HC Deb 23 February 1888 vol 322 cc1241-2
SIR BERNHARD SAMUELSON (Oxfordshire, Banbury)

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been called to a letter of Mr. Carbutt, President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, in last Friday's Times, in which he states that the A-tube or liner of every one of the new 9.2-inch guns which has been sent to proof has split; that one of the guns which had passed the proof, and was lying on the wharf for shipment to one of our Colonies, when lifted showed a crack, not in the liner but in the jacket, the whole length of the gun; that a gun was lately ordered from one department, and a carriage (Vavasseur) from another; the size and weight of the gun were given to the constructors of the carriage, so that the carriage might be constructed and balanced accordingly; when the two were brought together it was found that the gun was five tons heavier than had been stated to the makers of the carriage, which had, in consequence, to be re-constructed at a cost of upwards of £500; whether all or any of these statements are correct; and, if not, whether he will state the actual facts; whether it is the case that the 9.2-inch guns were manufactured at Woolwich, and what was their number; and, whether he will prepare and present to the House a statement of the cost of repairing and re-constructing defective new guns manufactured at Woolwich, including the re-construction of the 43-ton guns which have been, or are to be, returned?

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

Since this Question has been on the Paper I have read the letter of Mr. Carbutt. None of the statements quoted appear to be correct. In answer to the first statement, I may say that 26 9.2-inch breech-loading guns having their liners inside have been sent to proof, of which 25 are being made in the Royal Gun Factory. Of these none have split the A-tubes, as stated; but five have split their liners. This accident is not one of any danger, and many rounds can be fired subsequently without injury to the gun. But the question of these liners is a new one, and is offering to all makers of these guns some unexpected difficulty. In answer to the second statement, no gun ready to be shipped to the Colonies was found to be cracked, still less from end to end, but a crack was found in the hoop over the breech of one gun before the completion of proof. In answer to the third statement, I cannot trace any such occurrence as that mentioned. As my attention has been called to Mr. Carbutt's letter, I should like to say that he is quite in error in describing the position of the Ordnance Factories. The Director General is quite independent of the Military Authorities, and is responsible to the Financial Secretary and to myself. As regards the Return asked for, I may say that no new type guns have been re-constructed; and the 43-ton guns were converted to Army use, having previously been naval wrought-iron guns without trunnions, and were lined and chase-hooped.

MR. HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

asked, if the independent testing department had yet been established?


Yes, Sir; it has been established, and will be in full working order almost directly.