HC Deb 20 March 1884 vol 286 cc314-30

, in rising to move— That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and Report upon the expenditure incurred for the professional training and technical instruction of the Officers of the Royal Marine Artillery and Royal Marine Light Infantry, the position these Officers occupy, and the duties they perform, both afloat and ashore, when serving under the Naval Discipline Act, and further to inquire and Report whether the administration of the Royal Marine Forces adequately provides for the due representation of their special interests, and sufficiently secures economy and efficiency of the public service, said, that two reasons had induced him to give Notice of the Motion he had just road—the first, that having no personal interest, beyond the interest that all hon. Members who looked to the state of the defences of the country no doubt felt in the question, he could not be accused of prejudice; the second, that it would give an opportunity to hon. Members, who had so often spoken on the question before, to fill up the gaps he feared would be apparent in the remarks he would venture to make. In this Resolution he asked the Government to pledge themselves to nothing. He merely asked for this inquiry as an act of justice to a deserving body of men. Last year he seconded a similar Motion made by the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), the chief reason given for resisting which was the objection felt to the demand that there should be an officer of Marines on the Board of Admiralty. Without having altered his own opinion, he did not now put forward that demand. A Committee could in a short time ascertain whether the present system was a good one or not; and he thought the Marines would be willing to abide by their decision. Rightly or wrongly, dissatisfaction existed through all branches of the Marino Force; and the Admiralty should be glad of the opportunity of vindicating their administration, especially as the request for inquiry was not made in a. spirit of hostility. He wished to call attention to the expense annually incurred in the support and maintenance of the Marine Forces, and to show that the benefits which the country ought to receive from the expenditure of a large sum of money upon those Forces were practically thrown away. He desired also to point out what appeared to him to be a defect in the present administration of the Forces. It was difficult to arrive at the annual sum expended; but he believed he was correct in saying that it amounted to £l,000:000. The pay and pensions of Marine officers alone amounted to £160,000 a-year; and before the country could make use of the services of a Naval Marine Artillery officer a sum of about £900 was expended upon his education and training. Owing to the fact that the sum for this instruction was scattered over several Votes—such as the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, the Establishment of the Excellent, and the Ordnance Votes—it was impossible to arrive at a perfectly accurate estimate, and he would be glad if the Secretary to the Admiralty would tell the House what the exact sum was; but they knew the pay, while under instruction, of a Marine Artillery officer was £350, and that of a Marine Light Infantry officer £150; and he believed, from a careful estimate prepared for him, that the instruction of a Marine Artillery officer cost £550. making up the sum of £900 above referred to. It would be interesting to know the relative costs of converting a civilian into an efficient Marine—Artillery or Infantry—officer, and of imparting Artillery and Infantry information to a naval officer. One thing was clear—in one, case the whole expense was incurred to make the civilian a scientific and practical officer fit to command a trained Artillery force, and to perform the duties required of him by land and sea; in the other case, the naval officer had to master so many other subjects, that the Artillery instruction and cost thereof were merely incidental. The special grievances of which the Marines complained were the hopelessness of advancement of officers of rank, the non-employment of Marines in the Intelligence and Ordnance Departments, the careful exclusion of Marino officers from employment on Committees on military and naval subjects, and the fact that there was no proportion of Marine officers on naval courts martial. It was well understood that captains of ships and the officers serving under them must be responsible for discipline on board; but when the Marines were on shore, officers of that Force should be responsible for the discipline of the men in the operations in which they might be engaged. He believed that the Marines were perfectly satisfied while serving under the Army Discipline Act; but when serving under the Naval Discipline Act and the Admiralty Instructions, the whole system of discipline was entirely changed. The responsibility of officers became nominal; they had no power to punish their own men, and they themselves might be tried by captains and commanders of ships without any one of their own body sitting on the court martial. This was extremely prejudicial to the Service, humiliating to the officers, and demoralizing to the men. It was a notorious fact that a Marine officer engaged in military operations might be ordered about by any young executive naval officer. When Marine Artillery were landed, they were not employed as Artillery, but as Infantry, under the command, perhaps, of some young naval officer who was, perhaps, not in the nursery when the officer of Marines was already in the Service. He was not aware whether the Secretary to the Admiralty had seen a piece called Iolanthe, which was very popular last year. One of the principal characters in that play was named Strephon, who was in the extraordinary position of being a fairy down to the waist, but below that he was only mortal; when he wished to enter a room by the keyhole, which was rather the custom among fairies, he found that up to a certain point he could pass through the keyhole with considerable ease, but the moment