HC Deb 06 August 1888 vol 329 cc1805-13

Resolutions [4th August] reported.

Resolutions 1 to 5 agreed to.

Resolution 6.

MR. R. W. DUFF (Banffshire)

said, that in consequence of an appeal made to him by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury on Saturday last, he had deferred puffing a question then to the First Lord of the Admiralty or to the Secretary of State for War. He stated on Saturday his estimate of the number of guns which would be required for the Land Services and the Navy. He estimated that there would be 160 guns above 9 inches diameter required in the next three years, and no reply was made to that from the Treasury Bench. His estimate might not be, strictly speaking, accurate; but, assuming it to be accurate, he did not see how they were to get such a large number of guns from Government Establishments. He suggested on Saturday that the Government ought to go into the market and endeavour to get the guns. He received no answer to that suggestion. They had been told, in a general way, that it was impossible for the private firms to supply these guns up to test. His contention was that if the War Office Authorities chose to go into the market for the guns, they had their own tests, and if the tests were not satisfactory they need not take the guns. What he wanted to ask of either the First Lord of the Admiralty or the Secretary of State for War was, whether his estimate was correct. He wanted further to know how many guns were wanted to carry out the Government's programme, and how they were going to get the guns. They knew perfectly well that the Government Establishments at Woolwich, Messrs. Armstrong, and Messrs. Whitworth, could not supply the guns required, unless they quadrupled the supply they had hitherto given. The fact of the matter was that no progress had been made upon the gun question. The House had been constantly told that the guns were ordered and the authorities asked the House to have faith that the guns would be delivered. If they judged by past experience, they had no reason to suppose that the promises on the part of the War Office would be carried out. Inasmuch as Parliament had voted money for the defence of military ports and coaling stations, and inasmuch as the First Lord of the Admiralty had announced what guns would be required for the Naval Service, he begged the Government to tell them what they believed would be the output from the Government Establishments during the next three years.


said, that the hon. Gentleman asked him, on the last occasion on which the Vote was under discussion, what would be the output of guns of 9-inch and over, and he insinuated that the Government Manufacturing Establishments—that was to say, Woolwich, Elswick, and that of Messrs. Whitworth, would be unable to comply with the requirements of the Navy so far as heavy guns were concerned. The number of guns which would be required above 9-inch from all Establishments now building, including both their armament and their reserve, was 81. All those guns had been ordered, and 45 ought to be delivered in the course of the present financial year. He believed that the difficulties which they had had to encounter that year would be overcome, and that the delays of which they had reason to complain would not occur again. But the hon. Gentleman must recollect that the difficulties had mainly occurred with guns of a certain calibre, and that nothing would be more unwise than to encourage private manufacturers to set up new establishments for the purpose of constructing guns of very heavy calibre. They must proceed by degrees—private establishments must begin with small guns. So far as the supply of small guns were concerned there had practically been little difficulty.


said, that the noble Lord had not answered his question, which was, what was his calculation of the output of the Government Establishments during the year?


said, he did not understand that that was the question of the hon. Member; he understood the hon. Gentleman wished to know what the output was of the three Establishments, including the Woolwich, to which orders had been given. He had stated that of out a total of 81 heavy guns of over 9 inches, 45 would be delivered during the present financial year.


They have never delivered more than 20.


said, the hon. Gentleman seemed to be unable to understand that the delivery of the guns depended upon when the guns were ordered. These guns, having been ordered some time ago, would be delivered during the present financial year. They would come either from Woolwich or from Messrs. Armstrong or from Messrs. Whitworth.


asked, if he was to understand the noble Lord to say that the establishments which had never yet produced more than 20 guns in a year, would in the ensuing year produce 45?


said, he did not admit that the establishments had only produced 20 guns a-year. What he wanted the hon. Gentleman to understand was that the day of the delivery of the guns depended upon the day when the guns were ordered.

MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what proportion of the 45 guns he expected to receive from Woolwich, and what proportion from the outside contractors?


said, that perhaps the Government would tell the House what was the capacity of private establishments for making guns? He impressed that point on the noble Lord, as he observed that the noble Lord did not seem to understand the point raised by the late Financial Secretary of the Admiralty (Mr. R. W. Duff). It would be very interesting to know how many tons of heavy guns could be turned out by Messrs. Armstrong and by Messrs. Whitworth in a year.

