HC Deb 03 August 1888 vol 329 cc1413-5

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether it is the fact that sufficient money was not provided to carry out the Dockyard programme at Devonport; whether he can state where the savings are to come from to pay for the repairs by contract of the Achilles, and how much such savings amount to; whether such savings could be given towards the repairs of the Achilles at the Dockyard, and whether he will get a tender from the Dockyard authorities for comparison with those asked for from private firms; whether it is the fact that much time and labour is necessarily expended in getting out the specification, which, added to the contract price, would make it greater than the cost of repairing in the Dockyard; whether the masts, rigging, and boilers are excluded from the contract, or that these are to be supplied to the contractor by the Dockyard; whether riggers in a private yard have the requi- site knowledge of a man-of-war's fitting to be independent of an Admiralty officer's superintendence; whether the gun mountings will be required to be completed in the Dockyard; whether his attention has been called to the public remarks of Admiral Grant, Admiral Superintendent of the Devonport Dockyard, to the effect that if his hands were as free as the manager of a private yard, he "would be able to do just as efficient and far better work;" whether he has had pointed out to him the statements made before the Committee of this House by Mr. Elgar, Mr. Deadman, and others, showing the large savings in repairs and shipbuilding in the Dockyards; whether, in view of these facts, he will re-consider the question of sending the Dockyard built ship Achilles to a private firm for repairs; and, whether he can give the reason for the repeated discharges in Her Majesty's Dockyards after the repeated official statements that they would be unnecessary?


It is not the fact that insufficient money was provided for the Devonport Dockyard programme. What the precise amount of savings will be from which the cost of the repairs of the Achilles will be defrayed cannot now be given. Whether the ship will be repaired in the Dockyard or by contract will depend entirely on what will prove best for economy and the quick and efficient performance of the work. The cost of making a specification of the work to be done will be very small; this will have to be done, whether the work is done by the Dockyard or by contract. There are already boilers in store suitable for the Achilles which will be fitted to her, whether repaired in the Dockyard or by contract. The rigging will be dealt with in the Dockyard, as will also be the work in connection with the gun mountings. The work done by contract is under the superintendence of Admiralty officers. My attention has not been called to the remarks by Admiral Grant. The evidence of Mr. Elgar was to the effect that work is done cheaper in the Dockyard than heretofore; but I am not aware he has ever asserted that the Dockyards can now compete with the private yards. There have been no large discharges from the Dockyards; only those necessary for the re-adjustment of the numbers in the various trades have been carried out.