of iron and 13 of composite armour, costs only two-thirds as much as the Krupp gun of the same size and certainly not greater power. Of that and the 8-inch we shall have a certain supply this year; while for our corvettes we shall have a very large supply indeed of the 6-inch gun of four tons—a beautiful and handy weapon, already proved in war, and such as it will be the pride of a British cruiser to carry. The Government have likewise ordered in a large equipment of Nordenfeldt machine guns; and the War Office have been kind enough to take money for experiments with a larger machine gun which will unite the excellent firing qualities of the Nordenfeldt to the power of carrying shell, which our present Nordenfeldt is too small to carry. Finally, measures have been taken for carrying on the task of providing our Navy with a full equipment of torpedoes and torpedo vessels. It will interest the Committee to know that we have already 19 first-class torpedo boats, each armed with three Whitehead torpedoes. These are 86 feet long, and of a size to act independently, either when attached to a fleet, or for harbour defence. The second-class torpedo boats, 60 feet long, might be carried on beard our battle ships and principal cruisers. They are armed with two torpedoes, and there is talk of altering them to carry machine guns likewise. Their speed is marvellous, and we spare no pains and no expense to increase it. Of these boats we have 18 actually built, and we are building 30 more; and I believe that we, as Englishmen, have reason to regard that special addition to our Navy with great interest and satisfaction. In other Departments of naval affairs other nations, by great exertions of science and expenditure of money, may hope to rival us; but in the management of torpedo warfare the peculiar national qualities which our people possess, and which no money can buy, will, I fully believe, restore to us those advantages which we possessed in the days when individual skill, daring, and self-reliance went, not only for a great deal, but for everything in naval warfare. When I was reading the accounts of the torpedo attacks of the Russian boats on the Turkish iron-clads, I could not but reflect that there was the revival of the days when, in cutting out hostile privateers, the British pinnaces 1396 and cutters used to perform such prodigies of dash and valour. And now, incompletely as regarded each special item, but at a length, taking the whole together, for which I beg to make the Committee my grateful apologies, I have gone through the principal points which have been occupying the attention of our Naval Administrators during the last twelve months, and the undertakings to which, with the approbation of the House, we propose to devote ourselves during the coming year. The hon. Gentleman concluded by proposing the Vote for men and boys.
Before putting the Vote I think it would be convenient to the Committee that I should explain that the general discussion should take place on this Vote. The next Vote is for the Wages of Seamen and Marines, and upon that Vote a discussion also might be taken; but it would not be proper to take upon that Vote a discussion having reference to questions of structure. Therefore, the general discussion raised by the Secretary to the Admiralty should be taken upon the 1st Vote.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The Committee will agree with me in tendering to my hon. Friend my congratulations for the excellent manner and for the clearness with which he has explained the Navy Estimates. I am conscious of the difficulties which must necessarily attend a first attempt of the kind, and I think that nobody who has been in the House for a few years can fail to recognize the extreme ability with which my hon. Friend has discharged his duty. The hon. Gentleman, in the first place—as I think it was fitting he should do—alluded to the very important question of the entry of naval cadets into the Service. I will not go at any great length into the arguments and statements which he addressed to the Committee. I think it would be desirable that questions of this kind should be considered when we come to the particular Votes providing for the Service. I can only say that whom I was First Lord of the Admiralty I felt that the duty of distinguishing between applications and nominations for cadetship was a most invidious duty—a duty that was extremely difficult to discharge with satisfaction to myself, and with a full sense of the responsibility which belonged to an officer in the position I occupied, I am still of 1397 opinion that it is a most desirable thing to discourage in every possible way we can that detestable system of cram which enters into almost every branch of competitive examinations for appointments. I should have wished that the hon. Gentleman could have seen his way to extend the period of education for cadets from two to three years. I believe that would have been a far more beneficial course than the course the Admiralty has adopted. I think it would have been much more serviceable for the Navy if the boys were allowed to go to a school such as the Britannia six months earlier than they do now—at 13, instead of 13½—and if they were permitted to remain there three years, being allowed to enter the Service, after examination, at the expiration of three years. It has occurred within my knowledge that cadets have been admitted into the Britannia for a period of training, who have developed tastes and inclinations not precisely calculated to fit them for the Service; but they are naval cadets, and a certain amount of injury results to the boys themselves and to their parents, if, under any circumstances they are withdrawn from the Service as naval cadets. If, on the other hand, they were admitted into a naval school at 13 years of age, and examined, as it is proper they should be, in regard to their fitness for entering the Service, and if, at the age of 16, it were found that they were not fit for the Service, they would certainly not sustain any damage. They would be well qualified for other positions on leaving; and I think, on the whole, that the Service would be benefited by having a better, a more successful, and more highly trained class of officers. However, I will not go further into that question; but it appears to me that it would have been a somewhat better course to adopt, and before the Admiralty come to a final decision I hope there may yet be time to see whether the period for education could not be extended. It might be done at little cost to the boys themselves or to the Service; but I am satisfied the results would fully justify the slight sacrifice required. My hon. Friend has referred to the reduction which appears in the Estimates of 700 in the number of men borne upon the books. I felt a little alarmed when I saw this reduction, and I should hope that it is 1398 not decided that we are to have a less number of efficient artificers and stokers, who, I believe, are quite as necessary to the Service as blue-jackets; but that we should retain a fully efficient staff of all ranks for the service of the country. The number of 58,100, certainly appears to me to be a small number for the service of such a country as England; but the statement which the hon. Gentleman made to the Committee was one which I think ought to assure the Committee that sufficient provision has been made as far as the blue-jackets are concerned. I believe that the number provided for in the Estimates, with 4,000 Coastguard-men, will give a full and ample supply of blue-jackets for service under our present altered conditions; but it must be borne in mind that the introduction of machinery in handling and working guns rendered it unnecessary that there should be so many men to deal with them. On the other hand, we always ought to have a very considerable reserve of blue-jackets and skilled gunners. I lay special stress on the necessity of having skilled gunners, for on their accuracy, coolness, and knowledge of their weapon depends the supremacy of England at sea. I cannot help referring to the question of guns, to which the hon. Gentleman has just now called the attention of the Committee. The late Board of Admiralty, in conjunction with my right hon. and gallant Friend the late Secretary of State for War (Colonel Stanley), came to the conclusion, which has been so carefully explained by the hon. Gentleman, that it was no longer possible to resist the breech-loaders. It would have been impossible, as far as we could see, to obtain in the muzzle-loading gun the power, range, and penetration of the breech-loading guns which are necessary now to put us on a par with the guns that are found in other countries. At this moment, however good our Woolwich gun may be, there can be no doubt that our naval guns are inferior to the new naval guns found on board the German, the French, and the Russian ships. The later Krupp gun is decidedly superior to anything we possess at this moment on board any of our ships. I therefore concur in the hope which was expressed by my right hon. and gallant Friend the late Secretary of State for War, that the Committee who have been ap- 1399 pointed, no doubt with the full concurrence of the Board of Admiralty, by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War is a Committee which is not intended in the slightest degree to delay or stand in the way of recommending the construction of the best possible sort of gun at once. There is always a danger, in regard to Committees to which a great many subjects are referred, that officers and gentlemen in their position may think it necessary and due to their reputation to take a great deal of time in order to examine everything that has been done by other Committees and by other men before they arrive at a conclusion as to that which is the best possible course to be taken. Now, there is one thing which is even more necessary than the best possible gun; and that is the gun which can be put on board our ships with the least possible delay. It would be intolerable that our sailors and our ships should be sent to sea with a gun decidedly inferior to those which are used in the vessels of other nations; and I am obliged to repeat again that the Krupp gun is decidedly superior to any gun in use in Her Majesty's Service at the present moment. I urge this with persistency upon the Admiralty, because it seems to me an extraordinary thing that, while we do not hesitate to spend anything that is deemed to be necessary for providing a thoroughly efficient ship; while we provide them with electric lights at a cost of £1,000, Or £1,500, or £2,000, and torpedo boats which cost from £3,000 to £5,000 more; while we supply to these ships every now and fitting which science can devise; while we spend something like £500,000 on a new cruiser, or even, as in the case of the Inflexible, a sum of nearly £750,000—we do not hesitate to expend all this money on a single ship which after all is a mere gun-carriage, simply to carry the gun and to hold the gun; and yet, when it comes to the question of the gun itself, we take no steps to secure that it shall be the best that mechanical and scientific skill are able to secure. I think there cannot be a doubt that we ought to have the most perfect gun that can be obtained; and we ought not to be compelled to wait for two or three years until the design of the gun is settled. I have no wish to put difficulties in the way; but I must insist as strongly as I 1400 can upon the absolute necessity of the work being done, of a decision being arrived at, and of the gun being made, so that Her Majesty's Service may be placed in an efficient condition as early as possible. I agree with the hon. Gentleman in the observations which he has made as to the error committed in times past of admitting too many officers to the Service. That has occasioned great disappointment; and I am glad to find that the hon. Gentleman admits that I did not make that mistake, at all events, so that no officer in future will be able to charge upon me that I had ruined the fortune of any gentleman admitted to the Service during the short period I was responsible for the affairs of the Navy. Well, I am glad to find that the Admiralty are able to extend the number of promotions on the lieutenants' list from 20 to 25. The additional promotion of five lieutenants does not seem to afford very considerable relief; but it will be some relief to officers who have been waiting a long time for the step. I would say, again, that it is a mistake to create in any rank a larger number of officers than can be properly and thoroughly employed. It is most undesirable that an officer should be promoted to the rank of commander, and should for a number of years be unemployed—that there should be a considerable period between the date of his promotion and the date of his employment. There is always a danger of young men, who ought to be kept employed having to wait for long periods until their services are required; and, consequently, it not unfrequently happens that a period of two, three, or four years elapses, during which these men are kept on shore when they ought to be maintaining and improving their knowledge of their Profession. I have always been of opinion that the list ought not to be larger than the employment requires; and I should be exceedingly glad if the Board of Admiralty could see their way to the carrying out of an arrangement of this kind. I must say one word about the Flag List. My right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Childers) has spoken with a reasonable feeling of paternal pride of the changes which he made when at the Admiralty some years ago. I will not call in question the policy of those changes at this moment; but it is a fact 1401 that the captains' list is now entirely blocked. There will be no promotions, or scarcely any, for a year or two on the Flag List; and, to use the right hon. Gentleman's own words, if promotions—reasonably regular and fitting promotions—are necessary in order to maintain the life and efficiency of the Service, I think he will find that it is requisite to review the present position of the Flag List and the regulation affecting it; and, in doing so, I may promise him my assistance in making such changes as may, on the whole, be for the advantage of the Service. That some change and relief is required in this respect I am convinced. It is impossible to stop all promotions from the captains' list for an entire year, or, perhaps, two years; and that will be the practical result if the present regulations are maintained. I may now say a few words in regard to the numbers on the Flag List. I do not wish to lay down an arbitrary rule; but I confess, for my own part, that I should have been glad if there had been a few more officers on the Flag List. There have been occasions when it has been exceedingly painful to me, in making appointments, to have to pass over officers who stand next in order for commands because there were other and more fitting men to whom those commands, in my judgment, ought to be given. If there had been a few more officers on the list there would not have been this exceedingly painful appearance of invidious selection. I am fully aware of the fact that a man who stands in the position of a Minister must be fully prepared at all times to take on himself the duty of selection, however invidious that selection may seem. It was my duty to give the appointment to the officer who was best fitted, in my judgment, for it. The responsibility rested on me, however painful it might be, to make the selection. I think it would be for the benefit of the Service if the numbers among whom the selection might be exercised were increased, so that the result would be less painful to seine of the officers passed over. I would urge this on financial grounds as well as on grounds of expediency. I believe that the fact of keeping a few more officers on half pay, instead of retired pay, would be for the actual benefit of the State financially. The half pay 1402 of a rear admiral is £456 5s.; while the retired pay is £600; the half pay of a vice admiral is £593 2s. 6d., and the retired pay is £725. Therefore, there is a difference in favour of the public in regard to half pay as compared with retired pay. The hon. Gentleman has referred at great length, but not at too great length, to the very important question of the Pension List. In conjunction with my Colleagues, I directed my attention to the question of the Pension List some time before we left Office. Attempts were made to get the petty officers to re-enlist by inducements offered to them for that purpose in the shape of an increase of pay. My hon. Friend did not state to the Committee how far those attempts have been successful. I am afraid they have not been largely successful; but the object we had was to postpone the charge for pensions, which would have been effected by the re-engagement of these men for a period of five or seven years, and by what I think would have been a still greater gain to the Service—the retention on the lower deck of men from 38 to 45 years of age, whose experience, whose many good qualities, and whose influence, would have a very beneficial effect indeed on the lower deck. When I say this, I must not be understood to say a single word against the morale of the blue-jackets in the Service as a whole. A more respectable and a better conducted body of men it would be difficult to find in any Service; but still it is only reasonable to suppose that men of middle life would take a more sober view of their duties, and would have a greater idea of the dangers and difficulties which young men are exposed to, and would probably exorcise a useful and beneficial influence among them. I trust the Committee to which my hon. Friend refers will keep in view the great importance of retaining these men in the Service. I believe if they succeed in devising any scheme that will have this effect, it will be of great advantage to the Service to retain the services of men who are willing to reenlist for a period of five, six, or seven years. My hon. Friend referred, also, to the question of the Medical Service. I am exceedingly glad that the Committee which I and my Colleagues had the honour to appoint has resulted in the production of a scheme which, I believe, will be satisfactory to the Ser- 1403 vice. I think the proposal made by the hon. Gentleman is one that ought to be satisfactory. The recognition or the fact that these officers might fairly claim a small comparative increase over the pay of officers of similar rank in the Army is one that ought to be entirely satisfactory to the Naval Medical Service; and where that is done I have no doubt the difficulty of filling up vacancies in the Service will rapidly disappear. We owe a great deal indeed to these officers, and I confess that in former years I have had a difficulty in understanding why it was that the Service was not more popular than it is. To young men with ability and knowledge, with a desire to see the world, no service could offer greater inducements than medical service on board ship. I hope that the attempt which is now being made will be altogether successful; and believe that the result will be exceedingly beneficial to the country. With regard to the Royal Marines, I am exceedingly glad to hear that it is proposed to give them the full advantages—I mean the proportionate advantages—which are conceded to the officers and non-commissioned officers in the Army. There is one suggestion which I should like to make to the hon. Gentleman in connection with the question of the Royal Marines. The seamen receive extra pay as gunners—as trained men in gunnery. It is very well known that the Marines, both in the Infantry and in the Artillery, are exceedingly useful with the guns; and I venture to think their training and their drill, both as Infantry and as Artillery, render them most valuable in connection with the guns. It would be very much to the advantage of the Service if the additional pay given to the blue-jackets as trained men was also given to the marines. It would have this advantage—that it would be paying for results; and it would depend on the capacity and skill of the men themselves whether they had it or not—on their attention to their drill, and on their fitness for the discharge of the work. I think that a reward given to attention to duty in that way, just as it is given to the blue-jackets, would be satisfactory as far as the interests of the Service are concerned. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty adverted to the question of the ships for the year. I think it is desirable, and even necessary, that we 1404 should have a further discussion on that programme, when we come to Vote 6; and, therefore, I shall not go into the question which he has raised at very great length. As to the way the hon. Gentleman dealt with the question, I do not at all complain. The fact is, that the whole increase in the Estimates is due to an increase in shipbuilding. On Vote 6 there is an increase of £82,000; and Vote 10 shows an increase of £161,000. Vote 10 is the Vote for Stores, and hon. Gentlemen may very likely be inclined to think that a Vote for Stores has very little to do with shipbuilding, unless they have had some acquaintance with the actual work in a dockyard. In point of fact, the stores here referred to are iron plates, and all the materials out of which ships are built. I fancy this large increase of £161,000 is, in a great measure, due to armour plates for iron-clads. It is impossible that 4,000 tons additional of armour-clad ships could be built without largely increasing the Stores Vote. It must be done, because you have not got the stores on which to fall back, and you are obliged to supply them and pay for them in the course of the year. That, I apprehend, is the state of the facts so far as stores are concerned. Then, with regard to the reduction on Vote 10, Section 2, it appears to me to be entirely due to the reduction in the amount paid for locomotive machinery and for shipbuilding, and the repairing of ships by contract. I confess I am sorry to see that there is a reduction in the amount for ships repaired by contract, because, although I fully admit the importance of keeping up our shipbuilding programme, I feel, as I have always felt, that as a nation liable at any time to be involved in warlike preparations or in actual war, we ought not to leave for any unnecessary period any ships on which we should rely in time of war in a state of disrepair. The hon. Gentleman referred in his speech to the Shah being in repair. The Shah is being repaired this year; but I see no provision whatever for the repair of the Raleigh, which is, I believe, in a state to require repair, and could not be sent to sea without considerable previous expenditure. In the same way I regret to see the absence of any provision for the repair of the Rupert; and it appears to me that the Bellerophon, which was to be completed by the middle of last year, according to the Return 1405 presented last August, is again postponed—not until the year 1881–2, but until some time in the next year. We shall therefore have three iron-clads in the Dockyards which will not be available during any portion of the year 1881–2. There is also another ship—the Resistance—which will not be available during any portion of the year 1881–2, and the repair of which, if taken in hand on the 31st of March, 1882, must extend over a considerable portion of that year. There is also another ship in regard to which I feel considerable interest. That is the Black Prince. My Colleagues and I had almost decided to put compound engines into that ship, largely adding to her coal endurance. She possesses great speed, and was to be armed probably with 12 or 14 breech-loading guns, and with these alterations she would have been a very powerful and valuable cruiser; but no decision appears to have been come to in that matter by the present Board of Admiralty. I do not wish at all to urge my hon. Friend, because I know it is not possible to come rapidly to a decision upon questions like these; but there are three or four powerful ships which are useless as far as war is concerned, and which must remain useless until they are taken in hand. If war were unhappily declared from any cause—and we were told the other day that the state of affairs is not altogether re-assuring, for we were informed by the Prime Minister that the Cabinet were considering from day to day questions of peace or war—remembering a statement of that kind, a certain amount of uneasiness must be felt at the fact that these ships, which in an emergency might be exceedingly useful, are to be allowed to remain incapable of service for at least a year from the present time. That is to say, that they are not to be taken in hand, except the Bellerophon, during the course of the present year. I know the difficulty of dealing with this question, and that money enters largely into the consideration; but I should be disposed, on a future day, to urge it again on the attention of the Government. Ships, said to be complete, like the Ajax and the Agamemnon, this year will still be many months before they are in a state to go to sea. The time taken in rendering a new ship fit for sea is very great; and, glad as I am 1406 to see these new ships pushed on, still I deprecate leaving any ships intended to be again used as ships of war for a long period in a state of complete disrepair. If their boilers are not fit to be used, new boilers ought to be put into them without any unreasonable delay. There is one other point upon which I wish to make a remark, and that is, to urge upon my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty the great necessity of discouraging the employment of men on overtime. Although I do not refer to them as an authority absolutely infallible, I have seen in the newspapers statements and remarks upon the employment of men on overtime in the Dockyards. I think the employment of men on overtime ought to be avoided. I do not believe that there is any source of extravagance more fruitful in disappointment and loss to the Public Service than a continuous employment on overtime. I am aware that there are occasions when it is absolutely unavoidable. A ship comes in for repair, and it is necessary to get her away rapidly, and overtime must be worked in order to get her away, and it is sometimes advisable to work overtime with machinery; but in ordinary, shipbuilding proceeding from day to day, and from week to week, in a work which would occupy three or four years, at least, going on in a steady and systematic way, overtime is a great mistake. I believe we do not get the full results of their labour from the men. They are not capable of giving it; and there is a disposition on the part of the men to exaggerate the amount of charge in a manner that is exceedingly detrimental to the Service. With these few remarks, again bearing my testimony and admiration to the manner in which the hon. Gentleman has discharged his duties, I will conclude by expressing a hope that the Vote will be accepted by the Committee.
