HC Deb 14 March 1892 vol 2 cc778-98
ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)

I have no desire, Sir, to take up any length of time on the very important question which my Motion brings under the notice of the House. When I framed that Motion the Memorandum of the First Lord had not been issued, or I should probably have worded it differently. I was not aware that there was any proposal to increase the personnel of the Fleet beyond what the First Lord told us last year, when I ventured to point out that I thought the proposed increase by 1894 did not sufficiently meet the case. The Memorandum shows I was right. The Committee of Naval Lords made certain recommendations under which the noble Lord proposes to increase the number on active service by 3,100, of whom 1,250 are boys. These boys cannot be recognised as seamen till they have been at least four years at sea, in addition to two years in a training ship. There is to be an increase of 500 in the Marine Force, and 700 in the class of stokers. I see, also, that the stokers in the Naval Reserve are to be increased to 4,000. I do not pretend to be a judge on this question, as naval men outside the Admiralty can only form an opinion from those documents which are placed before them, and cannot grasp the subject as a whole. But I know that naval opinion outside the Admiralty is much concerned as to what steps are being taken to bring up the personnel of the Fleet to what the matériel will be in 1894, and we think the question has not been grappled with in the serious manner it demands. If the noble Lord had said that we should have these men by 1894 things might be all right; but what naval men, and, I suppose, thoughtful statesmen, feel is that it is not enough to simply prepare on paper for eventualities four years hence. We ought to be prepared at once. Lest it should be thought I am exaggerating, I will quote the opinion of a distinguished officer who has been selected by the First Lord to command the Fleet on an important station. At the United Service Institution the other day Vice Admiral Sir E. R. Fremantle, quoting from an article by Admiral Hornby, said:— Sir Geoffrey Hornby stated, in an article in the United Service Magazine last year, that 'the 34,400 petty officers and seamen of the Navy, and the 24,500 that are promised on paper from the Coastguard and Naval Reserve, are small numbers wherewith to meet the waste which a war must cause.' And he went on to say that the petty officers and seamen of that Reserve, though good individually, were destitute of organisation. That is a rather strong statement, and I think the gallant Admiral has gone a little beyond the facts in the matter of organisation. Sir E. R. Fremantle went on to say— We are forced to the conclusion that our present system does not give a force large enough for our requirements, and, admirable as it is in many ways, some change is necessary. This is the universal opinion of naval officers. The quality of our present active force is admirable, but it is inexpansive, its quantity is insufficient, and our Reserves are inadequate. The question of the sufficiency of the number of officers has also been under the consideration of the First Lord, and he has dealt with it in his Memorandum. But the question has not been faced properly by the enrolment of 230 Naval Reserve officers to serve in the Fleet. I think the First Lord might go further, especially as it is the opinion of distinguished officers that the present number intended for foreign service is utterly inadequate. The list of lieutenants should be brought up to 1,000, the number, I think proposed as a minimum by the First Lord. We have at present 93G, and the minimum number of 1,000 will only be reached in 1896. Are we to wait till that time for the full number? I venture to suggest that no time should be lost in selecting suitable men from the Mercantile Marine, subjecting them, if possible, to suitable training in the gunnery ships, and then inducing them to volunteer for the Fleet. There are already about 90 such officers serving in the Fleet, at which I rejoice. But that is not sufficient. We want to see at least 300 officers from the Naval Reserve, but without training they would be of little use for service, I gather from the Memorandum that the First Lord only proposes an increase of 650 seamen, 1,250 boys, and 750 stokers. I think he will admit that the 650 seamen are inadequate. I cannot pretend to say what number of seamen will be required for the Fleet in 1894, but I can safely say that number will not be sufficient. I am aware that you have a considerable body of pensioners, but of these 10,000 must be over 55 years of age, and you cannot pretend that the whole of them would be available for service in case of war. No doubt many could be used to man the Coastguard Stations when you withdrew the Coastguard Reserve. I gather that the French have no less than 100,000 men ready for service and over 30,000 marines. When the noble Lord has added his 500, our Marine Force will only number 15,000. Most naval men would gladly see that force largely augmented. It is the cheapest force you can train, because you can make it efficient in the shortest possible time. It is a most popular force, and yon could enrol a large number in a very short time, and they could be made good gunners in twelve months, and fit for service on a ship. Yon cannot manufacture boys into seamen in less than five or six years; and the demand is pressing. To wait five or six years for the Meet to be at its maximum is rather trifling with the question. The Marine Force should be brought up to 16,000 this year, and next year add a small number, and so on. They are more valuable than the Naval Reserve, because they are trained in the use of naval guns. Mercantile seamen—valuable as they are—are only trained for a limited time in the year, mostly a month, and that at a week or a fortnight at a time. I would ask the First Lord if the rumour be true that the men on the Coastguard Reserve ships have been reduced by two-fifths? that you have taken them for active service in the Fleet? I do not blame the Admiralty, but you are making up one-fifth of them by boys. Is that wise? It may be necessary to meet the present demand, but surely it is a proof that the personnel of the Navy is not what it ought to be. It is, I see, also proposed to increase the Naval Reserve from about 22,000 to 27,000 in 1896, but a large discount must be taken off that. That shows the necessity of increasing the Marine Force. The noble Lord admits that there is a deficiency of seamen