that point was reached, the more active part of his person was left dangling hopelessly outside. That, in his opinion, very aptly described the present position of the Force of Marines in relation to the Board of Admiralty. He wished to know whether it was the opinion of the Admiralty that the work for the performance of which the officers of the Marine Artillery were specially trained could be equally well done by officers of the Navy who had no such special training; and, if that were their opinion, what was the object of spending money on the instruction of Marine Artillery officers? He held that clear rules ought to be laid down for the guidance of officers of Marines when they were used as a land force, and that the men when landed ought to be commanded by their own officers. He did not intend on that occasion to press for the addition of a Marine officer to the Board of Admiralty. He might be allowed to observe, however, that it was very curious that while the Marines were under the Board of Admiralty there was no one on that Board who possessed a knowledge of military requirements or with experience of the internal necessities of a military system. He only called attention to the subject, not to ask for an officer of Marines to be placed on the Board, but to see if it would not be possible for the existing powers of the Deputy Adjutant General to be extended. Referring to the employment of Marines in the neighbourhood of Suakin, he asked whether it was not a fact that they who were a trained military force were then placed under the command of a naval officer? Judging from the actions of the Board of Admiralty, it would seem that in their opinion military knowledge was most valuable on board ship and nautical knowledge on shore. Other questions to which he should like to have an answer were whether the Marine Force at Suakin was not considerably under-officered when the enemy was attacked, and whether the Marine Artillery were supplied with machine guns and light ordnance? Another matter to which he wished to call attention was the mode in which a force of Marines, consisting of 497 rank and file and 11 officers, had been convoyed from Malta to Alexandria. They were placed on board the Gilsland, in which there was boat accommodation for only 100 men—a circumstance which might have led to a terrible catastrophe. The decks had no scuppers, there was no moans of swinging the hammocks, there was but a limited allowance of water, the mess deck was filthy, the bulwarks only 2 feet high, with a rail above, and there was no protection from sun or rain. That such a large body of men should have been sent 1,000 miles on the open sea in winter with such a want of accommodation surely required explanation. There was some mystery about the chartering of the Gilsland, and he hoped they should be allowed to have the Report. He was informed that "the men went on board cheerfully, and agreed among themselves that there should be no grumbling." The cheerful way in which officers and men had taken the indignity was beyond all praise. There was some question of increasing the number of men in the Army. He would like to say a word for the Marines. He did not know whether hon. Members had seen the article bearing on this point in The Nineteenth Century, of May last, by General Schomberg. What the General proposed was that the Marines should be the constant auxiliary of the Army as well as the Navy, in peace as in war. General Schomberg said— The Marines are frequently employed as an auxiliary to the Army as well as the Navy—witness their services in Spain, Syria, China, India, Africa, and Egypt—but an auxiliary only in time of bitter need and war. Let the Marines be a standing and constant auxiliary to the Army as well as the Navy—in peace as in war—and augment them so as to enable them to furnish, portions of the Eastern, Western, Mediterranean, and, perhaps, eventually Australian garrisons. It would certainly be an advantage to the Line and Royal Artillery to be relieved of a portion of the burden of foreign service, which weighs heavily upon them, and, with the ever-recurring interruption of our small wars, renders the formation of a Reserve for the Army slow and difficult. If the Marines were raised in number so as to enable them to take a portion of routine Colonial service—say, at Malta or Gibraltar, Hong Kong or Bombay, and Halifax—this pressure would be considerably relieved; and the Navy would have a Reserve Force and a Landing Force to draw upon at all its outposts. Such a force at hand might have actually prevented some of our late minor wars. Moreover, the Marines, at their present diminished numbers, are a very inadequate Reserve for the Navy. If the late Egyptian Campaign had been a great war, the chief Naval Reserve would have been drained at the outset. After the Marine contingent had sailed for Egypt there remained in England loss than 100 trained Marine Artillerymen and 600 trained Marine Infantry. Is this a satisfactory condition for the first Reserve of the Navy? However admirable its training may be, its present strength in numbers is quite inadequate. One point more. Last year the Secretary to the Admiralty concluded his remarks by asking the House not to appoint the Committee, hut to leave the matter to the Government, who recognized the strong opinion that prevailed to discover whether it was necessary to do anything more. If they did not do what was necessary, then the House could call them to account. Well, nothing of any importance had been done; and now, as the Government had thrown down a challenge, the House ought to take it up and insist upon the appointment of the Committee for which he asked. If this question of Marine grievances was a bubble, the sooner it was burst the better. But if it was not a bubble, the longer the sense of grievance continued the greater the dissatisfaction would be. The Marines were always ready; they had shed their blood freely in every part of the globe, and their history was identified with the history of this country throughout the world. He begged to move the Resolution which stood in his name.