§ SIR EDWARD REED
said, he could not help feeling that there was some disadvantage in the manner in which the Navy Estimates had been dealt with in the House, particularly with reference to Vote 1. They had now gone into Committee on Vote 1, and on Vote 1 alone. That Vote was for men; and it was inconvenient, he thought, to enter into a broad discussion on all branches of naval policy, and, at 1407 the same time, to enter into the details of Vote 1. When they were called upon to discuss important questions affecting every branch of the personnel of a great Public Service in this manner, he had found that many of the minor branches of the Public Service were liable to be passed over without that consideration which they clearly deserved, because hon. Members had to enter in Committee on a single Vote upon a broad discussion of the whole naval policy of the country. It would be better to take the general discussion before going into Committee. He could join the late First Lord of the Admiralty in bearing testimony to the admirable clearness and satisfactory nature of the Statement which had been made by the Secretary to the Admiralty; but they had not heard very much in the way of criticism from the Front Bench opposite, and, as a little criticism was not an unwholesome thing, he should venture to make one or two remarks, which would be not altogether in the way of approval of the proposals of the Government. In the first place, he could not help feeling that there were branches of the personnel of the Navy which had not received that consideration they were entitled to. It had come out in the course of the speech of his hon. Friend below him, and also in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that, as every one of them was perfectly well aware already, the engineers and artificers of the Navy were rising steadily in importance in the Public Service; and that they were, more and more, as events rolled on, supplanting other classes who before prevailed in the Naval Service. The naval engineers and artificers were increasing in number in the ships; and there was an increase also in the number of ships in which steam machinery was employed. Every extension of the Naval Service threw additional responsibility and power upon the Naval engineers. Take the case of the torpedo vessels, of which they had heard a little that night, although not so much as they might have heard, at any rate, with interest. Who were the men who had to take their lives in their hands and manœuvre and handle these boats? They were the naval engineers, and although he did not wish to underrate for a single moment the gallantry or ability of others on board these vessels, it must be felt that every- 1408 one who had to go into the close stoke-hole of a vessel constructed of stee1, 1–16th of an inch thick, within fire of the enemy, holding their lives at the disposal of every stray shot that might emanate from a machine gun, were men entitled, upon every ground, to every consideration the Admiralty could give them. But the engineers did not receive anything like the consideration they were entitled to in reference to their importance. In the figures which his hon. Friend had given, he had mentioned 9,000, and some additional hundreds of engineers and artificers in the Fleet; and he (Sir Edward Reed) thought the time had now come when the indisposition of all Boards of Admiralty to realize the great importance of this class, and the effect which any want of public spirit, or any want of encouragement might produce upon them, should be fully considered. He believed the time had fully come when it was necessary to demand from the Admiralty, on behalf of the engineers, a great deal more than the engineers themselves would think of demanding. He believed he was about to make a demand which, although it certainly would not be granted at once, would before long be granted—namely, that the Board of Admiralty itself should comprise within its numbers a naval engineer—a man acquainted with the necessities of this branch of the Service. They saw continually that this class and its interests were rising into public importance; but the Committee would be surprised to hear that the Board of Admiralty consisted now, and would consist for all eternity, if somebody in the House did not move an alteration, of one political Member and two or three admirals or captains. On the Board of Admiralty at the present day it was considered that there was no occasion for the presence of a single naval engineer. He certainly felt that the Board of Admiralty was the proper place for one, and it would not be until the Royal Naval Engineers were represented by a member of their own class upon the Board of Admiralty that they would obtain the consideration which they deserved. He might even put it on a higher consideration than the deserts of the naval engineers themselves—namely, the interests of the Public Service, which ran a great deal of risk at present from the want of sufficient com 1409 prehension on the part of the Admiralty of the wants of this branch of the Service. The Committee would be surprised to hear that, in the whole range of the Admiralty Office, there existed but one man who had ever served in the Royal Naval Engineers, and that one man was an out-door officer. This condition of things had only to be stated, and its error would be manifested. The present First Lord of the Admiralty was a highly accomplished and excellent administrator, and he trusted the noble Earl would ask himself whether the time had not arrived when the engineer officers in the Royal Navy should not be relieved from the odious disadvantages under which they laboured, as compared with the ordinary naval officers of the Service. At the present time they were not allowed to mess with the ordinary officers, or oven to sit at the same table with them; and it was deemed a favour to permit the chief inspector of machinery in the Navy to associate with the wardroom officers. This was a perfectly ridiculous position for men of high education and scientific attainments to occupy, and the time had arrived when all such separate messes ought to be abolished, and all the officers in the Navy placed on something like an equal footing. At present, the engineers of the Royal Navy might not be considered by some as an attractive class of officers; but if they were treated by the Admiralty as they ought to be, they would soon become everything that could be desired. He felt deeply on that point, because he was satisfied the Public Service would reap nothing but advantage if the change he proposed were carried out. Now, turning to the outline of the Naval programme which had been laid before the Committee, he thought the late First Lord of the Admiralty was well advised in not leading the Committee into any lengthened debate upon it, inasmuch as another opportunity for discussion would be afforded. He, however, wished to remark that the Committee were placed in rather a curious position with regard to the programme, because the Admiralty had told them just as much as they chose of their future intentions, and kept them altogether in the dark as to the rest. For instance, it had been stated last year by the late Government as well as by the present Naval Administration, that it was intended to build 1410 three new iron-clads—one at Portsmouth, one at Chatham, and another at Pembroke; and the House was required to vote the money for their construction. It now turned out, however, that while it was the function of the House to vote money for the construction of ships, it lay with the First Lord of the Admiralty to determine afterwards whether those ships should be built or not, and what kind of vessels they should be when built, and the Committee were told just as much about the matter as the Department pleased. The Government, therefore, put ships into their programme and took them out of it without saying one word about it to the Committee. He thought it right to take exception to this line of action. His own opinion was that some recent ships were of such a kind that the House would not have sanctioned their construction had they been fully informed with respect to them. Now the three iron-clads for which the House had been asked to vote money last year had disappeared altogether from the Naval programme for this year, and not a word of explanation had been offered on the subject.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
explained, that the Collingwood, which had been laid down by his right hon. Friend opposite at Pembroke, would represent one of those vessels, and the armed cruiser described by his hon. Friend represented another.
§ SIR EDWARD REED
thought the right hon. Gentleman had entirely mistaken his point. Apart from the Collingwood, there was last year a proposal to build two or three iron-clads. He said these proposals were made, and that these ships had been withdrawn without a single word being said upon the subject. He believed that what had been done was without any intention on the part of the Government of depriving the House of Commons of information. At any rate, his right hon. Friend would not make any objection to what he was about to say—namely, that they were now asked to vote money for the commencement of two new iron-clad ships, which, he presumed, would be of considerable importance, and that the Committee were not informed of what kind those ships would be. He had seen in the Tea Room of the House drawings hung up for the information of hon. Members of the House, and for the convenience of 1411 Departments, in relation to matters of far less moment than the expenditure of £500,000 or £750,000. When it was remembered that the whole period of the Conservative Administration had passed away without the Inflexible being completed, that she would not be completed for two months from the present time, and that her total cost might amount to more than £1,000,000, surely, if ships were to be built that would involve the country in perhaps a similar outlay, Parliament ought to be allowed to know what kind of ships they were to be. But it would appear, from what the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Trevelyan) had stated, that the First Lord would make up his mind on that point months after Parliament had voted the money. He congratulated the Committee on the intention of the Government at last to commence the construction of two ships which would deserve to bear the name of "iron-clads." So far as he could judge at present, they could not, like the Inflexible type, be destroyed without touching their armour; but they were very arge ships for cruisers. There was at the Admiralty his hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey), long a strenuous advocate for small cruisers; but when his hon. Friend came into power—his hon. Friend smiled at the idea of his having power, but everyone who had a seat at the Admiralty ought to have power—well, his hon. Friend came into power, and what did we get? A ship of 61 feet beam, 315 feet length, and 8,000 indicated horse power, to cost £400,000; and that was the embodiment of the beau ideal of a small ship, as concieved by his hon. Friend! Instead of getting smaller ships, we were getting very much larger ones than we had before. At the same time, however, the ship was to have a high rate of speed, and that high speed involved size—in the opinion of some people very considerable size. It underlay the principle of construction at the present day that we always, after starting with a fine ship, tried to see how much armour we could put on, and in that way the large size of our ships was gradually reached. The true course was to see with how small a ship certain armour and guns could be got to move at the required speed. As a Member of the House, he was extremely disappointed that his hon. Friend had not power enough at the Admiralty 1412 to add more small ships to the Navy. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had cast a little discredit upon the efforts of the present Administration for quickly completing the ships commenced by the late Government. He thought the present Government deserved the utmost credit for having pushed on ships that had been too long upon the stocks. Hon. Members would bear in mind that there had been some contention in that House, and much more in the public Press, as to the armament of the Shah. He was himself the designer of the first ship of the Shah type, and it was deemed advisable to put into that ship a battery of the most powerful guns of the day. Some men, however, came into Office at the Admiralty who took it into their heads to say that because the Shah was not an armoured ship she should not carry armour-piercing guns; and, in spite of the opinions of persons who were perfect masters of the subject, that House had been powerless to get them put into the vessel. But, if they looked into The Times of that day, they would see that after many years, and after the Shah had failed to destroy an opposing ship off the coast of South America, the Admiralty had come round to the view that she should be armed with powerful armour-piercing guns. This was an instance of the House being right and the Admiralty wrong. He did not consider it desirable, therefore, that the Committee should in any way be passed over in reference to public expenditure; while he thought it was desirable that they should look thoroughly into every proposal of new ships intended for the Public Service.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, so many subjects had been touched upon that he thought it desirable to defer some of the remarks he had to make until other Votes were reached. But with reference to the point as to the naval cadets, which the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty had alluded to, he thought some little injustice had been done to the memory of his late Friend, Mr. Ward Hunt, by not mentioning that it was in consequence of the Report of a Committee that the change in question had been made, and it was done, moreover, after proper discussion in the House. He was always in favour of a small number of naval cadets, and was sure that if the examination of boys of 15 was properly conducted, the competi- 1413 tion would yield the best lads for the Public Service. He understood that three nominations were to be given for every vacancy, and that the three lads nominated should compete inter se. He hoped some arrangement would be made under which the boys would not, on being taken away from a public school, be sent into the unhealthy atmosphere of a crammer's study. He believed, also, that a longer training after they were admitted to the Service would be advantageous. He had always thought that the age of 13 was too early at which to take boys away from the general course of education and give them a special education. A very famous Predecessor of his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith) in the representation of Westminster—he meant Lord Cochrane—did not enter the Navy until the age of 18, and certainly no naval officer had been distinguished by more excellent service. There were, no doubt, many occasions in the old wars of men who entered at an early age and did good service. But seeing that we now required such extreme efficiency in every subject, at a time when the brain was not sufficiently developed, he thought it better that lads should enter the Service a year or two later than 13 years of age. His hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff had alluded to the case of the naval engineers. He was not going to say that there should be an engineer at the Board of Admiralty. That might or might not be necessary. There was no reason, that he was aware of, why he should not be there. But he did not think it at all necessary, when discussing improvements in the position of the engineer class, to aim so high in a direction which might be impracticable. They had before them a Report of a Committee, of which the present First Sea Lord of the Admiralty was Chairman, and he expressed his surprise that the recommendations of that Committee had not been carried out in their entirety, seeing that they were all worthy of immediate attention. Some of the most important of these recommendations had not been carried out. He thought hon. Gentlemen opposite might urgently call the attention of the Board of Admiralty to the claims of these most useful and excellent officers. On Vote 13, the Vote for Retired Pay, he hoped to say a few words with reference to promotion in the 1414 Navy. He quite agreed with his right hon. Friend near him in saying that it was impossible to have sufficient promotion in the Navy if the upper List was small in proportion to the List below. There were two methods by which speedy promotion could be secured without greatly increasing the charge upon the Public Service. He had already alluded to one in suggesting that the number of naval cadets should be reduced—at any rate, he thought it would be admitted that the smaller the number of cadets the better it would be for promotion. Then coming to the class of lieutenants, it was quite certain that the number of officers in the Navy was based on the necessary number of lieutenants, of whom there were between 800 and 900, the great majority of whom were employed afloat, or in perfecting their education at the Royal Naval College. The upper rank of lieutenants ranked with majors in the Army, and many of them were performing duty as commanders or second officers of ships. All these might well be promoted to the rank of commander. It seemed to him that the number of commanders in the Navy should be considerably increased, while the number of lieutenants should be diminished prô tanto. By this means the number of the various officers would be equalized, and there would be a proper flow of promotion through the three ranks. Under this plan an increased charge to the public would hardly be possible, because the class of officers in command were receiving pay equal to that of commanders. He trusted, however, with the permission of the Committee, to go more closely into detail with regard to this subject on another occasion. He regretted that the number of iron-clads was not to be increased. With these facts before the House and the public, it seemed to him absolutely necessary for the service of the State, in order to protect our great lines of communication in time of war, that we should have 62 of these ships; and the Secretary to the Admiralty had just stated we had only 41. With regard to size, he confessed he did not care so much. Vessels of smaller size would satisfy the requirements for the protection of our five great lines of commerce; and until these were added to the Navy, he thought that the large ships proposed 1415 to be constructed, had better be postponed. Hon. Gentlemen who had paid attention to the subject know that the necessity for number of 62 iron-clads had been carefully verified. For cruising purposes the Admiralty knew where they could lay their hands upon about 50 merchant ships in time of war, which, when properly fitted, would be able to keep down privateers or any small vessels that might prey upon our commerce. He had heard, with some alarm, the proposal of the hon. Gentleman opposite that the country should rely upon the inexhaustible supply of men offered by the Merchant Navy. Now, the Merchant Navy had by no means an inexhaustible supply of men. It was, indeed, very much smaller than the Committee would, probably, believe. According to the Report which had been made, the Mercantile Navy had 82,474 able seamen and ordinaries. But of these, 16,070 were foreigners, and could not be relied upon in time of war; and of the remaining 66,404 men, 38,424 were unqualified, they having been guilty of various kinds of misconduct unfitting them for service in the Navy. Therefore, there remained only 27,986 seamen who could be depended upon. Of these 12,050 were in the first class, and 5,496 in the second class of the Royal Naval Reserve, the latter not being as good seamen as it was desirable to have. We could, rely, therefore, only upon 12,050 out of the 27,987 men at present serving in the British Mercantile Navy. The Committee would see that this was by no means an inexhaustible supply; and as, in the event of war, it was to be hoped that we should not be deprived of all our commerce, some of these men would still be required in the Merchant Navy. It was for that reason he doubted very much whether we had done wisely in reducing the number of boys for the Navy. The number now entered was 200 less than in the preceding year, there being only 4,700, as against 4,900. He believed that the number of entries had been accurately arranged for the supply of seamen; but he now understood the number had been reduced.