gunners and torpedoists. However good the Naval Reserve, they cannot be gunners and torpedo men. I am told that at present we have no more than 23,000 seamen in the Fleet, and I am further told by competent judges that we ought not to have less than 25,000 able seamen in addition to all the other classes required. The Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. Forwood), in a speech some time ago, said that the seamen in the Mercantile Marine had, in the last 15 years, diminished by 20,000, and it is to the Mercantile Marine that we have to look for our chief Naval Reserve. The noble Lord also says that in 1896 our manning resources will not be altogether inadequate, though in certain ratings there may be considerable shortcomings. There ought to be no shortcomings at all; we ought to be prepared for war. The noble Lord says there is a deficiency in secondary gunnery and torpedo ratings, and he goes on to say— In engine-room ratings there is a large deficiency, and practically no reserve of firemen or stokers. We propose this year to try to create a firemen's reserve, and the number authorised for the year is 700. Why do not the Admiralty adopt the practice adopted in the Crimean War, when lads of 17 years of age and upwards were sent to training ships, and called "novices"? Many of them turned out excellent men, and became petty officers. Why not take boys of about the same age and train them at our Naval Barracks for stokers? The number of stokers proposed to be added is inadequate. The noble Lord says— A large proportion of the engine-room complements are coal-trimmers. They require little training. Let us get them, and feel that we have them ready trained for service. There is also a considerable deficiency in chief engine-room and engine-room artificers. There is no reserve at present, and this deficiency will require close attention: Will it have close attention unless you deal with it? I venture to say this House would vote any money the noble Lord asks to bring up the personnel of the Fleet to the requirements we shall have to face in 1894. He says— The estimate of 75,000 for the limit of the establishments on active service made last year by me will require some augmentation. This is put in the Memorandum to give satisfaction to the House, but it wants looking into closely— At present all men and boys under the Naval Discipline Act or borne on ships' books are included in Vote A, and a false impression is thus created as to the number of men available for active service. A very false impression, unless hon Members look into it. The noble Lor says that there will be in 1892–3, available for sea service, an increase of 3,100 men and boys, of which a large number are boys. The noble Lord adds that the Estimates upon which these conclusions are based are moderate, and represent a minimum. Is the House going to be content with a minimum standard instead of a maximum? I venture to say that under these Estimates the establishment will not be complete for service. We want the question to be faced as it is at present; so that, if any disturbance should arise in the present year, we should not have to go helter-skelter in search of men and send our officers to sea to fight with incompetent men. The Naval Reserve men are not trained men, and not fitted for battle till they have been some time on a ship and received some training. They are able men, and I would not say a word in depreciation of them, but they must have training. The Force which can most quickly be brought into condition for fighting purposes is the Royal Marines, and it is only proposed to add 500 men to that Force. I rejoice to see that 230 lieutenants and 390 sub-lieutenants are to be enrolled in the Naval Reserve during the year. I wish to draw attention to another point. I had a question on the Paper to-day on which the First Lord did not feel able to give me any information—what loss do we suffer every year by ten or twelve years men taking their discharge? Twelve months after their discharge they are eligible to come back, and we rejoice to see them, but how many are lost to the Service by discharging themselves permanently? I am sure the waste must be considerable. I have asked for a Return on the subject, but I have never got it, and have been told it would take so much time to prepare. I have calculated roughly what the waste of ten or twelve years' men is, and I estimate it at at least 1,000 a year, the annual waste in the Service being 3,000. I should like to see these men secured to the Service by being formed into a kind of superior Reserve for five years. I would suggest to the Admiralty the desirability of considering whether, when taking boys on to the training ships, the agreement should not be made to include five years in a first-class Naval Reserve, as well as the ten or twelve years' service. I am told it would interfere with men entering for long service. I do not want to interfere with that; but many of these men are gunners, electricians, and submarine mining men, and I do not see why they should be lost to the Service. These men are most valuable, and you only give them twopence a day increase for re-engagement. That is a very small increase for superior men of ten or twelve years' service, and I would rather see the question considered, with the view of placing them into a first-class Reserve, and giving them a short service pension. You have created a great Army Reserve and adopted the short service system. We do not want that in our Service, but there is no reason why we should not create a Naval Reserve with this splendid material, and yet no effort is made to secure them. There is another point to which I would call the noble Lord's attention. I have had interviews with some of the stokers, who complain that they have no second-class rating, and this is the only class in the Service without it. If some method could be devised for creating a second-class rating, it would give a little encouragement to the stokers and induce men to enter that class. In connection with the short supply of officers, I hear that it is proposed to put three torpedo boats under one lieutenant, the lieutenant to have charge of one, and warrant officers to command the other two. I do not think warrant officers are quite the men to put in command of torpedo boats. You want young officers, full of dash and energy, and not a mature sailor, such as the warrant officer generally is. This suggestion, however, shows how short the supply of officers is. I hope the First Lord will give some reply on the points to which I have called his attention.