, in seconding the Motion, said, that the Marines were the last to complain, but they were the first to meet with a want of consideration from whatever Government happened to be in Office. The House was entitled to know the facts of the case with respect to the Gilsland. About 500 Marines had been sent out in the Poonah—a fine ship, capable of carrying a much greater number. On the arrival of the vessel at Malta they were transferred to the Gilsland, which was in a very filthy condition, to proceed to Alexandria. The officers and men of the Marines, however, had not uttered one word of complaint; if ordered to go in a dung-boat, they would have gone; their only object was to get to their destination as soon as possible, and to be the first in the field. But when he heard that the 38th Regiment was ordered not to embark in that vessel because it was not in a fit condition, he thought himself perfectly justified in calling attention to the subject. If his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty placed himself in the position of the officer in charge of these men, he would have sufficient pride in his corps to feel some discontent. He asked the other day whether the ship had not been condemned for carrying troops by the military authorities, and the hon. Gentleman said that it was in the hightest degree improbable that the military authorities had been consulted in the matter. Why was it improbable that the military authorities should have been consulted? It was strictly in accordance with the Queen's Regulations that a ship of that kind should be inspected. Those Regulations not only directed an inspection, but required that a Report of the inspection should be made-out. Some further explanation was required as to what happened on board the Gilsland. The reason given for transferring the Marines was that the vessel would only accommodate 400 men, but nearly 500 were sent out in her. It was not the first or even the second time that such a tiling had happened. It happened when the Marines were transferred from the Orontes to the Tamar at Gibraltar, the excuse then also being that the Tamar was not large enough to convey a Line regiment. There was a case in 1872 when the Juno was employed to take a battalion of Marines to Japan after having been condemned for the transport of troops. He was quite certain that if such a slight had been put upon a regiment of the Line, 50 military officers would have risen to denounce the proceeding. He wished also to inquire why it was the officers of Marines were never allowed to sit on courts martial held on members of that branch of the Service? He suggested that a clause should be added to the Naval Discipline Act providing for the amendment of the Regulations on that point. There could be no possible objection to that course, which he said had been attended with many advantages.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the expenditure incurred for the professional training and technical instruction of the Officers of the Royal Marine Artillery and Royal Marine Light Infantry, the position these Officers occupy, and the duties they perform, both afloat and ashore, when serving under the Naval Discipline Act, and further to inquire and report whether the administration of the Royal Marine Forces ade- quately provides for the clue representation of, their special interests, and sufficiently secures economy and efficiency of the public service,"—(Viscount Lewisham,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


wished to express his thanks to the noble Lord for bringing forward this Motion, and especially for his declaration that no censure on the Government was intended. He maintained that the naval policy of the Government should be held distinct and apart from any political considerations. There was no force in the Navy at one time more neglected than the Royal Marines, and none which had rendered such splendid services to the country abroad during recent years, especially in the late actions before Alexandria, at El Teb. and at Tamanieb. He was quite sure that the Admiralty intended no slight upon the Marines by placing them on board the Gilsland, but provided the best accommodation in their power. He thought the Government ought not to refuse to appoint a Committee. If the Marino Force was in n satisfactory condition, that fact would appear more clearly after inquiry. If it was not, the Committee would render an important service. The Royal Marines had assumed too commanding a position in the eyes of the country to have their claims put off by a mere official reply. What they wanted was a Committee of Inquiry to see that one of the most splendid forces in the Service was administered with the greatest possible economy and efficiency. For these reasons he cordially supported the Motion.


said, he also supported the Amendment of the noble Lord. Just before the commencement of the difficulties in Egypt some discussion arose as to the advisability of diminishing the numbers of the Marine Force. He was, however, bound to say that the services which had been rendered by the Marines, not only as a naval and military corps, but as a police force in Ireland, would probably remove all idea of decreasing the strength of the force. He thought that some steps should be taken to increase the numbers of the Corps, which had been reduced from 30,000 at the beginning of the century to 12,000 at the present time. He hoped that the Government would see their way, not only to grant the proposed Committee, but also to give it authority to act in the way he suggested, with a view to promoting, as it would also do, the efficiency of both the Army and the Navy.