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, the number to be entered had not been lowered since it was fixed by the late First Lord, and any deficiency now was due to the smaller number entered before the late 1416 First Lord made the arrangement. The number to be entered next year was to be equal to the number to be entered this year.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, at any rate, the number was 170 less than it was last year. The number of men had also been reduced by 623, as compared with last year, which, under the present circumstances, he regarded as unfortunate. He desired to press on the consideration of the Admiralty that, while allowing the number of men to be reduced, we were failing to take the necessary steps to train them. We had at this moment a large number of men who were not, in any sense, seamen. They had been taught as boys and brought up for the sea, it was true; but taking the analysis of Captain Wilson, which he believed was correct, there were 18,500 during the last year of the late First Lord's administration, of whom 10,500 were in sea-going ships, and 8,000 in harbour ships. Of those 18,500, 10,000 were under five years' service, and had only been 18 months at sea. Well, he would ask anyone who knew anything about the sea—any yachtsmen, of whom he saw some present—whether 18 months at sea was sufficient to make a man a sailor? He would take the next group of men, 4,270, with between five and ten years' service. They had been four and a-half years at sea, and no doubt those fellows were beginning to get their sea-legs. Then there were 2,600 men of between 10 and 15 years' service, who had been seven and a-half years at sea; 1,816 of between 15 and 20 years' service, who had been ten and a-half years at sea; and those were prime seamen, efficient in every respect. It was to the 10,000 men—more than half our seamen—who had only been 18 months at sea, that he wished to call particular attention; for he could not think that the circumstances of the case would be considered by the Committee at all satisfactory. It appeared to him that a step in the right direction had been taken by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) when in Office. The Cruiser, a sailing ship, had been fitted out, and employed in training the men at sea in the Miditerranean; and, in his (Sir John Hay's) opinion, it would be a a valuable thing to have attached to every iron-clad ship one or two tenders in which they could train men at sea— 1417 train them in reefing, and furling, and steering, and doing all the material duties of a sailor. In that way a man would get confidence, would be rendered muscular and agile, and valuable at the guns, in the boats, or elsewhere. He was fully alive to the difficulty of this subject; but they required their iron-clads to be at sea occasionally to teach the officers how to manage them, and unless they also sent the sailors to sea in the class of ship where they would get the best training, the men would have none of the qualifications to which sailors looked forward in order to be distinguished and useful. It was necessary for a sailor to have quickness of eye and readiness of hand, in order to make him valuable on board ship; and those acquirements were to be best obtained in the ordinary work and routine of a sailing vessel. On this subject he might mention to the Committee a statement of a gallant officer whom they all respected very much—namely, Captain Shaw, Chief of the Fire Brigade, who, in giving evidence before a Committee of this House, some years back, declared that until within a period of about 10 years ago, he always chose for the London Fire Brigade men who had been in the Navy; but, he said, he did not take them now because they had lost those particular qualifications for which he used to select them. That was impartial evidence, and would tend to show that it was not from a desire to criticize unduly or to embarrass the Government that he brought the subject forward at the present time. He had mentioned the matter on several former occasions, and he was sure it was well worthy the attention of the Committee, which, he trusted, would urge on Her Majesty's Government the desirability of endeavouring, by some means or other, to give the best possible training to the seamen in Her Majesty's Service. They had already gone to considerable expense to give the sailors a good education; but he maintained that to keep them in harbour for a considerable number of years prevented them from acquiring that activity and resource and courage which was to be acquired on board a sailing ship, handling the masts and yards, and which was so valuable to a sailor in the exercise of his profession. He would strongly press that subject on the attention of the hon. 1418 Gentleman opposite. The hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey), knew the necessities of the case as well as he (Sir John Hay) knew them, and no doubt the hon. Member would do all in his power to obtain the necessary improvement in the training of our seamen. He heard the hon. Member, if he was not mistaken, speak upon the subject when he sat on the Opposition side of the House, and he was quite sure the hon. Gentleman shared with him the belief that there was a great change necessary in the training of our sailors. He would not take up any more of the time of the Committee just now upon naval matters; but he ventured to make this suggestion, and trusted that the few words he had spoken as to the importance of properly training seamen would not be lost sight of.
§ MR. MACLIVER
hoped to see the day when the Naval and Military Services would be dealt with upon other than political considerations. Like the hon. Member who had just sat down, he took considerable interest in the naval engineers, and every word which had fallen from the hon. Member for Cardiff with regard to those officers he cordially endorsed. The engineers had a strong claim upon them, and it should be immediately recognized. Admiral Sir Astley Cooper Key had reported upon that subject, and his recommendation should be adopted, and, like the hon. Member for Reading, he trusted this question would not be looked upon as a personal matter. The position of those officers was almost of more importance than an increase in their pay. In 1877, hon Members who sat on the Treasury Bench interested themselves on the point, and he did not suppose they were less sincere now than they were then. What the engineers asked was not merely a money question. They were a patriotic and intelligent body of men; and one of them, in order to remove any impression as to the question of pay affecting their sentiments, had written to the effect that he did not look upon this as a personal matter. The efficiency of the Navy, he said, was of far higher importance to every Englishman than the question of whether or not a certain class were properly paid; but it was necessary, in order to secure that efficiency, that the engineer officers should be placed in such a position of authority and command as 1419 to enable them to exercise proper control over the magnificent and costly machinery committed to their care.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he had listened in common with the rest of the Committee, he believed, to the very clear and lucid Statement made by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty with great attention. His only regret was that it was not so good in matter as it was in manner, for there were some grounds on which he must ask to be allowed to take exception to the statement made by the hon. Gentleman. It had been his fate for a great many years to try to persuade the House of Commons to take a different, and what he would term a more enlightened, view of the position and requirements of the British Navy. He was bound to admit this, that up to the present he had been entirely unsuccessful in his efforts; and he could assure the Committee if he thought he was only attempting to urge upon them his own individual opinions, he should not trouble them with a repetition of the case he had already presented to Parliament. But his belief and his knowledge were such—and there were many in the House and thousands out of it who concurred in the view which he ventured to take as to the inadequate condition of the British Navy—that he was induced once more to make an attempt to secure the attention of the Committee to the subject. Now, the points upon which he had formerly attempted to dwell were these. He had contended that the country was not sufficiently supplied with line-of battle ships; and he was glad to find his opinion on that point confirmed by his hon. and gallant Friend near him (Sir John Hay), than whom, perhaps, there was no higher authority on this question. They had no reserve of heavy iron-clads in the event of casualties in action. The hon. and gallant Gentleman agreed also with him, and bore out his opinion as to the unsatisfactory number of men about to be proposed as the means of supplying the necessary draft in the Navy. The questions of ships and men went together, for if they had a certain number of ships they would want so many men to man them; and his contention was that they had not now, and had not had for many years, a sufficient number of ships for the requirements of the Public Service, more especially line-of-battle ships. 1420 He would ask the Committee to suppose that the time might come when they would be called upon to take part in a great naval battle. Let them suppose that a great disaster ensued to the British arms, what would be the result? In order to avoid that, they wanted a larger number of ships of two classes. In the first place, they wanted ships in which to train their men and make sailors of them, because it was impossible to make a man a sailor on board a steamer. Take the best man in the world and put him on board a steamer, keep him there for a few years, and then transfer him to a ship where the qualities of a seaman were indispensable, and they would find him no more useful than a landsman. They must put a man under canvas to make him really valuable for the Service. They must, therefore, have a certain number of cruising ships for the sole purpose of training the sailors, and converting the rough material into really good and efficient men. He admitted we had been unfortunate lately with our sailing ships, and had lost two cruisers which we had sent to sea for the sole purpose of making sailors of our men; but that was no reason why we should be discouraged. If we had not got the ships in the Service, then we must build them; but, whatever we did, we must not neglect to have a supply of these vessels, for they were absolutely necessary for the naval supremacy of this country. With regard to this question of the Navy, the people of this country seemed to live in a sort of paradise—he would not say what sort of paradise—in the matter. They seemed to think that at no time, and under no circumstances, could this country be possibly engaged in a great war—a war that might vastly affect our own position, and even our existence. Such a time might come; and if ever it did, he contended that the first requirement of this country, after a reserve of fighting ships, would be a sufficient number of cruisers—first, for the protection of our own commerce; and, secondly, for the purpose of harassing the Navy and commerce of our enemy, whoever it might be. He thought he could show that if the Navy of this country had been, up to the present time, insufficient for the service of the country, the condition of things, within the past 12 years, was such as to make that defi- 1421 ciency much greater than it was formerly, and that it was more than ever incumbent on the House of Commons to devote itself to the question of improving the efficiency of the British Navy. Let them suppose for a moment that the lamentable event to which he had referred, but which the Admiralty never seemed to contemplate for an instant, occurred—namely, that a disaster to our Navy occurred, and war was brought into our own country; and supposing that, and contemplating the result that might ensue, he would ask the Committee whether the reasons were not sufficient to make it more than incumbent on this country to render ourselves thoroughly masters of the sea? We had had forced upon us the sad conviction that, in spite of the brilliant strategy of our generals, and the unflinching gallantry of our officers and soldiers, our Army was not numerically equal to the services it was called upon to perform. There was no denying or flinching from that fact. The fact, then, of the inefficient condition of our Army made it more than ever indispensable that the Navy of the country should be supreme at sea. But there was still, if possible, a stronger argument in favour of our having our Navy in the highest state of efficiency to meet the requirements of the country in point of numbers. The Committee could not have lost sight of the fact that, for a long time, this country had been dependent for her supply of corn upon foreign markets. The present depression in our agricultural industry increased that dependency to a very large extent, and increased also the dangerous position of this country in the event of our foreign supply being jeopardized in any way. As a consequence of the agricultural depression a large area of the soil was going out of cultivation, and in the future we should even be more dependent on outside supply than we were now. Therefore, unless we had complete command over the sea, in the event of a serious war, the result might be utter starvation. It was, beyond everything, necessary for us to keep open our communications with other countries, so that we might procure the food that was indispensable to our existence. These, he ventured to think, were considerations which should not be lost sight of in any assemblage of Eng- 1422 lishmen, much less by the British House of Commons; and he complained that, up to the present, there had apparently been a total want of interest in the question. In conclusion, he would say, as he had said at the beginning, that if he believed his view of the subject was an individual opinion, and was not joined in by anyone else, he would not press it upon the Committee; but that was not the fact, for a great many high authorities agreed with him, and he trusted that, ere long, some voice more powerful than his would be heard bringing the matter more clearly home to the English people.
§ MR. BROADHURST
wished to express his great disappointment in not hearing, in the Statement that night, of any improvement in the position of the engineers. He had certainly listened to the speech of the hon. Gentleman from beginning to end, for the purpose of hearing him make some concessions by way of improving the position of the engineers. He thought that no argument in favour of that improvement could be proposed of a stronger nature than that used by the Secretary to the Admiralty himself tonight, when he showed the large proportion of skilled artizans on board our great fighting vessels in comparison with the number of bluejackets—by which, he presumed, were meant the ordinary sailors. They had to recognize this fact, that the fighting vessels were every year becoming more and more great floating factories of mechanical engineering, and the consequence was that the position of the men who worked the vast and complicated machinery of our iron-clads, and without whom they would be absolutely powerless, should be recognized by the authorities, and their status on board the ships considerably improved. He sincerely hoped that at some time tonight the hon. Gentleman would say that he had overlooked the question of improving the position of the engineers, but would rectify the mistake before the Estimates were disposed of. If the hon. Gentleman was unable even to do that, he trusted that he would give the Committee a definite promise that the claims of the engineers would be looked into at no distant date. He (Mr. Broadhurst) was sure the engineers would feel as deeply indebted to the hon. Member for Cardiff as he did himself for the admir- 1423 able manner in which the hon. Gentleman had placed their claims before the Committee. If it had not been for the admirable manner in which the hon. Gentleman had brought forward their case, he (Mr. Broadhurst) would have had a great deal more to say on behalf of them. He held that the position of the artificers in connection with men-of-war would have to be taken into Consideration, and that at no distant date, and when the matter was brought forward he would have to draw attention to another section of their complaint. He would raise a new question on Vote 6; but, in the meantime, he only wished to express a hope that the Secretary to the Admiralty would tell them that he had forgotten to make the promise which they had all expected of him as to bettering the condition of the engineers.