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

said, that the Establishment at Woolwich had not been extended, but Messrs. Armstrong and Messrs. Whitworth had extended their establishments in the course of the last year, and were still extending them. The Government had no reason to doubt that within three years every gun now ordered for the Land or Sea Service could easily be delivered.


asked, if the right hon. Gentleman could answer the ques- tion he put to the First Lord of the Admiralty—namely, what proportion of the guns he expected would be turned out of Woolwich?


said, that the proportion turned out of Woolwich was very small compared with that turned out by Messrs. Armstrong and Messrs. Whitworth. The productive power of Woolwich was small as compared with the other establishments; because, as he said the other day, Woolwich had to do all the repairs.


asked, if it was the intention of the Government to extend the manufacture or building up of guns at Woolwich; or, whether we were to be dependent on the outside trade for the construction and supply of guns? If Woolwich was to be confined mainly to the repairs of guns, from what source were we to derive our supply of heavy guns? Was it to come exclusively from Elswick and from Messrs. Whitworth? Was Woolwich going to be what it ought to be—a gun factory for building up guns, the outside trade supplying the material? If the Government would constitute Woolwich a gun factory, all would be well; for he thought the right hon. Gentleman knew that the supply of guns was only limited by the power of Woolwich to put guns together.


said, the right hon. Gentleman had asked a question he (Mr. Stanhope) answered on Saturday. There was no doubt whatever that the object of the Government was to make Woolwich a place where guns could be built up, and not where they should manufacture steel, which manufacture the right hon. Gentleman no doubt desired should remain at Sheffield. The Government looked to Sheffield for the manufacture of steel, Woolwich being mainly employed for the repair and building up of guns. Even if they were not able to get assistance from other outside firms which they did hope to get to a certain extent, there was an enormous amount of gun building at Woolwich and the two other factories which had been referred to.


again rose to address the House——


The right hon. Gentleman has already spoken twice.

Resolution agreed to.

Resolution 7.

DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

said, he would not have ventured to intrude upon the attention of the House at that stage were it not for the fact that in the second Report published by the Committee on Navy Estimates, a Committee on which he had a seat, there were several points which were altogether in antagonism to the statements which were made by the Director General of the Navy; and in the interest, therefore, of the Naval Medical Service and of the Medical Profession generally, he begged to offer a few observations. He was not able to be present when the Committee drew up its Report, because he was occupied domestically. The Committee reported that there were— Exceptional advantages of pay and especially of retirement, and that the necessity of continuing these excessive advantages to future entrants deserves the watchful attention of the Board of Admiralty. The high inducements given to junior officers to retire are especially of note.