complained that no Member of the Cabinet was present, and supposed that the subject was not worthy of their consideration. The Marines appeared to be a kind of outcast force, acknowledged neither by the Army nor the Navy; but he felt sure that if a Joint Committee of the Admiralty and the War Office were appointed, some valuable understanding might be arrived at with regard to this important branch of the Service. The Marines had rendered good service wherever they had been engaged, and had prevented battles being lost owing to their extreme steadiness, which resulted from there being a large proportion of old soldiers among them. But so little were they considered or noticed either by the authorities of the Army or the Navy, that in one of his despatches the General in command in Egypt never even mentioned the fact that the Marines were engaged in a battle which they had done much to win. He knew that many of the officers of this Corps were so dissatisfied with its present position that they were desirous to see it turned into a part of the Army. No doubt a brigade of that kind would be extremely useful. He did not know whether the Secretary to the Admiralty would be able to say anything about the unfortunate arrangement by which Marines, when landed, still remained under the command of an officer of the Navy, and that without the General in command having any direct authority over them. The Secretary to the Admiralty informed him last year that the position of the Marines was to be dealt with by legislation; and he believed that a Bill on the subject was actually introduced. But what he complained of was that the Government brought in Bills and did not pass them. He wished to impress upon the Secretary to the Admiralty that he should not only introduce a Bill, but pass it through Parliament. It was, however, useless to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, as he had no power to act. There ought really to be a Cabinet Minister present who would be able to give the House some assurance that the subject should be dealt with during the present Session. It was the unfortunate position of the present Government that necessary measures excited but little enthusiasm among their supporters, and that unless Ivy some legislative action they could create political capital there was but little chance of Bills being carried. He hoped the Committee would be appointed, and that their recommendations would stir the Government into action.


said, this question had been raised last year in another form. On that occasion he had supported the Government; but he was bound to say circumstances were very different this year, and that some inquiry into these statements, which were repeated year after year, would be advantageous in the public interest. This question ought to be debated without Party spirit. Experience had shown in late years that departmental inquiries had not satisfied the requirements put upon them, although he was afraid that nothing which was done within the walls of the Admiralty, whether the present or any other Government was in power, would entirely satisfy the claims made from time to time upon the Department by the different interests which might think themselves aggrieved. It seemed to him wise that an inquiry such as was suggested by the noble Lord should be made; and he thought it would be better that it should not be conducted by a Committee of the House, but by a Royal Commission, which should consider the very important questions raised by the Motion with reference to the professional training and technical instruction of officers in the Royal Marine Artillery and Royal Marine Light Infantry. The appointment of officers to these Corps was, in his view, a matter of extreme difficulty to every Board of Admiralty. he had been informed that of nine probationary officers last year only one passed the examination, which indicated a state of things that could not be satisfactory to those who had to administer so valuable a Corps as that to which the Motion of the noble Lord referred, and whose desire would, of course, be to secure the most suitable junior officers for the Corps. There could only be one opinion as to the high efficiency, gallantry, and usefulness of a Corps which had always discharged its duty, whenever and wherever called upon. The Marines were always perfectly ready for duty, and they always did their work admirably; a fact which was borne out by the figures furnished by the Secretary to the Admiralty, which showed that there was a larger proportion of efficients in the Marines—proportionately to the whole strength of the Corps—than in any other branch of the Service. These were not the only grounds on which he thought there should be a full consideration of the position in which the Marines stood as compared with other branches of the Service. The Motion of the noble Lord was very full and ample. It proposed not only that inquiry should be made as to whether the administration of the force sufficiently secured economy and efficiency of the Public Service; but it also proposed that inquiry should be made as to whether the administration of the Royal Marine Forces "adequately provides for the due representation of their special interests." He did not understand clearly the meaning of this phrase; because, as far as he knew, there was nothing which an officer of Marines would wish for less or wish to avoid more than a representation of special interests, their solo desire being to secure the complete efficiency of the branch of the Service to which they be longed. He hoped a Royal Commission would be appointed, because such an appointment would enable the Government in selecting the Members to go beyond the House of Commons, and obtain an inquiry and a Report which no ordinary Committee of the House could make or produce. The Admiralty during the past few years, owing, doubtless, to a necessity for economy, had been compelled to reduce the strength of the Marines by 600 men. he thought it I would be wise to reconsider the establishment of this branch of the Service, and to go back to what was, in his view, the opinion of the country, instead of acting on the view of any particular Board of Admiralty that might have been in Office. He hoped the Government would accede to the Motion of the noble Lord, I modified, as he (Mr. W. H. Smith) suggested it should be, in order to secure efficiency in a most important arm of the Service.