I differ entirely from the estimate given by the First Lord of the Admiralty with respect to the number of ships we have in comparison with those of Foreign Powers. In the first place, it will be well to remember that the naval programme was calculated to bring the Fleet up to what we ought to have been in 1889, not to what we ought to be in 1894; and consequently we should now commence to make up for the ships which have been laid down by foreign countries in the interval between 1889 and the present; and I maintain that the three ships laid down do not meet the requirements at all. The grand total of the French Fleet built and building is 67, ànd that of Russia 31, so that these two powers combined have 88 vessels, and we shall have nothing like that even when in 1894 the programme is completed. Now, it appears from the Admiralty Returns that we number 64 battle ships of all kinds, and a great many of these it is well known are no use at all. This shows a marked inferiority, according to their own Return, to France and Russia joined together. I see by this statement that there are to be ten new torpedo boats, and I hope that these boats are much faster and better sea boats than those we have had heretofore. We want, however, more than ten torpedo boats, as that number is nothing in comparison with what France is building. But I would respectfully submit to the First Lord that it would be well to wait and see what is the result of the trials of the Zalinski gun. The intention both of the gun and of the torpedo boats is to place a large charge of powder or some other explosive under another man-of-war. The Zalinski is a long-range gun fired through the air, whilst the torpedo has all the disadvantages of a short range—about 400 yards—through the water, with the liability to be affected by currents and tides. With respect to another point, I should like the First Lord to state whether he has made any inquiries with respect to the use of the fluid fuel which some people contend can be obtained much cheaper, or into the new method of hydraulic propulsion. On page 8 of the statement I find— Although it is a matter for regret that such an accident as the grounding of the Victoria should have occurred, yet it has incidentally given strong proof of the efficiency of the system of construction adopted in Her Majesty's ships. It strikes me as rather a peculiar way of testing the efficiency of building, and I should like to know why the ride for vessels anchoring should not be carried out in torpedo practice? Then, with respect to forced draughts, I consider forced draught, as it has been used in large ships, to be an invention of the Evil One, and I know, also, that that is the opinion of a vast number of naval officers. Then, with respect to the 110-ton guns, there are only six of them afloat, and we are told that only sufficient for ordinary reserve are being constructed. I do not speak of the guns originally in the ships, but we have three spare guns, two new ones and one under repair, which is supposed to be as good as new when repaired. But in November, 1891, three more were ordered, that is, a spare one for every one afloat, which does not show much faith in the durability of these guns. These guns, without anything for mounting, cost £18,000 each, so that the spare guns for these vessels cost £108,000. I sincerely wish the First Lord would face the difficulty of altering these vessels to carry lighter guns. Why not face the initial expense of fitting these vessels with 50-ton guns, which would, roughly speaking, cost half the money and be much more effective.