§ MR. T. C. BRUCE
had only a word to add to the considerable arguments which had been addressed to the Committee in favour of improving the position of the engineers. Those who had to do with industrial occupations in the country were aware how engineers had increased in importance of late years, and how valuable their services had become, and how they were appreciated in other places than the Royal Navy. The result of the advances which had been made of recent years in the science of engineering in connection with shipping, had been that not only a large number of men now entered that branch of the Service, but that many of them entered the Mercantile Marine, and the service of other countries, where the payments they received were far greater than those they obtained under Her Majesty's Government. No doubt the Engineer Department of the Navy had now become so popular, that it was possible to procure a sufficient number of men; but the object of the Admiralty should not only be to secure a sufficient number, but to secure the best men of that class for Her Majesty's ships. No doubt, the intricacy of the machinery, the immense importance of its preservation, and the difficulty of its repair, made the engineers of the Navy more responsible than they were in the largest ships of the Merchant Service, and it was, therefore, to be hoped that the Admiralty would consider the whole position of the scientific force. He did not know whether he would go so far as the hon. Member for Cardiff; 1424 but, at any rate, he trusted the matter would be considered, and that the Admiralty would do all they could to secure the services of the very best engineers they could employ. Some suggestions had been made with regard to that matter years ago, which seemed perfectly reasonable, and he confessed he regretted that the Admiralty had never thought fit to adopt them. There was one point in the speech of the hon. Gentleman that he had not understood, and perhaps it was his own fault that the point had failed to reach him. The hon. Gentleman had made some allusion to the continuous service in the Navy, and had stated it was in contemplation to have an Inquiry into it, consisting of three financiers and one naval officer. Well, he wished to point out, that although financiers might be admirable gentlemen, they had a weakness, and would be inclined to look at the cost of a thing rather than to its efficiency—they would be rather inclined to look at a diminution of expense than at the desirability of increasing the value of the article. The Naval Force was as fine a body of men as it was possible to meet with, and he thought they should be very jealous of allowing it to deteriorate, and in that he was sure the hon. Gentleman who had brought forward the Estimates would agree with him. We had to depend upon that force for the immediate defence of our country. The Navy was not a thing which we could bring up and make fit for use at a moment's notice—it was not a thing the deficiencies and faults of which we could repair in a day if it were required for instant action. The Navy, both men and ships, must be ready for use at once, and, in order to have it ready, we must have the vessels properly fitted and the men properly trained. The question was one of vital interest to the country.
§ MR. JENKINS
said, he had heard with some disappointment the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Trevelyan's) statement as to the building of those two or three very large armoured cruisers. For his own part, he should have preferred to hear that it was the intention of the Admiralty to build six or eight small ships, which would be just as effective in time of peace, and a great deal more so in time of war; because we must remember that we had not only our own commerce to protect, but, in the event of a war, 1425 the commerce of our enemy to destroy. The more ships we had in time of war to destroy the fleet and the commerce of an enemy the better. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir John Hay), than whom there was no greater authority in the House or in the country, had referred to the training of seamen; and if a dozen of such ships as he was referring to were built, and formed into two flying squadrons, we should then have such a nursery for the training of seamen as would be found most invaluable. Some people were of opinion that neither boys nor men could be properly trained unless they were sent to sea in sailing ships; but he believed that a greater mistake than that was never made. It was an entire fallacy. He believed that in vessels where they had auxiliary steam power—where they could either put the ships under canvas or steam—they had the most efficient description of ship in the world for the training of officers, or men, or boys. What necessity, he would ask, was there for crowding 300 or 400 men into a small training ship, say, of 3,000 or 4,000 tons? It was absurd. An Admiral of the Fleet (Admiral Sir Thomas Symonds) had condemned that class of training ship, either for the use of men or boys; and it was to be hoped that we had seen the last of commissioning ships of an obsolete class propelled by sailing alone. In time of war such vessels as those were entirely useless; whereas ships of the kind he recommends would be very serviceable, besides being invaluable for the training of men and boys during a time of peace. In case of war, or when at peace, such vessels would form very valuable auxiliaries to the Fleet. With regard to what had fallen from the late First Lord of the Admiralty as to converted ships, his experience had been that such vessels always ended in disappointment. The Estimate given for conversions was generally exceeded by one-half, or by 100 per cent; therefore, he thought the Government had acted wisely in deciding not to spend money in converting those iron-clads. As to the torpedo system, he thought that if they were to have men to handle the torpedoes with the coolness and judgment necessary, they must have a class of sailors on board the boats as efficient and highly-trained as they could get them. Unless the seamen were tho- 1426 roughly trained during the time of peace, when they were wanted on active service in any emergency, or any great danger, they would utterly fail us. Nothing but experience, as everyone knew, would enable a seaman to do that which we had a right to expect of him in a case of emergency. In the future stages of the discussion on these Votes he should have a word or two to say; but now he would confine himself to these few observations, and to expressing his satisfaction at the able Statement of the hon. Gentleman; and he only hoped that the advice so ably given by the hon. Member for Cardiff would be followed, and that the plans of the iron-clad ships in course of construction would be circulated amongst hon. Members, in order to enable them to form an opinion as to those vessels.
§ CAPTAIN PRICE
said, the discussion had covered such a large field that it was impossible for any individual to go over the whole of the ground, nor was it his intention to do so to-night. He only wished to offer a few observations; and, in the first place, he did not quite understand the statement made by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Trevelyan) with regard to the entry of boys. It appeared to him there was no doubt they were to be 700 men short this year of what they were last year. He was not quite clear whether it was intended there should be an actual reduction of boys, or whether the number was to remain as it was last year. This should be made quite clear. He thought that unless the entry of boys was slightly increased the number of men next year, or the year after, would be still further reduced. No doubt, one reason which would partially account for the deficiency in the number of men was the loss of the Atalanta, by which they were deprived of the services of 220 men; but there did not seem to him to be any attempt made on the part of the Admiralty to replace those men. If they were to replace them they must, of course, introduce some more boys into the Estimates now. Attention had been called to that question of boys very particularly; but he did not think that what had been said had been yet answered by the hon. Gentleman. No doubt, the hon. Member would have an opportunity of giving the necessary answer later on. He was a good deal impressed with what the right hon. and gallant Admiral (Sir John Hay) had said as to the number of 1427 men in the Merchant Service that the Admiralty would have to draw upon in a time of emergency. That had been called an inexhaustible source of supply; but, according to the best authorities, when the Naval Reserve, some 18,000 men, had been drawn, they would only then have something like 6,000 able seamen in the Merchant Service to draw upon. [Sir JOHN HAY: We should have 27,000 men altogether.] Therefore, there would be 9,000 able-bodied men to draw upon from the Mercantile Marine, and surely that could not be considered a large reservoir from which to draw the necessary reserves. He had before, on more than one occasion, expressed his opinion that there ought to be some system of interchange between the Royal Naval Service and the Merchant Service; and he had really heard no answer to the recommendation he had made, and the arguments by which he had supported it. His proposal was that a certain number of men, after serving some years in the Navy, and becoming able seamen, should be allowed to go upon furlough into the Merchant Service. The effect of that would be that they would be able largely to increase the number of men; at least 5,000 men could be rendered available by that system. He would suggest that the time the men were allowed to work in the Merchant Service—say two years—should count for all pensions; but, of course, whilst the men were away their pay would cease, for they would be receiving what was generally supposed to be a somewhat higher pay from private employers. He was not sure that they would be able to get in that way so many as 5,000 men; but, at any rate, they would be able to get a large number, because many men would like the temporary change into the Merchant Service, where they would receive slightly higher pay; and, although the advantages to the country would be great, the cost would be little or nothing except prospectively in the matter of pensions. On this Vote it was customary for hon. Members to touch on all matters relating to the personnel of the Navy. He was rather diffident in what he had to say on those matters, as they had been warned by the Secretary of the Admiralty that he had laid down as a principle, that in all matters of pay and redress of grievances, hon. Members who brought those matters before the 1428 House of Commons must remember that, after all, the question was one of the market value of the men whose claims they were bringing forward—that it was a question altogether of supply and demand. Well, no doubt, that was a sound principle to a certain extent; but he did not think it was altogether a principle upon which the Committee ought to go. He would illustrate what he meant in this way. A good deal had been said this evening about the grievances of the medical officers, which the Admiralty were about to redress. Here, clearly, was a matter of supply and demand. The Medical Profession, from its very nature, from the etiquette that prevailed in it, from a sort of freemasonry that existed amongst its members, was able at any time to bring pressure to bear on the Department on a question of this kind. Medical men had only to say amongst themselves they felt it undesirable for young medical practitioners to enter the Navy, because the inducements held out were not sufficient, and the supply at once ceased. The Medical Profession had thus a powerful lever in their hands, and they had certainly used it on former occasions—they had used it lately; and now as a result they were going to have their grievances redressed. But would it do for that system to be carried on in all branches of the Service? For instance, when the engineers represented their grievances to the Committee, would it do to tell them this—"The best thing you can do is to persuade your friends who may think of joining the Engineer Department of the Service, not to take the step at present, as the inducements held out are not sufficient—stop the supply and then you will get what you want?" He did not think that course would be a right one to take; but, at any rate, that was the principle which the argument of supply and demand would suggest. It naturally struck him as being the best thing to do. He had been struck by the fact that the case of the engineers had formed a leading part in the debate, nearly every hon. Member who had spoken having referred to that subject. It was natural for them to do so, if only from the conspicuous absence of any reference to the condition of the engineers in the speech of the Secretary to the Admiralty; and also because, since 1875, the engineers had been waiting to hear 1429 whether the recommendations of Admiral Cooper Key's Committee were to be carried out. He did not want to go into the details of this matter; but five or six years ago, it was distinctly stated that the steps then being taken for the amelioration of the engineer officers were only an instalment. After five or six years it was high time that there should be another instalment, and he thought this matter was really deserving of the greatest attention. So little had been done towards the fulfilment of the recommendations of the Committee, that it was not too much to say that not one-fourth of them had been carried out. There were many points that had not been touched at all; and he could not help pointing out one small detail which appeared to be almost absurd. Under the present regulations, chief engineers were allowed to count their junior time for pensions after having served 11 years in the rank of chief engineer. The average age at which an engineer officer was promoted to being chief engineer was between 40 and 45—as a matter of fact, nearer 45—and he was compulsorily retired at 55. What, then, was the good of telling a man at 45, that if he served 11 years he might count his junior time, when he was also told that at 55 he must leave the Service? If he was fortunate enough to be made chief engineer at 44, he could by serving every minute of his time just secure his pension. That showed the ridiculous manner in which the matter had been treated. Then with regard to navigating officers. The question of the market value did not apply to them, because we were not getting any more of that class. The principle had been changed, and we now drew navigating officers from the sub-lieutenants and lieutenants. As to the old navigators, who were abolished some years ago, he hoped that the Admiralty would find some means of compensating them for the loss of their appointments; for although it was quite true that there were not so many of them unemployed now as there were in former years, they were being replaced by a great number of qualified lieutenants. As a matter of fact, there were at the present time 40 lieutenants employed in navigating duties, and thus 40 navigating officers were out of employment. He believed that, some years ago, the prin- 1430 ciple had been laid down that the number of navigating officers of all kinds ought to be 250. There were now 58 in excess of that number, and no less than 60 were on half-pay. If the 40 lieutenants he had referred to had not been placed on navigating duties, 40 of those 60 would not now be unemployed. He was not going to express his opinion of the regulations; but as they had been approved of, and the navigating officers were being displaced, he thought it only right to ask for compensation and good retirement grants for them. He was glad to hear that the case of the Marines would be dealt with. The Committee were asked not to say much about that matter at present, because they were told that the mouth of the spokesman of the Admiralty was, to a certain extent, shut. The matter, they were told, was under consideration, and they were to shut their eyes and open their mouths and see what would be put into them. If they did that, the matter would be settled at the Admiralty; and when they were told what had been done, it would be too late to say anything about it. The late First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. W. H. Smith) had expressed a hope that the Marines were to have proportionate advantages to those proposed for the Army. He did not quite like that suggestion. They were told they must not draw a parallel between the two Services, and that the Marines had advantages which the Army had not. That was a new doctrine altogether to him, and had only recently cropped up. How was it they were only now told the Marines had advantages which the Army had not? The advantage seemed to be that they had permanent barracks when they were at home. That had never been heard of years ago, although the question had not altered in any way. As a matter of fact, the Marines had always had that advantage over the Army; and, considering the character of the two Services, he thought it was only right that they should have it. The Marine was, as a rule, an older man and of longer service and of better physique than the Line soldier—he was better all round, and worth more than the Line soldier. But now it was said that the pay of the Marines was not to be assimilated to that of the Army, because they had the advantage of the permanent home. They had no more a permanent home than the 1431 Guards, and, indeed, not so much. The Marines were at least half their time at sea; and although they had barracks to go to when they came home, the Guards had that permanently. At all events, he hoped that this question of the Marines would be dealt with in a generous and satisfactory manner. He also hoped that the officers of Marines would be dealt with on the same lines as the officers in the Army. He understood from the speech of the Secretary of State for War that a very great increase was to be made in the number of field officers in the Army, each battalion having two lieutenant-colonels and four majors—that was, an additional lieutenant-colonel and two majors. If that principle was carried out in the Marines, it would give them 24 majors in addition. In 1884 there would be 25 captains of Marines compulsorily retired; but if the Marines had 24 additional majors, there would be only one retired, and there would be 24 live majors, costing the country £300 in place of 24 dead captains costing the country £275 a-year. That was a matter which he put forward as typical, and he hoped the case of those officers would be duly considered. The Statement of the Secretary to the Admiralty on the whole showed that, although we were not to have as efficient a Navy as most of us would like to see, the programme was not a bad one. He should like, however, to see more ships in the Navy.
