HC Deb 24 May 1886 vol 305 cc1971-3

(3.) £207,600, Coast Guard Service and Royal Naval Reserves, &c.

(4.) £113,200, Scientific Branch.


I wish to ask a question as to the Training School for engineer students. I understand that very considerable alterations are to be made in the system; and, as far as I can make out, many of them merit our warmest approval. But there is one matter which I should like to inquire into. I understand that the junior students are to be trained exclusively at Devonport, and that the senior students are to be transferred to Portsmouth. As a matter of fact, there are about 180 engineer students altogether, and 90 of them are trained at Devonport and 90 at Portsmouth, and they remain at one place or the other throughout their course of instruction. It is now arranged that they are only to remain three years at Devonport, and then be transferred to Portsmouth to complete their course. What I want to know is, what is the reason for this change? It will be inconvenient to the students, and it will certainly be highly inconvenient to the parents. There is one reason why I think this transference should not take place, and that is because it will do away with all that healthy spirit of rivalry which has hitherto existed between the two training schools, and which has done so much good. Another reason I have for objecting to the change is that if you separate the students you get rid of that check which the pressure of the older students exercises upon the younger ones, and which is productive of so much good. The Admiralty, however, may have good reasons for the change; but if they have, why are the younger students to be kept at Devonport and the seniors taken to Portsmouth, because everybody knows that the facilities for training engineer students at Devonport are far better than those at Portsmouth? At Devonport they had a very handsome Institution, which has been provided during the last few years, while at Portsmouth the students have to live on an old hulk. Then, again, there is this question—and it is of far greater importance than anything else—that, of the students who have passed their examination of late, Devonport has been far ahead of Portsmouth. Of the 24 who passed last year there were only two from Portsmouth, and these were the 8th and 16th on the list. These all appear to me to be arguments in favour of retaining the senior students at Devonport, where the facilities are much the better, and transferring the juniors to Portsmouth. On the other side, it is said that the students have now to undergo a course of torpedo practice, and that the facilities are much better at Portsmouth than at Devonport. That cannot be so, however, because a Torpedo School has been fitted up at Devonport, and is quite as good as that which exists at Portsmouth. I shall be exceedingly glad if the right hon. Gentleman will give me some explanation on these points.


I shall be glad to give my hon. and gallant Friend all the information I can on this subject. I agree with all that he has said as to the School at Devonport having secured better results than Portsmouth; but the proposal which is not yet complete, but is still under consideration, was made on the recommendation of a Committee of Inquiry. That Committee was composed of naval men, and men engaged in the Naval College; and there is no doubt that they went into the subject, as to the advantages and disadvantages of Portsmouth and Devonport, most thoroughly. After having done so, they were in favour of Devonport being reserved for the younger students, and Portsmouth for the seniors; and I think my hon. and gallant Friend will see eventually that they had good grounds for so reporting. It is proposed that at Portsmouth there shall be an University Professor of very high attainments. He will be supported by several, at least three, other assistant teachers; and altogether the School or College will be of a superior character to that of Devonport. At the same time, however, the School at Devonport will be kept very much on its present footing. There is no reason for interfering with its status; but it is thought that there is a great advantage in the younger students going to one College and the older to another. When the proposal is carried out, and assented to by the Treasury, I think the hon. and gallant Member will find that it is one which will be of great advantage to the students, and will result in much greater benefits to them than the present system.


Is the Marlborough to be maintained, or will the students be transferred to a College at Portsmouth?


That is a large question, and one which has not been considered; but I have no doubt that some change will be made in that respect.


I have no objection to the scheme which my right hon. Friend has just explained, and I wish to thank him for the pains which he has taken to obtain improved teaching for the older students at Portsmouth. At the same time, I hope that he will not allow any reduction to be made in the status of the School at Devonport, or in the quality of the teaching there.

Vote agreed to.

(5.) £812,900, Half-Pay, Reserved Half-Pay, and Retired Pay to Officers of the Navy and Marines.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;

Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.

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