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

I rise to a point of Order. The hon. Member is going into a long discussion of the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and is making no reference to the particular Motion now under notice. The proper time, I submit, for this discussion is when we get into Committee of Supply; and to adopt the course which the hon. Member is taking is, to say the least, inconvenient, inasmuch as it will result in two discussions instead of one. I do not quite know, Mr. Speaker, whether that is a point of Order or not, but I raise it for the convenience of the House.


I entirely concur with what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I cannot stop the gallant Admiral on a point of Order. The question is purely one of convenience, and I do not see my way to stop the discussion.

CAPTAIN G. E. PRICE (Devonport)

Is there any Motion before the House?


There is the Question that I now leave the Chair.


Did I not move the Motion of which I had given notice?


The hon. Member could not move it.


My reason for taking this course is that last year we were told, when we desired to discuss the First Lord's Statement, that we could do so at a later stage. Well, the other Votes were only brought forward late in the Session, and at that period of the Session everyone was begging everyone else not to speak, but to let them get away. To continue the Debate. I see here that there were 138 guns which were bad from the first, and I am glad to see that they are to be abolished, for I believe they were bad from the beginning. But these 138 guns are wasted, and 138 guns of some other kind will have to be made to replace them. Who is to blame for this waste of money? I would like to know, also, whether it is still the case, as was put forward in the First Lord's Statement last year, That the Navy are merely the users of the articles supplied, and that they have no responsibility, either for the design or the manufacture of the weapons with which they are supplied. If that is true, the sooner we have a Department for the Ordnance of the two Services—to look after these guns and take the responsibility—the better it will be. Then I see that 225 of the 4–7 inch quick-firing guns have been ordered, and that they have been put into some of the armed cruisers without ever having been thoroughly tested. They have never been sufficiently tried, and have never gone through the regular tests that all guns should go through. I see no mention this year of the Falkland Islands, but I do hope the First Lord will take the advice of those who have been there frequently, before he attempts to make these islands the head quarters of the South Pacific. If he had been there as often as I have, and had spent three years in the Straits of Magellan, he would think no more of the proposal. Before you can get from the Falkland Islands to where commerce or civilisation is to be seen, you have to go over 2,000 miles. It cannot be thought of as a depôt for the South Pacific, and if we unfortunately make a depôt there, unless we keep a large garrison it will be an exceedingly fine place for the enemy to go and seize our coals. It would be much better to buy up one of the hundreds of islands in the Straits of Magellan, or some of the other islands about there, rather than go on making this depôt at the Falkland Islands, which would be utterly useless. I am very sorry to see that nothing is said with regard to lengthening the Mole at Gibraltar, because we all know that this is a very important work—so important, indeed, that I was told that nothing could be spent at Pembroke because of the necessity of spending money at Gibraltar. I hope, before this money is laid out, the First Lord will pay attention to a very important Report by some experienced officers on the necessity for additional guns, or an alteration in the positions of those now in place at Gibraltar. They say— They consider that any foreign ships of war—even of a small size—and more especially heavy armed ironclads, could at the present, moment with perfect impunity lay off or steam round out of range of all existing guns on the Rock, but well within the range of their own guns, and therefore would be capable of doing incalculable damage and annoyance to the town and fortress, free of any risk of receiving damage themselves. I will defer any further remarks I have to make to another time, but I should greatly regret to think that I had been out of Order in bringing this matter forward.