expressed his satisfaction and pleasure at the friendly tone—if he might so describe it—in which this Motion had been brought forward and dismissed. Even the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), who had a lively imagination, and evolved by its means a picture which was by no means flattering of the administration of the Admiralty, did not apply it to the present Government, but to the normal state of things existing there. He could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that, although he had been two years at the Admiralty, he had failed to detect any contemptuous feeling for the Marines amongst his Colleagues at the Board. The noble Lord had asked the House to appoint a Select Committee to inquire as to three distinct questions in reference to the Marine branch of the Service. Taking the proposals in inverse order, he would deal first with the last branch of the proposal, which was that the Committee should inquire— Whether the administration of the Royal Marine Forces adequately provides for the due representation of their special interests, and sufficiently secures economy and efficiency of the Public Service. The right hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the House had alluded to the awkwardness of the phrase, "due representation of their special interests;" and he (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) could not think of anything less likely to secure "economy and efficiency" than the appointment to the Board of Admiralty of an officer whose function it should be to specially represent the interests of the Marines. He could only repeat his statement of last year as to the nature of the business which came before the Board. There were few cases in which a distinctly Marine question came before the Board at all. The business was conducted under the direction of the First Lord, by the Senior Naval Lord, and the Deputy Adjutant General of Marines; and he conceived that no system which could be invented could better represent the relation between the Marines and the Navy. On board ship, and, in fact, under all circumstances, the Marines were essentially a part of the Navy. The duty of the Board was to secure the efficiency of the Service as a whole. Any attempt to set up the Marines as a separate Corps from the Navy would be a mistake, even in the interests of the Marines themselves; for the Board, as at present constituted, most adequately, in his opinion, represented the relations between the Marines and the Navy. He did not think, therefore, that there was any ground for inquiry as far as the third branch of the noble Lord's Motion was concerned. The second part of the Motion had reference to the position which officers of Marines occupied, and the duties they performed when serving both afloat and ashore under the Naval Discipline Act. As to their position when afloat, he had heard it argued that they ought—of course, under the captain of the ship in which they served—to be entirely responsible for the discipline of their men; and he admitted that there was a great deal to be said in favour of that argument; but there was an obvious inconvenience, in that seamen and Marines serving in the same ship would be under different discipline for offences which might be of a precisely similar character. With regard I to the relative position of seamen and Marines on shore, he had made last year a statement of the views of the Government on the subject. When Marines served on shore as a distinct Corps in conjunction with the Army there was no difficulty, because they were placed under the Army Act. But occasions arose, as, for instance, in 1882 at Alexandria, when they were temporarily serving on shore, and were subject to recall to their ships at any moment; and it would then be inconvenient to place them under the Army Act, as they might be one day: under one discipline and the next day under the other. But if such a detachment remained subject to the Navy Act, reference had to be made, for purposes; of discipline, to the officers of the ships. This was felt to be a serious inconvenience and grievance on the part of: Marine officers. It was, therefore, the desire of the Government to give the senior officer commanding a detachment the power of punishment. A clause to that effect had been introduced into the Naval Discipline Amendment Bill of last year, which, having passed the House of Lords, the Government had very reluctantly withdrawn, owing to the pressure of Public Business; and it was intended to introduce a similar measure this year, as the Go- vernment thought that no further time should be lost in limiting the necessary alterations in the law in this respect. It appeared to him, however, that to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the discipline of the Royal Marine Forces would be a very unusual course. The question of discipline was one of the greatest, delicacy, and would be treated in a far better manner by a body of men of practical experience than by a Select Committee of the House of Commons. He was afraid, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government, with every desire to assist the noble Lord's wishes, and the wishes of those who supported him, would be unable to assent to this part of the noble Lord's proposal. With regard to the noble Lord's proposal that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire into and report upon the expenditure incurred for the professional training and technical instruction of the officers of the Royal Marine Artillery and Royal Marine Light Infantry, without at all being understood to condemn the present system, he thought an independent inquiry into the subject might be of great assistance to the Admiralty; and the question was one which Her Majesty's Government were quite willing, if hon. Members desired it, should be referred to a Select Committee of that House, which was a proper and a fitting tribunal to refer such an inquiry to. The large number of probationers who had failed