§ MR. T. BRASSEY
said his hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan) had drawn in fair line a sketch of the policy which the Government were now proposing, and he only ventured to interpose in order to supply a few additional details. He thought the Government had no reason to complain of the tone in which the Estimates had been discussed. The right hon. Gentleman the late First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. W. H. Smith) had remarked that the whole of the interest in the Navy Estimates for the ensuing year was absorbed in ship-building expenditure. He ventured to say that it was to the matériel, rather than to the personnel, that it was most important that they should address themselves. Then the right hon. Gentleman referred to the diminished expenditure in regard to repairs by contract. There could be no doubt that it might be desirable, under certain circumstances, in order to meet pressure or emergency, to call in the 1432 assistance of contractors; but such a step must necessarily be expensive, the labour employed by contractors being much more expensive than that of ordinary labour in the Dockyard. Therefore, he thought the system of repairs by contractors should only be resorted to in exceptional circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman had also expressed his regret that one or two vessels were not included in the programme for repairs. He (Mr. Brassey) wished it was possible to keep every ship at all times in a perfect state of repair; but, in view of any possible emergency which might arise at the present time, he thought the ships were in a full state of preparation. There would be completed and ready to send to sea in the present year no less than 10 iron-clads, I frigate, 24 corvettes, 15 sloops, 19 gun-vessels, 2 paddle-boats, and I survey-vessel; and he thought that represented a force sufficient to meet any emergency that might arise. The right hon. Gentleman had characterized the policy of having recourse to overtime. So far as the Admiralty proposed to have recourse to overtime, they were following the advice of those high officers in the Navy who had had the greatest experience in those matters; and it was only proposed to resort to overtime to a very limited extent. He understood from those who had had the most practical experience in those matters, that there were machines used in the construction and repair of ships which it was sometimes advantageous to keep in motion for a longer time than the ordinary Dockyard hours. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that it was not intended to resort to the extravagant and unsatisfactory practice of employing labour for a length of time which involved expense and was not conducive to economy. The hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Reed) had spoken with satisfaction of the change that was about to be made in the armament of the Shah; and when he remembered the controversy between the hon. Member and others who did not share his views with reference to the armament of that vessel formerly, he thought it was a matter for congratulation that the Admiralty were enabled, by the great improvements that were taking place in modern gunnery, to give to such large and noble ships that power of fighting which 1433 it was very desirable they should possess. With regard to the engineer officers in the Navy, he was sure that the immense importance of their duties in the modern Navy was appreciated. With ships of complex structure, armed with guns mounted upon mechanical carriages, and worked by hydraulic gear, and containing an infinite number of steam-engines carrying out almost all the important work on the ship, it was obvious that the engineers had acquired a position of immense importance; and he could assure hon. Members who had spoken on the subject that there was no disposition on the part of the present Board of Admiralty to deny what was just to the engineers. A great deal had been done to improve their position in late years. Some points had been alluded to by his hon. and gallant Friend opposite with which he, as a sea officer, knew it was very difficult to deal. But, in saying that it was difficult to deal with them, he (Mr. Brassey) did not mean that the Admiralty ought not to make an effort to meet the just claims of those officers; but when the hon. Member referred to the question of cabin space, he must have known that he was dealing with a subject of a very difficult nature. The late Government had instituted a very improved system of training for the engineers; and he ventured to hope that that would be regarded, to some extent, as a real and lasting benefit to the class of officers for whose benefit it was intended. Of late years the tendency had been to advance materially the position of the engineer officers, and he could not doubt that that tendency would continue in the future. He thought, however, it was the duty of those who were responsible for the administration of the Naval Service to take care that the number of those officers, who were already receiving considerable emoluments, did not exceed the strict requirements of the Service; and he observed, by a comparison of numbers from year to year, that while the increase in the number of engineers had not been very marked, there had been a very great increase in the number of engine-room artificers. The claims of those men to an improved position were constantly pressed upon the Admiralty, and he had no doubt they would have to recognize those claims. It was by a combination between the engineer officer in command and the 1434 skilled engineer under his orders that the duties of the engine-room could best be conducted; and he felt confident that the movement in regard to the men in the engine-rooms would lead to the improvement they desired. With regard to the pensions of the engineers, that was, no doubt, one form in which their services could be rewarded; but there were various other forms of stimulating their zeal and efficiency. Those points would have to be considered, and a decision ought not to be hastily arrived at. In answer to the numerous demands which had been made on them, the Board had said they did not think it was wise for a Government, as soon as it acceded to Office, to make considerable changes in the scales of pay and pensions; and he did not think it would be fair and right that it should go forth to the artificers employed in the Dockyards that they might look for some improvement of pay as soon as a change took place in the Government of the country. Such an idea would interfere most seriously with the spirit of loyalty which ought to animate the Service, and he did not think it ought to be encouraged. The hon. Member for Cardiff had criticized, as it was natural he should, the ship-building policy of the Admiralty. He did not deprecate that criticism; on the contrary, he was thankful for it, and he considered that his hon. Friend was doing a public duty in criticizing the Admiralty, even with severity; and certainly he should not venture to enter on the task of meeting his hon. Friend on a controversy on professional matters; but, so far as he could supply information on the points raised, he should endeavour to do so. The Secretary to the Admiralty had drawn attention to one prominent feature in that policy. That was the unprecedented speed of 16 knots an hour, which it was proposed that the armoured cruisers which had been designed under the instructions of the present Board, and the high speed of the four Leanders projected under the late Board, should attain. No demonstration could be needed to show the great importance of strengthening the British Navy with vessels of great speed. He remembered Sir Spencer Robinson saying, in his speech on Mr. Barnaby's Paper on the Nelson—Here, and repeatedly, I have spoken warmly about the speed of our ships; it is the question of all which I have most insisted on.1435 The Admiralty were now proposing to make a serious effort to strengthen the Navy with fast ships, which were necessary to the protection of British commerce, and they hoped their proposal would be regarded only as an instalment of what they hoped to accomplish. The hon. Member for Cardiff had only one really serious criticism with regard to the armoured ship. He said she was too costly. Well, he (Mr. Brassey) regretted that she was so costly; but the Admiralty had done their best to obtain technical advice on the subject, and it seemed to be inevitable that she should be costly; and it might be of interest to the Committee to have a few figures, in which he would make a comparison between the armoured cruiser which the present Board were proposing, and the last armoured cruisers which had been completed—the Nelson and the Northampton. The displacement of the new armoured cruiser was, he believed, within a few tons the same as the displacement of the Nelson and the Northampton. The cost of the Nelson was £278,000. In the new vessel £20,000 had to be added for the additional cost of the steel-faced armour, and £10,000 represented the additional cost of substituting copper for the zinc sheathing of the Nelson. Those additions made a total of £308,000, as compared with £278,000 for the Nelson. The total estimate for the cruiser was £325,000; and he understood that the additional sum was due to the great cost of the torpedo fittings, for the machine guns, and the more expensive character of the labour caused by the ship being built of steel. He thought he might fairly say of the new cruiser, that in the design a great stride had been made in naval architecture. She was designed for the protection of commerce; to be a terror to slower and less formidable vessels; and looking to the fact that she had a speed of 16 knots an hour, and a powerful armament, elevated above the water, distributed en barbette instead of two batteries or a crowded central battery, and had six light armour-piercing guns under cover on the main-deck, and a considerable number of machine guns and torpedoes, with ample room for the accommodation of a large crew when at sea, he ventured to say that she possessed a combination of features, some of them of a novel character, which it 1436 gave the Admiralty great satisfaction to have the privilege of bringing under the notice of the Committee. With reference to the manning of the Navy, that could be presented from a variety of points of view; and, perhaps, he might be able to give a few figures which would complete the Statement made by his hon. Friend. He understood that the total number proposed for the Service for the ensuing year was 35,200, as against 35,700 last year, and 35,150 for the two preceding years. The number of seamen now proposed would equal the average number provided in the four years from 1875 to 1879; and he thought a comparison of figures established the fact that the number of seamen was not being diminished, but that it was proposed to maintain the average for a considerable number of years. While the number of seamen remained stationary, the number of the non-seamen class showed a marked increase. The total of that class was, he believed, in 1865, 10,047; but now we had 11,731; and, no doubt, in the Steam-Navy a constant increase. Taking the seamen and the non-seamen class together, by comparing the totals for the last five years, there was an aggregate increase from 29,125, in 1875, to 30,988 for the ensuing year. For the last year, the total number was 31,433. He quite admitted the force of what his right hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Sir John Hay) had said with regard to the accumulation of seamen in the home ports; but he must remind the Committee that the accumulation was not due to a reduction in the number of seamen in the ships in commission. On the 1st May, the total complement of the ships in commission was 33,755, and on the 1st February last, 33,649, which was practically the same figure. He looked upon the training of the Navy with the deepest interest, and he fully realized the essential importance of giving our seamen an adequate portion of time at sea. The system of training was, he believed, in its initial stages, perfect; but there was reason to regret the considerable delay occasioned in passing boys into sea-going ships. The Admiralty were doing their best to reduce the period of detention in the harbour. The Flying Squadron afforded the best means of training boys for the Navy, and the Admiralty had sent a 1437 powerful fleet, on an extended voyage, under the command of Lord Clanwilliam. The Estimates now proposed included a list of ships for cruising under sail; and he thought he might give an assurance that the question of training would be watched with the greatest care, and if it should be found necessary, an additional vessel would be commissioned for that purpose. With regard to the Royal Naval Reserve, to which his right hon. Friend had referred, since 1868 it had an average strength of 15,705, and at the present time there was a large increase on the average of many years, and an increasing number of prime seamen were trying to enrol themselves in the Reserve. The Admiralty had watched with great interest the question of training merchant seamen, and they had been accustomed to hear deplorable accounts of the deterioration in that class of seamen. He was glad, however, to be able to say that the interest which the public and shipowners had taken in the improvement of merchant seamen had begun to take effect, and he had received, a few days ago, a report of a meeting of shipowners at Liverpool in connection with the management of sailors, at which a number of shipowners of high authority concurred in the opinion that a distinct change and improvement had taken place in the character of our merchant seamen. He hoped the advance already made in the numbers and efficiency of the Naval Reserve would continue, and that should there be any necessity for increasing the strength of the Reserve, they would find no difficulty in doing so.
§ MR. T. BRASSEY
said, he had only seen a Parliamentary Paper on the subject, and on looking at the last Report he found that the Second Class of the Reserve was satisfactory. It was not pretended that the character of these men was the same as the men of the First Class Reserve. There was one or two collateral points to which, in justice to the Navy, he wished to refer. In the first place, he would remind the Committee of the numerous services which were rendered by the Navy outside the strict line of their duty. In the recent gales the services of the Coastguard in saving life were conspicuous; and during 1438 the last five years the number of lives saved by the gallant exertions of the Coastguard were numbered by many hundreds. Another service which ought to be mentioned was that of our surveying officers. They were promoting and facilitating navigation in every quarter of the globe. The Reports of the Hydrographer for the past year, which had been laid on the Table of the House, contained a statement of the work which had been done in the last 12 months, reflecting the greatest credit on our surveyors. They had been at work on our own coasts, in the Sea of Marmora, in the West Indies, in Fiji, in the Pacific, on the coast of Newfoundland, in Queensland, China, and Japan; and, at the present time, a survey was being carried on in the Straits of Magellan and the channels leading to the Gulf of Penas, which promised the most useful results in enabling ships to double the continent of South America in sheltered waters, and thus avoid the high seas experienced in more Southern latitudes. With regard for the necessity for additional lights on the great highway to the East, arrangements were now in progress for placing lights at Melita and in the Red Sea under arrangements similar to those in the Cape Spartel Convention. It had been the intention of the present Board to avoid organic changes, and they believed that economy and efficiency would be best secured by preserving the continuity of our naval administration. They had entered upon their task in a spirit of reverence for the traditions of the Service; and he ventured to hope that they might not be less successful than their Predecessors in creating and maintaining a good Navy for the country.
§ SIR MASSEY LOPES
said, it was in 1877 a Committee sat to take into consideration the position of naval engineers. That Committee recommended, amongst other things, a considerable increase of pay, and he admitted it was quite true that if a Committee had made certain recommendations, and those recommendations had not been carried out in their integrity, a great deal of dissatisfaction would, no doubt, exist. If the recommendations of the Committee of 1877 had been carried out in full, the amount required would have been £28,000. He need not remind hon. Members that the Admiralty had 1439 not despotic power to give away money just as they pleased, for there was another power above them. What the Admiralty did was to endeavour to modify the recommendations of the Committee, and instead of giving £28,000 a-year, they only gave £18,000. The hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Captain Price) had referred to the recommendations concerning cabin accommodation. A cabin had always been given to the senior officer, but cabins were now provided where practicable for the two next senior officers. Engineers, too, had had a grievance with respect to mess; but this had been remedied, and their charge pay was considerably increased by the late Board of Admiralty. He need not tell the Committee what was done by his late right hon. Friend (Mr. Ward Hunt) with regard to the engineers. He established the College for them at Devonport, and had filled up the Marlborough for them at Portsmouth until a College was built, and had done much to improve this branch of the Service. Formerly, engineer students were solely selected from the sons of mechanics in the Yards; but his right hon. Friend recommended that they should be selected by competition and from a much larger field. The result had been that now there were applications from the sons of clergymen, doctors, and professional men generally, and in a very short time the status of this body would be raised to that level which all must desire to see it attain. If hon. Gentlemen had seen the work now being carried on by the students in the College at Devonport, they would be of opinion that the late Admiralty had accomplished very much to improve the position of engineers.
desired to refer to what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Trevelyan) with regard to the cadets. It seemed to him there was a great advantage in having a certain amount of competitive examination; but there was some danger in the case of young lads who were still, he understood, to be entered. A competitive examination, in the case of a lad between 13 and 14, might have some dangerous results; but he thought any objection that might exist would be removed if boys were not entered under 14. He would like to have heard from the hon. Gentleman whether it was intended to 1440 disestablish the Britannia, whether it was intended to keep the lads on board a stationary ship in harbour, or to educate them in a College on shore. He knew there were many difficulties in the way of a Naval College on shore. Whenever the thing was understood to be contemplated, every borough on the sea shore immediately put forward its claims. This had been the great stumbling-block; but the point would have to be settled if it be true, as he had been informed, that the Britannia was very likely to disestablish herself by falling to pieces. They had heard a great deal concerning the engineers. The case of these men was one of very long standing. It began from defective management something like 35 or 36 years ago. He was temporarily appointed to the command of a small steamer about that time. There was some difficulty as to mess, and the chief engineer was transferred from the stoke-hole to the only mess in the ship, He was a most excellent engineer, and a very good man in many ways, but he appeared extremely uncomfortable in the society in which he found himself. One engineer was transferred from the stoke-hole to the officers' mess, and all the rest were left below in their original position. That had been, more or less, maintained, and he was very glad the status of these officers was being gradually raised. Before long it would be found requisite that engineers should form a distinct class of officers; that they should hold similar positions to the engineers in the sister Service. A great deal, also, had been said about the Marines. In his opinion, the Navy could not have a better Reserve; and he was convinced that if they had a much larger force of Marines than at present, they would hardly be in want, to the extent they now were, of Naval Reserves, the small numbers of whom they were so constantly lamenting. It would have been well if the Marines had come within the purview of the present Vote, as it would be well if some of our great seaports were garrisoned by Marines. He could not see why they should not follow the example of the French Government, and place the government of the whole place or fortress in the hands of the naval commander of the place. However, the question of Marines was not one upon which he could now enter in detail, and he would content himself by 1441 expressing the hope that the requirements of this body would receive every attention, for it was one of the most valuable branches of the English Service. The right hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir John Hay) had said a good deal upon the training of our seamen; but he had not said one word more than he ought. There was considerable difficulty, no doubt, surrounding the training of seamen at present; but it seemed to him they might with advantage adopt, to a certain extent, the system which, during a short visit to Russia, he found obtained in that country. At that time there were no large iron-clads, but there were line-of-battle ships; every one of these in the Cronstadt Division had attached to it a frigate and a brig, and the crews of the three vessels formed a brigade. The men got their turn of exercise in the different ships, and it seemed we might adopt some such system in our own Service. Although there could not be a frigate or a brig, there might be attached to all our heavy iron-clads, and especially to flagships on foreign stations, a vessel which might with advantage be used for surveying purposes. In that way they could combine a great deal of seamanship and useful training both for officers and men. There was one thing which might very well be avoided, and that was the practice which was now becoming rather general—namely, that of landing seamen in any skirmish that might take place, and calling them a naval brigade. He would not say that it was not a very proper thing to do in an emergency; but he was afraid it was becoming very popular amongst both officers and men, and it seemed to him to be a proceeding which could not be too much discouraged. In conclusion, he would only offer a few remarks with reference to shipbuilding. The hon. Member for Cardiff had rather found fault with the size of the iron-clads proposed to be built, and suggested the construction of a small class of iron-clads for the protection of our lines of commerce. He would like to see a fleet of such vessels if it were possible to have one. No one was more competent to design such a vessel than the hon. Member for Cardiff himself; but he (Admiral Egerton) had never seen a ship, or the design of a ship, which would combine small size with gun power, large storage for coal, and the power of keeping the sea for a considerable period; and what 1442 ironclad which did not possess these advantages would be of much use for the protection of our lines of commerce? He was very glad to find, from the programme which had been announced today, that there were to be constructed a number of partially protected cruisers of very great speed, because the more vessels they could have of this class to protect our lines of commerce the better. On the whole they might congratulate the Secretary to the Admiralty upon the clearness of his Statement, and upon the way it had been received by the Committee.
