HC Deb 17 March 1887 vol 312 cc697-700

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That 62,500 men and boys be employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1888, including 12,900 Royal Marines.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

On this Vote I should like to say a word or two with regard to the use to which some of our gunboats and Marines have been put. At this early hour (2.5) I do not intend to say much; I only want to show how ridiculous it is to use gunboats and Marines as they have been used lately in the North of Scotland. The first time they were used there was about five years ago. The Liberal Government sent a gunboat and a force of Marines to coerce half-a-dozen crofters who had allowed some stock to graze on certain hills where it was said they had no right to do so. The Marines could not arrest these unfortunate crofters; indeed, all the captain could do was to suggest to the men that they should go to Edinburgh to be arrested. One-half of these so-called criminals—a Royal Naval Re-servo man and others—went to Edinburgh, for the purpose of being arrested. I believe they had to wait a week bo-fore any of them were arrested. The circumstances attending the second employment of the Marines were pretty similar to those on the first occasion. A gunboat and Marines were sent to arrest a crofter. They arrested this crofter, kept him in prison for a week, and then turned him out without trying him. The man is now bringing an action in the Scotch Courts for damages. Now, our fishing districts have been the best nurseries for both Marines and bluejackets. In the district visited by these Marines we have a large number of Naval Reserve men; but if this course is persevered in, we shall lose the district as a recruiting ground. The men of the Highlands have a great contempt for the Commissioners of Supply in the county; but up to now they have had great respect for the Marines and bluejackets. They will soon lose this respect, if the Marines are sent often on such errands as I have described.


Perhaps it will be regarded as an acceptable suggestion that we should now adjourn. I do not wish to make a Motion to that effect; but simply to suggest that the Committee may think it worth while to report Progress. No one seems inclined to answer the remarks of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark). Perhaps, at the present moment, hon. Members are not possessed of facts to enable them to do so. [A laugh.] One of the hon. Gentleman's countrymen thinks it worth while to laugh, but not worth while to answer his speech. I think it is not unbecoming in me to suggest that we have gone far enough to-night, so far as talk is concerned. ["Hear!"] Well, I do not think the night has been marked by any serious effort at progressive legislation; but, so far as talk has gone, we have a fair record from all sides of the House. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have talked to-night who have scarcely broken their ''duck" during the Session so far. This is supposed to be a festive night for men who recognize the nationality I claim; but I do not pretend to say it has been a very festive matter for us to listen to the wearisome debate which has taken place to-night. Nothing practical has been done, or can be done, and therefore I suggest, most respectfully, that the Chairman should now report Progress.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sitagain."—(Mr. Edward Harrington.)

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

I must confess I never hoard reasons less reasonable why we should report Progress. I hope the Committee will unanimously agree that we should proceed at once to the despatch of Business.


I should like to ask the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. II. Smith) what are his intentions? If he gets the first Votes for money and men under the regular Naval Estimates, will he stop there, and not take the Naval Supplementary Estimates, or ask for the Vote on Account of the Civil Service?

MR. DEASY (Mayo, W.)

I understand that this Vote will be the only one taken to-night, and, in that case, I do not think my lion. Friend (Mr. Edward Harrington) would do well to press his Motion to a Division. I am quite sure he will accede to the general wish of Members of the House, and allow this Vote to be taken.


I should like to receive an answer from the Government before we proceed any further. If they get the Votes for money and men, will they agree to report Progress?


I think the discussion has been such that would warrant us in taking the Supplementary Estimates, and it certainly would be convenient to the Committee that such a course should be adopted. We have been discussing the Naval Estimates the whole night, and if the Committee desire to postpone the Vote on Account of Civil Services, I shall not object; but, at the same time, I think it would be a great waste of public time to do so.

Question put, and negatived.

Original Question again proposed.


I should like to know from the First Lord of the Treasury whether, if we give him the two regular Votes of these Naval Estimates, and the Supplementary Naval Estimate, he will not persevere with the Vote on Account?


That is what I understood the First Lord of the Treasury to say.


He said, if it was the wish of the Committee.


I said distinctly that I should like to take the Votes for men and money, and the Supplementary Naval Estimates, and then, if it was the wish of the Committee to postpone the Vote on Account, I would postpone it until Monday; but I thought it would be a misfortune, looking at the pressure of Public Business.


In the event of the Vote on Account being postponed, will the right hon. Gentleman bring the regular Civil Service Estimates on on Monday?


I will say tomorrow what I will do on Monday.

MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)

I think we should save time if the First Lord of the Treasury would express his own opinion as to the postponement of the Vote on Account.


I will not go on with it.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(2.) £2, 940,700, Wages, &c. to Seamen and Marines.

(3.) £277,000, Supplementary, Navy Services, 1886–7.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.

Committee to sit again To-morrow.