(6.23.) MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)

I should like to say a few words with respect to the boilers on these ships; and I will first take the Thunderer, a first-class battle ship, which cost, I believe, £100,000. When the Mediterranean Squadron left Barcelona for Gibraltar a few weeks ago, the vessels had not been very long at sea at an ordinary speed of ten knots before the Thunderer had to fall out of the line. On reaching Gibraltar Admiral Tryon held a Court of Inquiry, and he found that the failure was entirely owing to the construction of the boiler, which is of the type known as double-headed. Admiral Tryon has requested that the vessel may be ordered back to England, and it may be taken for granted that as a battle ship she is useless until she has been re-boilered, and that will cost something like £50,000. The next vessel in which we have a record of failure is the Vulcan, a torpedo-ship. Her boilers leaked on her first voyage, and I believe she has never yet been able to go to sea. The First Lord the other day stated that only £250 had been spent on repairs to the boilers of the Vulcan; but what use can the Vulcan be as a fighting ship if she can only steam something like ten knots an hour? She was designed to steam 18 knots, and before she can be any use she will have to be re-boilered. Her boilers, also, are what are commonly known as double-ended boilers, with single combustion chambers. The next vessel to which I wish to call attention is the Blake. She was designed to indicate 20,000 horsepower, but on her trial she only indicated 14,525. She was built to steam 20 knots, but at her first trial in smooth water she only did 18 knots. She cost £440,000, and having cost this enormous sum we find that she could not do her speed, and that the tubes began to leak. The next case is that of the Blenheim., which went out from Plymouth, broke down almost immediately, and had to return. What I have tried to ascertain is, who is to blame for all these defects? Someone must be to blame. I remember that Lord Charles Beresford, when he was a Member of this House, said that for something of this kind someone ought to be hanged. I do not go quite so far as that, but at all events somebody ought to be called upon to give an account to the country for the reason of these mishaps. To my mind it is not because these vessels have been furnished with double-ended boilers, but because the boilers have been constructed of material that was too light, and the tubes have been too close in their arrangement. The consequence is that the heat has been unequally distributed in the boilers and forced upon the tubes on one side of the boiler; this caused a leakage and a waste of steam. One reason, I think, is to be found in the forced draught which is never heard of in the Mercantile Marine. To my mind forced draught means unnatural pressure on the boilers, which never can be utilised in the event of war. I would, therefore, ask the First Lord to give the House his candid opinion with respect to the use of forced draught, and to tell the House whether he intends to continue its use or to abolish it?

(6.20.) SIR E. HARLAND (Belfast, N.)

May I reply at once to some of the remarks which have fallen from the hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Gourley)? He has spoken of these double-ended boilers as if they are of no use; but let me tell him that some of the most successful of our merchant vessels are fitted with these boilers.


For single combustion.


There is nothing peculiar in the modern boilers used in the Navy. With respect to forced draught also, I may say there is scarcely any large and successful merchant ship now which goes to sea without forced draught, within, of course, certain limits. There is not in the Mercantile Marine the necessity to confine within such a comparatively limited space such a very large amount of power; but, nevertheless, there are advantages in a limited supply of forced draught, which are recognised by all the modern steamship owners, many of whom sit in this House. On the two points referred to there must be some reason other than that given by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Gourley), and it may be found to arise from some comparatively minor cause which maybe more readily removed than by turning the double-ended boilers into single-ended boilers.


