HC Deb 17 February 1887 vol 310 cc1771-2
SIR HENRY TYLER (Great Yarmouth)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Under what authority and by whose orders the recent trials to test the cutlasses and bayonets on board the Active, the Volage, the Rover, the Devastation, and the Indus were carried out, and why those ships were especially selected for such tests; whether those trials were made without previous reference to or communication with the War Department, as the Department responsible for the proper quality of the weapons supplied to the Navy; were the trials thus made of a character satisfactorily to determine whether the weapons tested were of a quality to comply with reasonable requirement "in attack or defence" on active service, especially the test of Placing the point of a sword in the deck and applying pressure at the handle till the point was turned about 50° from the straight line; Were any, and if so what, precautions taken to insure uniformity in the results, as affording indications of the quality and temper of the metal of the weapons tested; and in regard to weapons reported to be "defective," were they to be considered defective as regards the particular tests applied, or in respect of their use "in attack or defence" in actual warfare?


In the case of the Active, Volage, and Rover, one of the weapons having become bent in use, the order for testing the others was given by Commodore Fitzroy, commanding the Training Squadron. In the case of the Indus, the Commander-in-Chief at the port issued the order. The order for testing the weapons on the Devastation was given by the captain of the ship. The above ships were not specially selected; and the trials were made without previous reference to or communication with either the Admiralty or War Office. I stated the other day what the nature of the test was. And as that test will form the subject of the inquiry by the independent Committee nominated by the Secretary of State for War, my hon. and gallant Friend will not expect me to enter into controversial points connected with that investigation. It was clearly the duty of any officer, if he thought the arms defective, to test them.