said, the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey) was good enough to say just now that he welcomed any criticisms, from any part of the House, on the Admiralty programme. That was a very sagacious and wise observation, because nothing would strengthen the hands of himself (Mr. T. Brassey) and of his political Colleagues more than that the Committee of Supply should become a reality instead of being a sham. Discussions upon the Naval Estimates were looked upon by the Admiralty authorities with the most profound contempt, and the proceedings of this evening were only an example of the sort of proceedings that had taken place in Committee of Supply on the Naval Estimates for a very large number of years past. They consisted of an address by the First Lord of the Admiralty or his Representative, and of a number of compliments passed between the Members of the two Front Benches; he hoped the Secretary to the Admiralty would not think him insincere when he said that this evening they were unusually well deserved. Very few private Members of the House ventured to make any independent observations upon the Estimates, which, they knew full well, were treated with more or less contempt, and which did not produce the slightest effect whatever on the administration of the Admiralty. He would like to give the Committee one significant illustration of what he meant. Some years ago he was told by a naval official of his acquaintance that one of the greatest jobs of the Admiralty was the expenditure upon the Island of Ascension; and when the late Conservative Government were in Office, he ventured, in the timid and hesitating manner usually adopted by an hon. Member when his own political Party 1443 was in power, to call attention to the Island of Ascension, and to move for a Return of all the expenditure incurred by the Admiralty in relation thereto. A Return was voted and ordered by the House of Commons; but it was never made. He spoke to the Secretary to the Treasury, his hon. Friend the Member for West Essex (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson), and he failed to give a satisfactory reason why the Return had not been made.
said, that was not in consequence of anything that took place in the previous Parliament. Last Session, being in Opposition, and therefore able to express himself with more freedom, he took the liberty, when the House was in Committee of Supply, to call attention, on every Vote, to the unknown expenditure on the Island of Ascension, because in some way or other, either in the Medical or the Store Vote, or the Vote for New Buildings, the Island of Ascension cropped up. They were at last told by the Secretary to the Admiralty that the Island was treated as a ship, and that if they wished to understand the expenditure on the Island they also must regard it as a ship. Though the Secretary to the Admiralty thought the accounts were presented in a very irregular and improper manner, he said the Government had no wish to conceal the expenditure on the Island, and promised that a Return should be presented. He observed that the whole of that interesting discussion had not produced the slightest effect, and that the accounts of the expenditure on the Island were furnished this year in the same fashion. He mentioned these matters in order to show what a slight effect discussions in that House had upon the Admiralty. Now he came to the speech of the Secretary to the Admiralty, and he was inclined to assist him in the way pointed out by the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey)—that was, by criticizing to the best of his ability that part of the speech which seemed to call for criticism. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Trevelyan) would allow him to express the profound regret with which he heard his statement with reference to the entry of Naval Cadets. Last Session there was a discussion upon this subject, and from the remarks made on that occasion by the 1444 then Secretary to the Admiralty, and from the known liberality of sentiment and principle of the present Secretary to the Admiralty on this subject, many of them wore in hopes that some more liberal and more worthy scheme of entering cadets in the British Navy would have emanated from the Board of Admiralty. He heard with some surprise and, he confessed, with some amusement, an expression from the Secretary to the Admiralty which he should scarcely have expected to hear from the Secretary of Admiralty of a Liberal and popular Administration. He understood there was some "social qualification" necessary for the admission of a boy to serve the Queen in her Navy, and that it was for the purpose of securing this social qualification that the system of nomination was now to be kept up. He would have thought that the present Administration would have had the courage to throw open the Naval Service to the boys of Great Britain, without any distinction of class. Have what educational qualification they thought necessary to secure, as far as they could, the best boys, physically and intellectually, to serve the Queen in the Navy; but do not let them have a Liberal Administration impressing upon the House of Commons the necessity of keeping up a social qualification for cadetships. There was no "social qualification" needed for officers in the Army, or for officers in the Civil Service. There was not a single public school in the country which would venture to impose a "social qualification" as a condition for the election of boys for its foundation; and if the foundationers of Eton or Winchester could associate with the sons of gentlemen, on equal terms, surely boys chosen as cadets on account of their intellectual qualifications could associate with the sons of gentlemen. That the present Government, and especially a Member of the Government of the known liberality of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Trevelyan), should maintain this social qualification was extremely novel; and if the hon. Gentleman would allow him (Mr. Gorst), he would sympathize with him that he should have been obliged, in his official position, to advocate a scheme which must to him, in his heart of hearts, be thoroughly and utterly distasteful. He was very much disappointed that the Admiralty should persist in appointing their naval cadets at the extremely immature age 1445 they were now appointed. When boys were sent to sea in sailing ships, as in former days, there was a good deal to be said in favour of sending them at a very early age; but now-a-days they did not appoint boys in order to send them to sea, but for the purpose of sending them to school, and sending them to a very bad school. A boy did not now go to sea until he was 16 or 17 years of age; and they had the testimony of very eminent naval men and of his right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wigton (Sir John Hay), and of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Admiral Egerton), that boys would make more efficient officers in the Navy if they were appointed at a later age. He said just now that the Britannia was a very bad school. The House of Commons was not much favoured with the Reports of the examiners as to the state of education on the Britannia. He would like to place the school under the inspection of examiners from Oxford and Cambridge, in the same way as the public schools, and have the Reports laid before the House of Commons. Last Session he quoted in Committee of Supply from the few and meagre Reports which had been laid before the House concerning the Britannia, and he remembered that in one of them it was said the boys did not know how to use their dictionaries. In the last Session of Parliament, too, they had the advantage of listening to an extremely interesting speech from an officer of great distinction who had been the commander of the Britannia, then Lord Ramsay, now the Earl of Dalhousie. Had that noble Earl praised the Britannia they might have regarded his testimony as influenced, to some extent, by prejudice; but the noble Earl was certainly an unimpeachable witness, when he said, as he did last Session, that as an educational establishment the Britannia was a very great failure. He (Mr. Gorst) should have thought, after that declaration of Lord Ramsay, the Admiralty would either have abandoned the scheme of the Britannia altogether, or, if they had continued it, they would, at least, have come down to the House with some valid excuse for prolonging an experiment which one of their strongest supporters had so signally condemned. Last Session reference was also made to the great expense of the Britannia. It was, without doubt, the 1446 most expensive school to which they could possibly send a boy; and the question was very properly asked, why on earth did the Admiralty persist in taking little boys of 13 and sending them to a bad and expensive school at the cost of the nation, when it was quite certain that if they would throw open Cadetships for competition to boys of 16 or 17 they would get the very pick of the youth of the country, and have an entry of at least six or seven times as many boys as at present, from which number they could take their choice. Officers for the Army were chosen at the age of 18 or 19 from the general youth of the country; and why should not the Admiralty choose for the officers of the British Navy boys at the age of 16 or 17, whom the public schools of the country could supply in indefinite numbers, and then send them for such technical or peculiar training as might be necessary? That was a common sense scheme; it was a scheme which was supported by naval officers themselves; and he ventured to say if the Committee of Supply in that House on Naval Estimates were a reality it was one which would be immediately enforced upon the Government. The reason why the Admiralty would not listen to any suggestion made by hon. Members was that they regarded the Committee of Supply as a delusion and a sham. Now, he would like to observe that the Naval Estimates of this year showed an increase, and that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty was kind enough to say he felt compassion for future Boards of Admiralty, because he saw that the item for pensions was one which must cause a continual increase of the Naval Estimates from year to year. He should never blame the Government for an increase of their expenditure with regard to the Navy; but he thought it would be becoming if, either upon the Budget Statement, or upon the Appropriation Bill, or upon some other appropriate occasion, an apology of some kind were offered by the Prime Minister, or by some distinguished Member of the Party now in power, for the unreserved abuse which they, upon every possible occasion, lavished so abundantly on their Predecessors, because their Estimates were what they—the present Government—were pleased to call extravagant. He supposed that the Government must 1447 now discover that the expenditure which they had denounced when in Opposition was really necessary for the safety of the Empire; and it would be but graceful in them to offer some apology for the denunciations in which they had indulged. He would not enter into any details in regard to the Votes now; but he should like to say one word in answer to an observation which had been made respecting the grievances of the engine-room artificers in Her Majesty's Navy. It was said that what the Admiralty looked to was whether they could get a supply of persons for a particular service for the pay and advantages they offered. In regard to the Medical Service, the hon. Gentleman admitted the necessity of some improvement and reform, owing to the fact that it was found impossible to get good men to enter the Service. But they must also recollect that upon the terms they offered must depend the sort of men they would get. On their present terms, no doubt, they could get engine-room artificers; but the question was, what kind of engine-room artificers they would get? His (Mr. Gorst's) opinion was that they should give such terms as would give them picked men—the best men who could be obtained. They should not be content with getting ordinary artificers; but they should try to secure very first-class men indeed, because, in these days of complicated machinery on board ship, the possibility of the ship keeping the sea might depend upon the character of the artificers they had on board. If they had inferior men, the ship might have to go into dock to be repaired at considerable expense, and it would also be necessary for her to leave her station at a time probably when it was of the utmost importance that she should keep it. Therefore, it was bad economy to offer any other terms than those which would secure the services of the very best men. The same remark applied to the Marines. The Royal Marines had always hitherto been a picked class of men—the very best corps in the British Army—and, no doubt, if they offered to the Marines the same terms they were offering now, they would get men of some sort to join that corps; but the question was whether they would get the right sort of men. He was of opinion that it was an advantage not only to get men, but to get a class of 1448 men who would compare with the best men in the Army. It always used to be the principle that the pay and position of the Royal Marines while on shore should be equal to that of the Army, and when they were afloat the extra pay and extra advantages which they gained from their sea pay and their sea position were considered to be equivalent to the wear and tear of health and clothes, and the expenses they were put to consequent upon being at sea. But now he was told that last year the Admiralty abandoned that idea, and established a new principle—that the Marine must be satisfied if, on the average, with his sea pay when at sea and his shore pay when on shore, he found himself, on the whole, in a position equal to that of the Army. He (Mr. Gorst) ventured to say that, if this principle was carried out, they would get Marines, but not the same sort of Marines they had had in the Service hitherto. He was very reluctant to differ from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith); but he must protest against the doctrine which the right hon. Gentleman had laid down, that the Government were to be blamed for lessening the amount of repairs that in future were to be done by contract. There was a good deal to be said in favour of building a certain number of ships by contract; but there was nothing to be said in favour of repairing ships by contract. It was most important that every kind of repair should be capable of being executed in the Royal Dockyards, because in times of war they would be the only safe places in which to conduct such operations, as the ships could only be repaired where they were protected from hostile attack. They could not send a ship to be repaired at Newcastle-on-Tyne or in the Clyde if there was a hostile fleet at sea. Therefore it was necessary that the Royal Dockyards should be provided with every appliance for the repair of ships; and he was strongly of opinion that all the repairs should be done not by contract, but in the Royal Dockyards. He wished next to support what had been said by the hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Reed) in reference to the conduct of the Admiralty in having, for the first time, cavalierly refused to give any kind of information as to the type of ship it was intended to build. On former occasions, 1449 the Committee had frequently been asked to vote large sums of money for the construction of ships, with the promise that, in a later part of the Session, some information should be given to the House as to the kind of ship it was intended to build; but he did not think there was a precedent for asking the Committee to vote the money to build a ship with an intimation that the First Lord of the Admiralty had no intention of determining the type of ship until the winter. He thought that was a demand which the Committee ought not to sanction, if there was any disposition on its part to exercise a will of its own. He should feel no difficulty in advising the Committee to stand out on this point, and refuse to vote the money until some information was provided to it as to the mode in which the money was to be spent. He did not think that laying before the Committee some information as to the type of ship was so entirely useless as some hon. Members might think. It was quite true that there were not more than half-a-dozen Members, of whom the hon. Member for Cardiff was no doubt one, who were qualified to criticize the designs of the Admiralty; but there was nothing more wholesome for a Public Department than that it should have to submit its designs to criticism in a public Assembly like the House of Commons. It made them a great deal more careful in regard to their work and designs. The whole of the work of naval construction at the present moment was an experiment. Nobody knew what would occur if the ship went into action. Everyone admitted that the able theorists by whom the ships of the present time were designed would be very much benefited by a little practical experience, if practical experience were possible; but as in such a matter as the behaviour of ships in naval warfare no experience was as yet possible, it was desirable that they should have the next best thing to actual experience—and that was public criticism in that House. Although hon. Members themselves were not competent, probably, to criticize the designs of the Admiralty, there were plenty of persons who were able to do so, who would look into the designs if they were laid upon the Table of the House, and would make their views heard and felt by the Admiralty. He must say himself 1450 that he thought it would be very much for the advantage of the country, and very much for the safety and efficiency of our iron-clads, if the Admiralty gave an opportunity for criticizing the designs they intended to carry out. He did not think what happened in the case of the Inflexible was of a character to induce the House of Commons to place the blindest possible faith in the designs of the Admiralty. He presumed that many Members of the Committee were acquainted with the story of the Inflexible, and he would tell it in a few words. The inflexible was a ship designed by the Board of Admiralty, with a centre citadel, and unarmoured ends; and she was to be constructed so that if the unarmoured ends were shot away, so that the centre citadel alone remained, the ship would still possess sufficient stability to extricate herself in action, and get to a place of safety. Five years ago, the hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Reed) pointed out to the House, with the great knowledge he possessed in regard to matters of that kind, that the Admiralty promises would never be fulfilled, and that when the unarmoured ends were shot away, the Inflexible, instead of maintaining her stability, would capsize. Now, that was a startling statement—so startling, that the Admiralty was constrained to appoint a Committee of experts, who reported not that the hon. Member for Cardiff was wrong, but that such a thing was not likely to happen. At the same time, they were obliged to confess that if the unarmoured ends were shot away the statement of the right hon. Member for Cardiff was substantially correct. But the Report of the Committee revealed an entirely new and unexpected danger to the inflexible—namely, that if the unarmoured ends were not shot away, but only seriously damaged, and if she was driven through the water, not at a great speed, but at about eight knots an hour, she would be extremely likely to go down head first. That was what the experts found out. This story ought to be remembered by the Committee and the country, and the moral he drew from it was, not to put blind confidence in the Constructive Department of the Admiralty. He thought, under these circumstances, the Committee should be in a position to form an independent opinion of its own, and 1451 that, after the case of the Inflexible, they might, at least, ask that the designs for a new ship of war should be laid on the Table.