to pass showed that there was something wrong with the existing arrangements. With regard to the other matters which had been referred to by the noble Lord and by the hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Captain Price), he could only declare in the most positive terms that there had been no intention whatever to put an indignity upon the Royal Marines, or to subject them to any discomfort beyond that which was unavoidable. As many officers had been sent to Suakin with the Marines from the Mediterranean as could be spared in view of a contemplated landing at Alexandria. The arrangements had been made mainly under the advice of the Commander-in-Chief on the spot, and there had been no desire to impose upon the Marines any services which were not proper and usual. Coming to the great question of the Gilsland, he again entirely disclaimed any intention of treating the Marines worse than battalions of the Line were treated. It must be remembered that, the arrangements for securing transports in the Mediterranean to convey the troops were not made in the ordinary way, as in time of peace, but by telegraph. The Gilsland was one of the ships in the Port of Malta which were available for transport. She had just concluded a successful voyage, she was in good condition, and was owned by a good firm; and exactly similar ships had taken the regiments from Suez to Suakin. He must remark upon this point that no complaint whatever had been made of this ship by any officer or man convoyed by her, the only complaint with regard to her that had reached his ears being made by the noble Lord and by the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Captain Price). He must repeat that he was satisfied that this complaint did not originate with the officers and men of the Royal Marines who were engaged in the expedition; and he was afraid that those who made the complaint were doing the Corps a very sorry service. The Government had received no information that the authorities had refused to allow troops of the Line to proceed by the ship; and, inasmuch as the vessel had been engaged for the express purpose of conveying the Marines, he did not see how the military authorities could have had an opportunity of inspecting her. His answer, therefore, to the noble Lord was that the Government would not object to the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the system adopted for the appointment and preliminary training of officers of the Marine Artillery and Marine Light Infantry; and if that met the views of hon. Members he should be willing to move it on some subsequent occasion; but he must oppose the particular Motion of the noble Lord. No Board of Admiralty had done so much for the Marines in the same number of years as the present Board. They had increased the pay of the men to an extent represented by the sum of £24,000 a year; they had equalized the promotion and the prospects of the officers; and they had conferred other smaller advantages, he might add that last summer a Committee was appointed at the War Office to consider the question of the employment of Marine officers with the Army cither as adjutants of the Auxiliary Forces or on the General Staff. That Committee, was presided over by his hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office, and. one of its Members was Sir Francis Festing, then Assistant Adjutant General of Royal Marines. Sir Francis Festing did not induce the Committee to agree to all that he proposed; but his views were fully expressed before the Committee, and he was highly gratified by the spirit in which they considered the claims of the Marines. The Committee made recommendations for facilitating the employment of Marine officers, as far as that was possible according to the Army system. Nothing was further from the intention of the Admiralty than to do anything to check or discourage the high spirit and the zeal of both the officers and the men of this force. We had often to depend upon them in emergencies; but even if we had not, there could be no question about the high spirit and the attainments of the officers, and the solid, sterling qualities of the men. If any ground for discontent existed in the force the Admiralty would do what they could to remove it; but they were unable to assent to the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the whole subject mentioned in the noble Lord's Motion, because such a course would not be in accordance with usage, nor, in their opinion, conducive to the public interest.


said, he thought the country was indebted to his noble Friend (Viscount Lewisham) for advocating the claims of this distinguished Corps. He must confess that he was disappointed at the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty; yet he was glad that he had announced the willingness of the Government to go so far as he had stated. While great compliments were paid to the Marines, yet, so far as their grievances were concerned, very little was clone for them. He did not find, from the speech of the hon. Gentleman, that any of the grievances set forth were in any way contradicted. There might be some difficulty in putting officers of the Marine Forces on the Admiralty Board; but whenever the good things were given away they never found their way to the Marines. The Marines were somehow always left out; and he did not for a moment believe that men whose conduct was so distinguished in all parts of the world, in every kind of service, would continually come into that House with grievances if those grievances did not exist. It was said that if they gave the Admiralty time, no doubt everything would be set right. He did not say that it was the fault of any Board of Admiralty; but, clearly, there was something wrong about the system by which this gallant Corps was always left in the lurch.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 63; Noes 36: Majority 27.—(Div. List, No. 47.)

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," again proposed.