I rise in the interests of time in this discussion. We have listened to two Gentlemen of very great experience, and everyone must admit the interest and importance of what they have said. Everybody must feel that this year especially it is of very great importance that the Ship-building Vote should be very fully discussed and thoroughly understood. The mere fact that two such ships as the Blake and the Vulcan have broken down is of itself a very serious matter for the Navy, and there are also some very important matters with respect to the unexpected and extraordinary delays in the completion of vessels. ("No, no!") I understand from the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty that some of the vessels will not be completed at the time contemplated in the Act of 1889. These are questions which will require to be fully discussed on the Shipbuildine Vote, and I think it would be a mistake that we should occupy much time on a Motion that yon, Sir, leave the Chair in discussing these matters which must be discussed very fully hereafter. Therefore, if the Speaker be allowed to leave the Chair without further delay, I think we might proceed to the Vote for men. I rose to ask the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) for an undertaking that the Shipbuilding Vote should not be delayed until the end of the Session as it was last year, because it involves most important consequences and ought to be most fully discussed. We want an assurance that this Vote will not be delayed until July, as it was last year, and then be rushed through without any adequate discussion. Therefore, if you now agree, or at all events with very short delay, that the Speaker do leave the Chair, and ask from the First Lord of the Admiralty a statement and an undertaking that before very long—certainly long before the period at which it has been reached in former Sessions—the Shipbuilding Vote shall be taken, so that there may be full discussion thereon, I think it might be for the convenience of the House.

(6.31.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)

I certainly, Sir, do not oppose your leaving the Chair. I should like to do so, because I altogether object to your leaving the Chair for any such extravagant proposals as are laid before us at the present time. I know it is no use for me to make any protest. Nevertheless, to me it is a duty, because I represent a busy manufacturing town that owes all its prosperity to trade, and I know that the people I represent have no sympathy whatever with the pirating and ferocious kind of policy advocated by the gallant but most amiable Admirals of the Fleet opposite. That men so kindly as they always are, and so willing to do a benevolent act, should be constantly living upon gunpowder, I cannot understand. We are called upon, according to what is threatened, to spend more than £16,000,000, taking the balances left over, and the annuity taken out of the Consolidated Fund, upon the Navy. I suppose that was never known before in the history of the country. If we could by such extravagance satisfy hon. and gallant Gentlemen opposite, there would be something to be said for it, but, like the horseleech, they are never satisfied. They think we are in an entirely unsatisfactory position, and that this country is the poor and unsuspecting prey of all the brigands of the Continent. The hon. and gallant Member has said that we are not prepared to meet the united fleets of Russia and France—88 ships altogether. Does he ever expect those 88 ships to concentrate against this country? Would any man in his ordinary private affairs pay such a heavy insurance on such a remote and impossible contingency as the concentration of those ships on our devoted shores? Everyone knows that it is never likely to happen. But besides that, the more money we expend, the more unsatisfactory our Fleet appears to become. We were told by a gallant Admiral opposite that it was a duty, whenever a ship was coming to anchor, for a lieutenant to be sent off to take the soundings. I think it would be still more desirable to do so when the ship is steaming. How was the Victoria allowed to go aground? There were no soundings taken in that case. I served on a Committee on the Navy and the Army, and I know the bewilderment of that Committee in the endeavour to find out who was responsible. Nobody ever is responsible for these things. I believe if you could engage a thoroughly practical man, who has been trained to the business, and give him £10,000,000 a year, and tell him—Now, if the Fleet breaks down you will be hung or sentenced to transportation for 20 years—you would have a far more efficient Fleet than at present when you have no personal responsibility. The great shipbuilders get more value than you do for their money, simply because they have a keen personal interest to do the best possible with the means at their disposal. You will never get that under your present system of naval construction and administration, and, therefore, for these £16,000,000 we shall not get so much satisfaction as, under a system of personal responsibility and direction we would get for £10,000,000. It is because I think there should occasionally be heard a word of truth from a section of public opinion, which is growing more powerful year by year, and which will some time or other overwhelm our sanguinary but amiable Admirals that I protest, on their behalf and on behalf of my constituents, against this wasteful expenditure.