§ MR. STUART RENDEL
said, he was afraid that, in addressing the Committee that night upon one of the subjects which had come under debate, he must accept the position of a partizan. He referred to the question of gunnery, which, he understood the Chairman to intimate, ought to be discussed now or not at all. Probably he might not have thought it necessary to address the Committee if it had not been for a remark which fell from his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty. In summarizing, in one of the most lucid passages of the brilliant Statement he had made, the qualities of the new vessel he proposed to lay down, his hon. Friend spoke of her as combining the speed of the Leander with the gun power possessed by a first-rate battle-ship, such as the Dreadnought, the Devastation, or the Thunderer. Yet the guns of the new vessel, while of equal power, would be of no more than half the weight of the guns of the Dreadnought, Devastation, and Thunderer. Therefore, it was now officially declared that it was possible to arm our ships with guns of double the penetrative power of the existing armaments while keeping within the same weight. That statement should give considerable food for reflection; for it thus appeared that, as far as armament was concerned, the whole British Navy might be considered only at half power according to the existing state of artillery. It was admitted that the gun was a primary element in the value of the ship; and it would seem indeed, now agreed that the ship was to be made for the gun, and not the gun for the ship. These admissions gave importance to the circumstance he wished to impress on the Committee—namely, that the advance of artillery rendered our existing naval armament obsolete. That being so, he was among those who had waited with great anxiety to hear what the Admiralty proposed to do in order to rehabilitate the Navy with respect to its guns; and he heard, with regret, the comparatively meagre measures which were to be taken, and the small extent to which the required rearmament of the Fleet was to be carried. It was proposed to re-arm the Shah—at any rate, the statement to that effect of 1452 the hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Reed) had not been negatived—and the Secretary to the Admiralty spoke of 14 guns having actually been ordered for the Admiralty. But it must be remembered that there were no less than 1,000 guns of one calibre alone of this obsolete character afloat; and that our newest and most costly unarmoured vessels were depending exclusively for their power on the feeblest of such guns. It must further be remembered that the cost of the armament of a ship constituted but a small proportion of the total cost of the ship, probably amounting, in an ironclad vessel, to no more than from 5 to 10 or 12 per cent. Moreover, the cost of maintaining the ship on service was always the same whatever the armament. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) spoke truly of the willingness with which the Admiralty adopted costly improvements and additions in ships under construction, and instanced the case of torpedo launches and electric lights. An illustration of enlightened enterprize afloat even more pointed might be drawn from the Mercantile Service. Not many years ago, there was a great revolution in the type of marine engines. At once the advantage was realized by the Mercantile Marine. The owners of merchant ships, within the last three or four years, had entirely re-constituted all the leading lines of steamers so far as engines were concerned, and that, too, at a cost and an inconvenience relatively far greater, compared with the value of the ship, and compared with the disarrangement of the affairs of the shipowners, than would be incurred by the Admiralty in order to effect a re-armament of the Navy. If a great and similar revolution had, as was now officially admitted, taken place in those engines of war which constituted the present armament of our ships, one would fairly expect to have the matter of armaments at once revised and dealt with. No doubt, the Admiralty was influenced by the consideration of what was going on in the foreign Navies; and he admitted the force of the observation which had been made that night, that too pointed allusions should not be made to what our neighbours were doing in relation to artillery and ships. But the Admiralty must be aware, and the Comittee ought to know, that one Continental Power 1453 alone was now making 116 guns, every one of which was equal in power and superior in weight to the heaviest gun of the new cruiser, and all of which were being constructed for ships actually building or afloat. He would, however, venture to trouble the Committee with facts nearer home. This great revolution in the character of artillery was first accomplished, not abroad, but in England, and, now, fully three years ago. As long ago as June, 1878, full accounts were authoritatively published of the remarkable results then already attained with guns of precisely the same character as those which the Secretary to the Admiralty had alluded to that night. The serious and powerful comments which were then made in the public Press undoubtedly showed what must be the inevitable course of artillery in the immediate future. But the benefit of the progress accomplished these three years back did not appear to have been secured to the British Admiralty. Not a single gun of the new character had been, as yet, put afloat in the British Navy, and the three years start obtained in this country had been lost as far as the Admiralty was concerned. He would not speak further of what was being clone abroad; but he would venture to state what was being done within his own knowledge in one workshop at home. The total number of guns actually made and mounted, or now in course of construction, equal or superior in power to the broadside guns of this new armoured cruiser which they hoped to see afloat in the next three or four years, was now already not less than 176. He could give the details if he were not afraid of wearying the Committee; but the broad fact was that there were 176 guns of that character actually afloat, or likely soon to be afloat, and in all 373 guns of the new type were already made, or were now in the course of construction in this country alone. He thought the fact that so many large guns, possessing double the power, weight for weight, of those of the British Navy, were now in the course of distribution all over the world was one that should influence the opinion of this country and the action of the Admiralty. He did not refer to the subject in any spirit of hostile criticism. He was well aware that, in relation to the question of ordnance, the Admiralty was not its own master. The business of the 1454 Admiralty was to design the ships, but not to design the guns. By ancient tradition and usage the gun question came under the control of the War Office. The Committee would, no doubt, agree that the demand for guns in the Fleet was greater and more critical and important than the demand made by the Army itself. The question of ordnance was not only more vital and critical to the Navy than to the Army; it was also, in ninny respects, different in character; and yet the Navy was unable to exercise an independent initiation and control. He hoped the knowledge of these facts would stimulate the demands of the Admiralty upon the War Office, and induce it to ask for something more of what the hon. Member (Mr. Trevelyan) called the generous treatment of the War Office.
§ SIR WILLIAM PALLISER
said, the question of steel-faced armour plates was one which, notwithstanding its importance, had not received sufficient attention; and be therefore desired to say a few words on the subject. Many years ago experiments had been made with steel armour plates, and great expectations were formed of the results to be derived from their use; but it was found that, although it was very difficult to perforate them, they broke up on being struck. But experiment had also shown that armour formed by rolling steel on iron armour plates had very great power. He reminded the Committee of the engagement which took place between the Huascar and the Chilian vessel. He thought there were many ships in the Navy, the resisting power of whose armour was no stronger than that of the Huascar, and that it was worth the while of the Constructive Department of the Navy to consider whether the inefficient wrought iron plates might not be replaced by something more substantial, in the shape of steel-faced armour plates. With regard to breech-loading gulls, however opinions might differ as to the exposure of breech and muzzle-loaders for a number of years to the action of the weather, there could be no two opinions as to our ships being armed with the most powerful breech-loading guns, and those which would give the greatest velocity.
§ MR. SERJEANT SIMON
said, two or three years ago lie called attention to the situation of the junior lieutenants, and the then First Lord of the Admiralty 1455 admitted the justice of his appeal, and was good enough to promise that the matter should be taken into consideration. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the subject that evening, and stated how he had dealt with it; and he was bound to say that he had done so in a manner likely to tend to the benefit of the Service, and to give satisfaction to the officers concerned. But with regard to the proposal that senior lieutenants of eight years' standing should have a rank equal to that of major in the Army, he must point out that inter se, in the Navy this gave them no rank at all, and the lieutenant of 40 years of age would be in precisely the same position as the young man of 21 years of age, while his pay of £125 a-year would remain the same as that of the veriest tyro in the Service. There could be no doubt that a hopeless feeling existed amongst some of our best officers with regard to promotion, and that the hardship they suffered was detrimental to the Public Service. The question was, therefore, well worthy the attention of the Admiralty; and he trusted they would deal with it in the same fair and generous spirit which had been shown in the case of the junior lieutenants.
§ MR. D. GRANT
said, the Navy of this country had passed through a series of changes. We had first the sailing ship, next the steam ship, then the armoured steam ship and the battery, and now we had the torpedo vessel. He agreed with the hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Reed) that the scientific knowledge possessed by naval engineers should have its representation at the Board of Admiralty. Most of the recent applications of science in naval affairs had originated with foreign nations. For instance, iron-clad armour had originated in France, turret ships in America, torpedoes in Austria, and pebble powder in Germany. In each case there was a marked utilization of scientific and engineering skill, and a distinct advance in the relative importance that science bore to the final result. Scientific knowledge was evidently the issue upon which war would in future be decided; and if England tools up her position in this respect to which the genius of her people entitled her, we should undoubtedly be able to hold our position as a great Naval Power. Quite lately he had read of a machine called "Erichsen's Destroyer," which, if all that 1456 was said of it was true, must produce an entire revolution in the conditions of naval warfare. It was, therefore, most necessary that the Admiralty should avail themselves of the scientific knowledge of the day, which went to the root of the whole question of our naval supremacy.
§ MR. PULESTON
cordially congratulated the Secretary to the Admiralty on his interesting speech; the only fault he found with it was that his hon. Friend stopped just at the place where certain specific statements as to the position of some of the classes in the Dockyards and in the Service were to come in; and he (Mr. Puleston) thought it was unsatisfactory, and calculated to create a great deal of disaffection amongst officers and men employed in the Service, that constant reference should be made in a mysterious way to probable changes that might take place hereafter, and that the matter should always remain indefinite and undecided. With reference to the Royal Marines, for instance, the subject had been discussed on many occasions in that House, in Committee, and elsewhere; but no other point had been arrived at than that their case was being considered, and that the present First Lord would take it into consideration some time during the year. That sort of information, going amongst the persons concerned, naturally interested in their own welfare, was certainly not calculated to make them more contented, or to make them better understand their real position. The same remarks applied, in a stronger sense, to the naval engineers, of whom a great deal had been justly said that evening. His hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty had referred to the effect of supply and demand in speaking of the medical officers of the Navy; but he had not mentioned one word on the subject of naval engineers, to which his attention had been lately drawn in more ways than one. Several years ago their case was considered at great length by the Admiralty, and a very competent Committee was appointed to discuss the questions which it was thought necessary to bring forward in the interest of the Service and in the interest of the engineers themselves. That Committee was presided over by the present First Sea Lord; and, notwithstanding that the distinguished Admiral had occupied this position for several years, very 1457 little concession had been made on the lines of the Report. The case having been thoroughly considered, by so competent a Committee, presided over by one who occupied so prominent a position at the Admiralty, it was, he thought, not unreasonable that the officers in question should be furnished with some information as to what their position in the Service was to be. At all events, he hoped his hon. Friend would say either that something of a definite character was to be done, as a step in the direction of the recommendation of the Committee, or that it was decided that at present no further concession would be made. He ventured to say the question of repairs, and giving out repairs to private dockyards, had been already discussed at such a length as to render it presumably quite unnecessary again to refer to it. The Committee would remember that not long ago, with all the appliances at our Dockyards, contracts were freely given out to private yards, and the men accustomed to the work were discharged at a moment's notice. That time had gone by, and he was the more surprised to find so much stress had been laid upon the question of giving work to private yards, when Her Majesty's Dockyards had the means necessary to do all the repairs essential to the Service. He felt there was some disposition to go too far in giving contracts for shipbuilding. That might be to some extent necessary; but repairs should certainly not go outside the Dockyards under any circumstances. Upon all these points he trusted that the views of the Admiralty would be definitely stated. He again thanked the hon. Gentleman for his speech, which was extremely interesting, and rejoiced in the fact that he was able frankly to say that the present Board had adopted so much of the reforms inaugurated by their Predecessors.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, the hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Reed) took some exception to the general discussion which preceded the Navy Estimates. But as for himself, he (Mr. Trevelyan) never realized before the benefit which that discussion gave to Departmental officials, even when those officials enjoyed the advantage of a little Parliament of their own, for each person was able to give the result of his own mature experience, instead of making isolated reflections as suggested by chance 1458 items in the Votes. The hon. Member for Cardiff had commented with great force on the fact that the Inflexible had taken so long to finish. But the present Admiralty were in the proud position, alone among Boards of Admiralty, of having finished the inflexible. The ship would be completed by the 31st March, and commissioned in June. The hon. Member for Cardiff approved of the theory of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster, that ships were machines for carrying guns. Well, the Admiralty were pushing forward the completion of those machines, and he was glad to say the hon. Member for Cardiff had approved their conduct in so doing. The hon. Member objected to their taking ships out of the programme; but no ship in this year's programme would be taken out. Then the hon. Member went on to complain that an iron-clad had been placed in the programme about which no explanation had been given to Parliament; but it was the intention of Lord Northbrook that before the end of the Session the desired explanation should be given. If hon. Members looked to the Estimates they would find that only £1,100 had been taken for the labour on the ship in question. The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Stuart Rendel) complained that he had not spoken in sufficient detail of the steps taken to provide the Navy with guns; but his hon. Friend showed that he was not entirely responsible. Money had been taken for eight 9-inch breech-loading suns, four 8-inch breech-loading guns, and no fewer than 103 6-inch breech-loading guns, £57,000 more had been taken for the purpose this year than last year, and the Shah and the Raleigh would be armed with two 8-inch guns and 24 and 26 6-inch guns respectively. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) asked what had become of the scheme for inducing men to re-engage after many years' service; and to that he (Mr. Trevelyan) replied that the scheme had certainly proved unsuccessful, only 40 or 50 men having joined under the circumstances. However, a Departmental Committee was then sitting to consider this long service question. The number of boys in the Service on the 1st of February, 1880, was 4,999, and at the corresponding period of this year it stood at 4,953. The stokers 1459 and artificers now numbered 7,459 as against 7,480 in the previous year. The hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) had made a rather sharp attack upon him for an unfortunate observation which he made with regard to the social qualifications of officers in the Navy. What he said was that one great objection to open competition had always been that it did not provide for the social qualifications of the candidates, and that under the system as altered those social qualifications had been provided for by the way in which the nominations were made. He utterly denied that by that observation he could be supposed to imply that open competition would introduce a class with inferior qualifications. He had never said that the Britannia was the most expensive school in the world. He held that, expensive as the system was, it might be worked in a less expensive manner. He desired not to express any opinion with regard to the Royal Marines. The question of the engineers had been quite recently decided by the late Government, and the present Board of Admiralty did not think it advisable to re-open the matter, at the same time they fully recognized the change going on in the status of the engineers; the nature of that change was carefully watched, and if any reforms were considered necessary they would be carefully noted by the Admiralty. At the same time, he thought their position was looked upon as a good one, for he saw that in 1877, for 42 posts they had 142 candidates; in 1878, for 60 posts they had 214 candidates; in 1879, 42 vacancies attracted 230 candidates; and in 1880 they had 188 candidates for 65 posts. And what was the character of those candidates? The hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes) said they were just the kind of young men they wanted; therefore, he must say, he felt very doubtful whether, with those facts before them, they would be justified in raising the scale of payment of the engineers. At the same time, their status deserved careful attention, and it was admitted that those officers deserved somewhat different treatment from that which they had hitherto received. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst) that as long as he was at the Admiralty he should care- 1460 fully watch over the requirements of the engineers. As to a separate mess, that recommendation had been carried out in all sloops, gunboats, and corvettes, and arrangements were still in progress with regard to it. The vessels in commission in which there was no engineers' mess now numbered 96. As to cabin accommodation, it was difficult to build more for want of space; but the recommendations of the Committee on that subject were always kept in view, and as new ships came in commission the special cabins would be fitted for the two senior engineers. It now only remained for him to thank the Committee for the great attention and extreme courtesy with which they had received the Estimates, and to request them to get through as many of the Votes as they could that night. There was an understanding that they should not press Vote 2, as an interesting point would arise upon it as to the question of rum, which point it would be well to have discussed on going into Committee. Nor would he, at that time of night, think of pressing forward Votes 6, 10, or 11.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
wished to say just one word with reference to the design of the new armour-clad ships. He ventured to think that the designs for these vessels should be approved this year. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Trevelyan), when he gained a little more experience—and no one could have profited more by his experience than had the hon. Member so far—would see the absolute necessity of arriving soon at a decision with regard to the design which was to be carried into effect next year. He understood that no considerable progress was to be made with the new vessels this year; but unless the design was fully considered and decided by the Board of Admiralty this year—and by "this year" he meant this year ending with the Session—there would be no hope of making progress with it during the coming year, and there could be no greater extravagance, if he might so say, than to leave the Dockyards without the proper amount of work. There should be ships in the Dockyards in every stage of building; and it was, therefore, as necessary to commence a ship as to finish one. He agreed with the principle laid down that ships should be completed as soon as possible; but it was also necessary that 1461 ships should be in course of progress. Unless the ships were begun this summer, so that the proper orders could be given to the Dockyard authorities to enable them to commence next year, the Government would find themselves several months in arrear.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I am sure the observations which have fallen from the right hon. Gentleman will be carefully considered by Lord Northbrook and the Board, as also the suggestions and general recommendations that have been made by the Committee.
asked the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Trevelyan) whether he could clear up the point to which reference had been already made—namely, as to the three ships which were in the programme of last year; but which had now, apparently, dropped out of the programme? It had been said that one of the ships which had been agreed upon by the late Government had been abandoned by the present Government, so that there had only been two left to be constructed. Had these two, then, dropped out of the programme?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
thought he had better answer the question. When the late Government, last year, produced their Estimates, they proposed three new iron-clads for the current year; but when he had submitted the revised Estimates, on behalf of the present Government, later in the year, he had told the House that it was more important to complete the vessels in hand. Lord Northbrook had decided upon dropping one, so that he was proceeding with only two. These vessels had been commenced during the present year, and with one of them—the Collingwood—considerable advance had been made. The other one was the new-armoured cruiser described by the Secretary to the Admiralty; therefore, two of the vessels which were proposed last year had been commenced.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (2.) £2,704,226, Wages, &c. to Seamen and Marines.
§ (3.) £180,583, Admiralty Office.