Mr. Dick

, the Director General of the Navy, stated in the plainest possible way that prior to 1881 they had very great difficulty in getting a sufficient number of applicants for positions in the Naval Medical Department, and that it was only in consequence of various reforms which were initiated that men were induced to enter the Service. Mr. Dick admitted, during cross-examination, that the Service was still 21 short; but said that at any moment they could easily get that number. Perhaps the House would allow him to call their attention to the distinct differences there were between the officers of the Naval Medical Department and the officers of the Army Medical Staff, and those differences were distinctly drawn attention to by Mr. Dick in his evidence before the Committee. Mr. Dick stated that the officers belonging to the Naval Medical Service were removed from Netley, which was their former school, to Haslar because when Naval Medical officers had been educated side by side with officers belonging to the Army Medical Staff and they were placed on board ship—when they were cabin confined and sent off to such a place as the West Coast of Africa or the Red Sea, they at once began to draw distinctions between their position and the position which their confrères in the Army occu- pied. Mr. Dick added that were they to allow the Naval Medical officers to be educated with the Army Medical officers there would be great grumbling, and the younger men who would otherwise enter the Service would avoid it. He (Dr. Tanner) had put down six points of distinction which he commended to the attention of the Government. In the first place, the officers of the Army Medical Staff had better pay than the Naval Medical officers; in the second place, they had more comfort; in the third place, they had more leave; in the fourth place, they had better chances of keeping up their medical knowledge, and that point had been accentuated by the Report of the Committee over which Sir Anthony Hoskins presided; in the fifth place, the men of the sick berth staff were independent of the medical officers, whereas the men of the Army Staff Corps were directly under the control and management of the Army Medical Officers Staff; and in the sixth place, there were fewer of the Naval Medical Service than the Army Medical Staff, who, when they retired, were able to enter into private practice. That the Army Medical officers received better pay was a matter of notoriety. Upon that point Mr. Dick acknowledged that if a Naval Medical man was serving in Plymouth Sound, or on the West Coast of Africa, he received the same pay, and, moreover, that the Income Tax was deducted from the pay he received when away from home. Any hon. Member who was at all conversant with Army and Navy Medical officers knew perfectly well that any officer of the Army Medical Service who was sent to the West Coast of Africa received very good pay, and that for every year's service he received a year's leave. The position of the Naval Medical Service, in comparison, was simply ridiculous and absurd. Not only so, but it was also a matter of notoriety that the officers of the Army Medical Service received double pay when serving in India, when they were in China or in the Straits they also received double pay, and when serving at the Cape of Good Hope they received Colonial allowance, which in itself was a very great increase to their pay. On the subject of leave, let him say that a Naval Medical officer was a man of business, that he had to serve in every part of the world, and that accordingly he must be more or less conversant with the diseases, not merely of this country, but of all lands; and, not only that, but he must be equally good at surgery as at medicine. Such a man was only allowed 14 days' leave for one year's service. But if an officer of the Department was attached to a foreign hospital—say, at Jamaica—for two or three years and then came home, he got no leave at all; because it was said he had had so many comforts on shore. Then, he sincerely hoped the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty would give them some assurance that the Naval Medical officer would be afforded better chances of obtaining improved medical knowledge. It was suggested in the Report of the Committee over which Sir Anthony Hoskins presided that great advantages would ensue if Medical officers had the opportunity between their terms of seagoing service of attending the Metropolitan or other large hospitals, where they would learn the latest additions to Medical Science. During the two or three years a Naval Medical man spent on board a ship on the West Coast of Africa, or in the China Seas, or on any of the foreign stations, Medical Science must make many advances, and he must get rusty. It would unquestionably be well if a Naval Medical officer could occasionally come to any one of the various schools which were open to medical practitioners. There were precedents for such a course. Officers in the German Naval Service, when they came home from duty, were sent to the hospitals in the various University towns; he (Dr. Tanner) had had the pleasure of studying side by side with many of them in Berlin. It was said by Mr. Dick, in cross-examination— Of course, the German Naval Service is a very small service, and therefore its officers can very easily be told off to the various schools in Germany. But that was not only the case with the German Naval Service, but the officers belonging to the German Army, which was proportionately as large as the Navy of this country, were also told off periodically to increase their medical knowledge. It could not cost much to offer such facilities to our officers. Surely, the Medical Schools in the Metropolis would be only too glad to open their doors to officers belonging to the Medical Services, if the Government made overtures to them with that end. Again, if these advantages were offered to them, they would, when their period of service expired, be better able to engage in the private practice of their profession, and in that case the scale of retirement allowances need not be so high as it was at present. Furthermore, he suggested the advisability of a Naval Medical Reserve Force. It would be of incalculable benefit if there was to fall back upon a body of men experienced in medicine, and who were at the same time accustomed to the ways of the sea. An extraordinary statement was made before the Committee with regard to the Haslar Hospital for lunatics. It was said there were at present there 38 officers, and only 180 men. It seemed to him unreasonable that a hospital of that sort, intended principally for men, should be expected to accommodate such a disproportionate number of officers. He trusted to hear from the noble Lord that every effort would be made to keep up the standard of the Naval Medical Service.


said, that the Committee certainly did not take the same view of this matter as the hon. Gentleman. Whilst they all agreed it was of supreme importance that the Medical Officers of the Navy should be capable men, and able to attend to the wants of the officers and men with whom they might be associated, they were, on the other hand, of opinion that the advantages of pay and retirement which were attached to the Naval Medical Profession were somewhat excessive. The Committee recommended that the necessity of continuing those excessive advantages deserved the watchful attention of the Board of Admiralty. Therefore, so far as pay and leave were concerned, he could not hold out to the hon. Gentleman any hope of any increase. There was no lack in the supply of candidates, and that in itself was a conclusive reason why they should not increase the Votes for these Services. The Medical officers of the Army might, in certain instances, have advantages over their brethren in the Navy; but the Admiralty proposed to appoint a small Committee to inquire during the autumn both into the Medical Service of the Army and of the Navy, and, so far as they could, assimilate the practices in both, though he did not think that would be done in the direction of increasing the endowments of either Service. The Committee would undoubtedly direct their attention to the points which the hon. Gentleman had raised. He thought it was proper that officers when they came home after being paid off from their ships, should have access to the large hospitals, and he hoped that some provision of that kind could be made. The Committee would also inquire whether it was possible to have a Reserve of Medical Officers. That was no easy matter. It would be no use having medical men who were not accustomed to go to sea, and on the other hand, the very fact of such men being accustomed to go to sea might not justify the country maintaining them. In regard to the Haslar Lunatic Hospital, it was no doubt true that the officers there bore an undue proportion to the men. The relatives of the officers were ready to pay the extra cost of officers coming to the hospital, and moreover, the men went to the county asylums in far greater numbers than the officers. Upon the question of the Sick Berth Staff, he had only to say it was the practice in the Navy that there should be only one person on board ship with the power to inflict punishment. It was not thought proper that the medical officer should be able to inflict punishment. The medical officers had acquiesced in the system, and no complaint had been made.

Resolution agreed to.

Remaining Resolutions agreed to.