I think it would be for the general convenience of the House if I were to fall in with the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt), and ask both sides of the House to agree to the Speaker leaving the Chair. We should then get into discussion in Committee, when I or my Colleagues could answer a good many of the questions put to us while you, Sir, were in the Chair. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Picton) has informed us that he is a man of peace. Well, he has a rather curious method of showing it. His method is that he would put some one, say an Admiral, at the head of the Department with a halter round his neck, and would tell him that if anything went wrong he would be hung. The hon. Member said he represented a peace-loving community. My impression of the hon. Member's constituency is that, if ever they should be deprived of the commodity which they work up through inability to get their material from abroad, and if they found it impossible to earn their livelihood in consequence, they would be just as clamorous as any other sections of the community for the protection which an efficient Navy could afford. Passing from that, however, I think, perhaps, it might be convenient—although I am quite ready to meet the wishes of the House—if I, just for a very few minutes, answered a few of the questions which my hon. and gallant Friend asked me about the personnel, and so get rid of that subject.

MR. R. W. DUFF (Banff)

No; there are other questions in connection with it.


Well, yes, in the Vote. My hon. and gallant Friend has said that our proposals are quite inadequate, and he assumed that we ought to keep on the active list a sufficient number of men ready to man any ship that in an emergency is at our disposal. Now, anxious as I am to maintain the strength of the Navy, I do not think it is reasonable to expect this country to keep on the active list a number of continuous service men entitled to pensions, who would yet only be required on an emergency. Therefore, what we must do, as reasonable people, is to associate as far as we can an active list with an efficient Reserve, and combining these two, to see that they are sufficient to meet our wants, or to try to make such arrangements as would enable us rapidly to develop these forces into a War Service. My hon. and gallant Friend says that our arrangements are inadequate. The House must allow me just to state what the conditions were under which I made my Report to the House. The question of providing an adequate personnel is a very difficult one—far more difficult than the ordering of matériel—because the productive resources of this country, so far as ships and guns are concerned, are now practically exhaustless. Well, then, I appointed a Committee of naval men to consider this question of personnel, in order to test the figures which, last year, I put down as necessary. The chairman is Admiral Sir A. Hoskins, an officer of great experience, not only Admiral Superintendent of Reserves, not only a Naval Lord for some years, but an officer who had only recently returned from the Mediterranean as Commander-in-Chief of one of the largest squadrons ever stationed there. The Second Naval Lord was associated with him — Admiral Fairfax—who is about to assume the command of the Channel Squadron; Admiral Bedford, the Third Naval Lord, was the other member; and the two secretaries were both naval men, one being a Captain in the Service, and the other the Paymaster, who for many years had been secretary to Commanders-in-Chief abroad. The composition, therefore, of the Committee from top to bottom was naval, and their procedure was this. They first got the name of every ship built or to be ready in 1894, then they took the complement of every ship, and the ratings of every complement of every ship, and having got them they added them all together, and took the total figures thus obtained, and put them against the resources on which we had to rely. The result is, that our resources are much larger than we imagined. I want to lay stress upon that point, because naval men are apt to generalise according to their own experiences. There is no head-quarters in the Navy as is the case in the Army; and the result is that an officer at one place, if he finds there is anything wrong, immediately concludes that the fault applies to the whole of the Service, and at once assumes that there are enormous deficiencies in every other portion of the Navy. Now, the fact is that year after year we have had mobilisation of the troops. Year after year we have added to ships in commission, complements varying from 10,000, to 12,000 men. Last year it was somewhat less; but if ever we got into a difficulty or an emergency, we have a large number of resources which we cannot lay our hands on in times of peace. We have the coastguard; the educational establishments; we have the gun and torpedo ships which could practically be stripped of men; we have pensioners, and retired officers; and in addition to all these we should have the Naval Reserve who can be called out by Royal Proclamation, What I want my hon. Friend to understand is that this Committee has acted on the principle which I have laid down, that when the full requirements in 1894 are put together the number of active service officers and men together with trustworthy reserves should be sufficient to man every available ship. And I also wish my hon. Friend to understand that if the recommendations which I now make, which I think are moderate, and which will certainly entail in future years only a limited increase in the Vote, are carried out, so far as the requirements of the Fleet in 1894 are concerned we shall be in a position to meet them. The recommendations on this Paper are the recommendations of the Committee, and I practically agree with them. This is not a statement made for the purpose of currying favour either in this House or with the public. If for the next few years the personnel of the Navy is treated on the lines I have indicated, I believe we shall be able to bring up the personnel to something like an equality with our requirements, If this statement is not one to give satisfaction to the House or to the community, it is a statement which I make on my responsibility on the best authority I could obtain, and it is compiled by three as competent men as there are in the Navy. With regard to stokers, it will be necessary, I think, to a certain extent to re-classify the duties and rating of the engine room departments. We have an excellent body of men in the stokers now. In physique they are, many of the them, equal to our bluejackets. But the question of re-classification is one upon which I cannot now speak with absolute certainty. The matter is under investigation, and I hope to announce a decision shortly. With regard to the Shipbuilding Vote, that right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt), stated that that Vote was taken very late last year—it was taken I think on the 17th June—and he asked for an undertaking that it would not be delayed so long this year. I cannot give an engagement now to the right hon. Gentleman on the subject, nor do I think the First Lord of the Treasury can. The time at which any future discussion must come on must depend on the Business of the House. But I think there is a special reason why the Dockyard Vote should come on somewhat earlier than usual, because the details of the new ships we propose to build are not yet so elaborated as to enable me to state them to the House, and I think the House ought to be in full possession of them before they sanction any expenditure in connection with them. Therefore I will convey to the Leader of the House the representation of the right hon. Gentleman, and I will tell him that so far as I am concerned I think it is not an unreasonable one.

