HC Deb 06 September 1887 vol 320 cc1357-8

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether the Admiralty declined to take over the Australia on account of defective work; whether the extra cost is to be made good by the contractors or by the Admiralty; whether more than one Survey or Report has been made, in which it is stated that the ship was not built according to specification in many particulars; that the torpedo arrangements were faulty; that the racers had not been fitted with the care necessary for the safe working of the guns; and that the quick firing guns had not been placed on hard wood, in the manner such work is done in the Dockyards, and so forth; whether the Dockyard officials have recommended the retention of a large sum out of the balance remaining unpaid to the contractors; whether the Phaeton and Galatea, the Archer, and other contract-built ships have required alterations and repairs, at heavy cost to the Admiralty; and, whether he will grant a Return of the cost of alterations and repairs of ships built by private firms during the last five or six years, and also lay upon the Table of the House the various Reports made by the officials of the Admiralty or Dockyards on the Australia and other ships handed over by the shipbuilders?

THE FIRST LORD (Lord GEORGE HAMILTON) () Middlesex, Ealing

The Admiralty have not delined to take over the Australia. The Report of Survey is satisfactory; but some few minor items have been left incomplete, or will require adjustment. The cost of completing these in accordance with the contract will be paid by the contractors. The racers to her guns and the sills to torpedo ports require slight adjustment. The stands for the quick-firing guns have been laid on hard wood; but there is a mistake of about five-eighths of an inch as to the height required. In accordance with the usual practice and with the provisions of the contract, a sum of money has been kept back to cover the cost of any defects or deficiencies that may be discovered. With regard to other contract-built ships, some defects have occurred in the boilers of three of the vessels of the Archer class, which are being made good by the contractors. The defects in the machinery of the Phaeton occurred after the expiration of her 12 months' guarantee from contractors, and were consequently made good at the cost of the Admiralty. The hulls of these ships have been built satisfactorily. The Galatea is still in the contractors' hands at Glasgow. There will be no objection to give the Return relating to the cost of alterations and repairs of ships built by contract. The Reports of Admiralty and Dockyard officers are, however, made for the information of the Admiralty, and are confidential.