§ CAPTAIN PRICE
wished to know if he understood correctly from the Secretary to the Admiralty that they were to go through with all the Votes, save Votes 2, 6, 10, and 11? He thought the under- 1462 standing was that they were to take only the Votes for men and wages, as they had done in the case of the Army last night. If they were asked to do more than that, he should certainly move to report Progress.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, there had been an understanding that the Votes on which there was likely to be an important discussion should be postponed; but this was not a Vote of that nature. As to the other Votes, he did not think it was necessary that the Committee should stop their consideration at that period of the evening. The Committee might go on, at any rate, an hour or two longer.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
hoped Votes 6 and 10 would not be taken that night; but, irrespective of these, he did not see why the Committee should not go on with the Votes up to 14. Perhaps it would be agreeable to the Secretary to the Admiralty to take the Votes up to Vote 14.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, that with regard to Vote 3, he observed that there was an increase in the charge, and he should be glad if the hon. Gentleman would point out how the increase had occurred. A great deal more was spent under this head than was spent before the changes took place 10 years ago, although great efforts had been made to reduce the expenditure under this particular Vote. The Pension List had been largely increased, with a view of reducing the Vote; but to no avail. He hoped the hon. Member would tell them what the amount would be if the increase of the Pension List were included in it.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
replied, that the charges on the Pension List and the Votes came nearly to an equilibrium at the present moment.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £194,481, Coastguard Service and Royal Naval Reserves, &c.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
wished again to urge upon the Committee the necessity for adding training ships to the Coastguard ships at the various ports. If a small recruiting ship were attached to each of the Coastguard stations, the men who were now supernumerary, at Sheerness, for instance, could pass in gunnery on the Coastguard ships during the summer season. The Government should not lose sight of the advantage to be gained to the Service in that way.
§ CAPTAIN PRICE
wished to know what was the exact position with regard to the Coastguard. They had been told this evening that there was no difficulty in getting men, and that the number was only 70 short of the number voted; but Admiral Phillimore complained in his Report of the lack of candidates, and said that as a consequence the number had been reduced. If the number had been reduced in consequence of the lack of candidates, it was hardly correct to say there was no lack of candidates. It appeared to him that they only voted according to the number of men they could get.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, that the Report referred to was made in 1879, and referred to a time when there had been some difficulty in getting the requisite number of men; but of late the recruiting had gone on more briskly, and they were within 16 of the requisite number.
§ MR. JENKINS
thought that it would be well to recruit amongst the able seamen, and not to include men of the second and third class any more than was necessary.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, the subject was under the consideration of the Board of Admiralty, and steps had been taken to encourage the enlistment of men of the first class, rather at the expense of those of the second and third classes.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
did not think any difficulty in keeping up the Coastguard could be proved so long as they had the requisite number of men; but he would point out that the reason petty officers were not ready to enlist in this Service was because they were anxious to serve in the Navy for pensions.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, seamen could enter the Coastguard after eight years' service, and the petty officers served their 20 years in the Navy. He had no doubt that, with sufficient care, it would always be possible to keep up the numbers of the Coastguard.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (5.) £120,382, Scientific Branch.
wished to know whether care was taken to properly apportion the expenses of the Royal Naval College at Greenwich between the Consolidated Fund and the Greenwich Hospital Fund. He did not wish to raise once more the old question of the rent of Greenwich 1464 Hospital, although he saw that, notwithstanding the discussion that occurred last year, the Admiralty still persisted in paying only the meagre sum of £100 a-year for the magnificent buildings at Greenwich which were used for the purpose of a College. This Vote was full of instances in which salaries and expenses were apportioned between the Royal Naval College and the Greenwich Hospital Fund, and one was disposed to fear that, unless the Admiralty took great pains to do justice between the two, Greenwich Hospital would suffer in the apportionment. There was, for instance, an allowance to the medical officer to Greenwich Hospital School—a sum of £80 a-year. That was paid for services rendered to the Naval College, and, no doubt, it would be stated that the remainder of the salary was paid out of the Greenwich Hospital School Fund. This, according to the Estimate, was to be found on page 228; but when they turned to page 228, they found there no further information respecting the salary of this medical officer. Therefore he was unable to tell from the Estimates what proportion was borne by the School, and what proportion was borne by the College. He should like to know by whom the salary of this medical officer was apportioned between the two departments, and on what principle that apportionment was made.
§ MR. T. BRASSEY
said, that the financial arrangement to which the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Gorst) referred were in the Estimates which the Government found prepared when they came into Office last year. He did not think there could be many instances of the kind the hon. and learned Member referred to. He saw that in this particular case it had been found convenient that the College should avail itself of the professional services of the medical officer of the Greenwich Hospital School. This, he understood, had actually been the case. With regard to the rent paid for the occupation of the buildings for the purposes of a Royal Naval College, they had a full discussion on the subject last Session; and the Committee generally agreed that, under the circumstances of the case, the arrangement was not inequitable. If the Royal College had not been placed in these noble buildings, no doubt they would have been deserted. The maintenance of the buildings was a 1465 very expensive matter; and, therefore, on the whole, the Committee ought to feel very satisfied with the arrangement that existed. After all, the occupation of Greenwich Hospital for the purposes of a Naval College was subject to revision; and if, at any time, a great war occurred, and it was found necessary once more to use the building for the purpose of a hospital, it could be, without much difficulty, put to that use.
§ SIR MASSEY LOPES
said, that when the late Admiralty came into Office they found the same officers doing duty for both the School and the College. They found that a very inconvenient arrangement; they therefore altered it, and at present each had its own staff, with the exception of the medical officer, who acted for both.
said, his complaint was that in one part of the Estimates they were told that the details of a Vote would be found in the Appendix; but when the Appendix was referred to nothing about the Vote was to be discovered.
said, the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey) had answered an attack he had never made, because he had expressly stated that he did not wish to raise the old question of the rent of the Greenwich Hospital Buildings. He did not wish to take the Admiralty by surprise; and he, therefore, in view of future discussion on the question, pointed out that there were a great many officers connected with the Admiralty—clerks of the Admiralty itself and officers employed in the Naval College—part of whose salaries were paid, or who had gratuities paid out of the Greenwich Hospital Fund. When they came to the Greenwich Hospital Vote, he should ask a question as to that—namely, what was the proportion paid out of the Hospital Fund, and what proportion came from the ordinary source?
§ MR. T. BRASSEY
said, that when a favourable opportunity arose, and the question was gone into, he would give the hon. and learned Member the information he desired.
§ CAPTAIN PRICE
wished to have some information as to the regulations under which the next examination in June 1466 would take place. It seemed that as matters now stood some candidates ought to be examined under the old system and some under the new system; but a person writing to him from one of the large schools for training cadets had written to him saying that the candidates were all to go up under the new system. Were they to understand that those cadets, whose nominations were granted previously, would come under the new regulations or not?
§ MR. R. W. DUFF
wished to know whether any attention had been paid to the question of sailing ships for training purposes?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
inquired whether the series of experiments instituted with regard to navigation and shipbuilding under Mr. Froude were to be continued; and whether any sum was included in the Estimates for their continuation?
observed that, although instruction in Latin was abolished, a salary was to be paid to the examiner in Latin.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, his opinion was that all the names of cadets down on the First Lord's List would have to go through an open competition, except the Service cadets—the sons of officers killed in action or drowned—who would require, however, to obtain 660 marks, and the Colonial cadets. Instruction in Latin on the Britannia had lately been laid aside, all the teaching having been required to get the cadets through the scientific course.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
referred to the experiments under Mr. Froude, and mentioned that provision was made in this Vote for only £250 for rewards; although, he believed, the cost of the experiments at Torquay was very much larger. It was understood that there would be a new arrangement for this year, but he could not detect any trace of it; and it would be very satisfactory to know that provision was made in the Estimates for carrying on those experiments from time to time with regard to ships of the best form and stability. Provision had been made for their continuation, and he had directed that the matter should be mentioned to his successor at the Admiralty.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, there was a sum of £200 every month provided for the experiments under Mr. Froude. That came under sub-head H, Section 2, Vote 10, in which £18,000 was taken for experimental purposes, as against £12,000 last year.
§ MR. JENKINS
urged the importance of good sea-going ships being attached to the Britannia for training purposes, instead of training brigs, so that there should be no more terrible disasters such as they had had to deplore in the past two years.
§ MR. T. BRASSEY
stated that that subject had been constantly and carefully considered by the Naval Members of the Admiralty. The present view of the Board was that the cadets were too young to be sent out at once in sea-going vessels in attendance on the Britannia. The brigs attached to the Britannia were managed with great skill and success, and under the arrangements made there was no reason to apprehend danger.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
explained that the amount set down in Section 2, Vote 10, related to all matters of shipbuilding and guns.
§ MR. R. W. DUFF,
again referring to the training of cadets, said, that, as he understood, cadets were not to be sent to sea until they were 17 or 18 years of age. He thought, however, that they should have some preliminary training in a sea-going vessel before going to sea, in order to get their sea-legs. They were to leave three years' instruction on the Britannia before going to sea; but he wished to know what the Admiralty would do during that time to train them as seamen?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, there was no intention to alter the arrangements in this respect. He did not think anyone had urged that boys were to be turned into seamen before they were 15 or 16 years old, and the Board of Admiralty were of opinion that up to that age the cadets required education to prepare them intellectually for the life they were to lead.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (6.) £71,917, Victualling Yards at Home and Abroad.1468
§ (7.) £65,969, Medical Establishments at Home and Abroad.
§ (8.) £22,138, Marine Divisions.
§ (9.) £70,460, Medicines and Medical Stores, &c.
§ (10.) £10,069, Martial Law, &c.
§ CAPTAIN PRICE
wished to know why there was an increase of £650 for the subsistence of prisoners in prisons abroad?
§ MR. TREVELYAN,
in reply, said, that the increase was merely a nominal increase, for a corresponding reduction had been made in Vote I., Sub-head D.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he thought some provision was necessary in various parts of the world for dealing with prisioners who had not been received in Consular prisons. There were very few prisons abroad in which naval prisoners could be confined; but as corporal punishment was to be abolished, such provision was more necessary than it had hitherto been. It would be inhuman to keep prisoners on board ships in hot climates; and it would not conduce to discipline if there was no possibility of inflicting the real punishment which the sentences implied. And to defer punishment until a prisoner was brought home, allowing him, in the meanwhile, to discharge his ordinary duty, was unreasonable.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, the Admiralty had given orders for careful inquiries to be made by the Admirals in command of the various stations abroad as to the accommodation in the prisons.
§ Vote agreed to.
(11.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £127,421, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expenses of various Miscellaneous Services, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1882.
MR, W. H. SMITH
said, he found, wider sub-section C, a reduction of £5,000 for the passage money of officers, &c., and he should like some information upon that. He was aware that, as a rule, the actual cost of the passage of officers, seamen, and marines was rather in excess of the amount voted; and from time to time the deficiency had to be made up as the circumstances seemed to require. It was true that 1469 during the last year the reliefs for the ships of the Australian Squadron were sent out by the Raleigh, and that reduced the average cost for the year; but he should be glad to know whether the Admiralty had sufficient information to justify the conclusion that the average cost would be reduced, because, although reliefs for Australia would not be required this year, other reliefs would be required; and he was afraid the average was not likely to be diminished.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
asked whether it was true that the Suez Canal tolls were higher than they were before this country bought its shares in the undertaking?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
thought the Secretary to the Admiralty was less likely to be able to answer the last question than some experienced owner of merchant vessels. With regard to subsection C, the Admiralty thought the arrangements proposed by the Transport Department were satisfactory. They consisted in minute details, and on every effort being made to send out as many sailors as possible in troopships and transports instead of paying for passage by other vessels.
§ MR. JENKINS
said, complaints had been made some years ago with reference to the charges for pilotage in the Suez Canal. He did not think much alteration had been made; and the charges were excessive. He hoped the attention of the Admiralty would be called to the matter; and that some recommendation would be made to the English Directors in the Company in order to obtain a reduction of the excessive rates, which amounted to one franc per ton.
§ MR. STUART RENDEL
asked for some information as to whether the proposed Committee would sit at Woolwich or not, observing that, in a matter of this kind, the locality of the Committee was of importance.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
wished to know what had been done with regard to war medals for marines and sailors engaged in South Africa? The Secretary of State for War had stated recently that, with a few exceptions, the soldiers had received their medals. He thought it was desirable to distribute the medals to the Marines and Navy as soon as possible.
desired information respecting the Metropolitan Police who 1470 were engaged in the Dockyards. Subhead U applied not only to the Water Police, but to the Metropolitan Police employed in the Dockyards. Properly speaking, he ought to raise his present question on Vote 6; but, inasmuch as there were usually a large number of interesting questions raised on that Vote, he had never been able to intrude upon the attention of the Committee when Vote 6 had been under discussion in order to ask for particulars in relation to this very important matter. The Committee was, no doubt, aware that under 23 & 24 Vict., c. 139, the old Dockyard police, who were servants of the Admiralty, and who were paid for entirely as Admiralty servants, were turned over to the Metropolitan Police Force, and became available for all Metropolitan police purposes. The old Dockyard police were appointed and discharged by the Admiralty, and were only expected to perform Admiralty duty. They, however, could now be transferred by the Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police from one Dockyard to another, or they could be sent up to the Metropolis to be employed in the regular divisional work of police. That was to say that, for all the purposes of service, the old Dockyard police were absorbed in the Metropolitan police; but their pay and pensions remained distinct. They were still paid by the Admiralty, and their retiring allowances were regulated by the old Dockyard scale, and were charged upon the Navy Votes. He did not believe they were paid directly by the Admiralty; but by the Commissioners of Police out of funds provided by the Admiralty. Now, the scale was somewhat inferior to that under which the Metropolitan police were paid; and, therefore, there was this state of things—that the old Dockyard police, having been turned into Metropolitan policemen, and having now to perform all the duties of such policemen, found themselves in an inferior position as regarded their pensions. This matter was brought before a Committee which sat some years ago under the presidency of the hon. Baronet the Member for West Essex (Sir Henry Selwin Ibbetson), upon the pensions of the Metropolitan police. Of course, it was shown that the Metropolitan police were paid out of the superannuation fund of their own, and that they could 1471 not be expected to share that fund with the Dockyard police. The Admiralty being unwilling to augment the pensions of the latter, and the Metropolitan police being also unwilling that they should share in their superannuation fund, they were in the disagreeable position of finding they had an inferior pension to that granted to a class of men amongst whom they were serving. He thought it only fair that these men should be placed upon the same footing as the Metropolitan police; and what he now desired to ask was whether the Admiralty had considered the matter, and, if they had not, whether they would do so; and whether there was any probability that they would be able to recommend such an augmentation of the pensions of the old Dockyard police as would place them in the same position with regard to retiring allowances as the Metropolitan police?
§ CAPTAIN HERON-MAXWELL
said, the Government ought to give them some valid reason why medals had not been issued to the Naval Brigade engaged in the recent campaigns.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, that with regard to the question of the Dockyard police, which had been raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), he had to say it was a matter which concerned the Commissioners of the Metropolitan police. He did not think it ought to have been brought before that Committee; but he would undertake that it should be inquired into. With regard to the war medals, undoubtedly a grievance existed; but he hoped he would be able to give what the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Heron-Maxwell) would consider a valid reason why the medals had not been issued. The reason of the delay was that a proper record of services had not been kept at the time of war, and that now the Admiralty were under the necessity of ascertaining from Commodore Richards what men were entitled to medals. He was sorry for the delay; but the medal was now in preparation, and the work was being pushed forward. As a proof that the Admiralty were alive to the importance of the matter, they had ordered that whenever a Naval Brigade was sent on shore a careful record of services should be kept; and it was expected that, in any future war, Naval 1472 Brigades would be rewarded as promptly as the Army.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
supposed his hon. Friend would not now object to report Progress. There were two other Votes which might give occasion to some observations. On the Transport Vote, for instance, some explanation might be required.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next;
§ Committee to sit again upon Monday next.