(6.50.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)

I think it is a monstrous thing for this country to spend £35,000,000 a year, besides borrowed money, for fighting purposes. I hope the time is coming when we shall as a Christian people endeavour to put an end to war rather than by excessive expenditure endeavour to increase it. There is a doctrine that in order to prevent war you must be prepared for it. I think that is all nonsense. When you have large armies such as exist in continental countries, there is always the temptation to find something for them do. It is necessary, no doubt, to keep up the Navy for the purpose of protecting commerce and trade, but it is highly undesirable to waste money in the way proposed. There is one country which is setting an example to the rest of the world in this respect, and that is the United States of America.

An hon. MEMBER: They are increasing their Navy.


The hon. Gentleman says they are increasing their Navy, but it is for the purpose of protecting their trade and commerce, and not for foreign wars. The people of the United States would, not consent to give their Government a large Army and Navy, knowing the temptation there would be to give them something to do. There are one or two little matters in connection with the Navy Appropriation Account that I wish to call attention to. I find in the Appropriation Account and in the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General that it is the constant practice of the Admiralty to make use, generally with the consent of the Treasury, of surpluses in the Votes for purposes not mentioned in the Estimates at all, and, therefore, without the consent of this House. I contend that these expenses should either be brought up in the regular Estimates or in Supplementary Estimates, so that the House might have an opportunity of discussing them. There is a case here of an expenditure for a disused church at Malta, which it appears the authorities had thought was paid for, but owing to the neglect of the law officers the title seems to have been bad, and it had to be purchased a second time. It might be a very good thing to buy a disused church, but we, who are fitting here for the purpose of considering the expenditure of the country, ought to have an opportunity of considering such an item as that. You cannot call that a matter of emergency, and I assume the object in not putting it on the Estimates was to try and hide from us the fact. I find another item of over £1,700 which is not provided for in the Estimates. I will read a letter from the Admiralty on the subject. It is dated 27th September, 1890, and it says— In accordance with the request contained in your letter of the 25th September, 1890, I am commanded by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to acquaint you, for the information of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, that the proposed expenditure of £1,060 for improvements and alterations to the Commander-in-Chief's house, &c, at Devonport is made up as follows. It appears from this that in the first place the Admiralty had asked to be allowed to spend this money without giving any particulars. The Treasury were doubtful about it and they asked for these particulars. The items of the £1,060 include a new dressing-room, two new bedrooms, new larders, improving hot and cold water service, electric bells, stables and coach-house, and new fittings and other alterations. Then, in addition to the £1,000, there is a further sum of £725 for improving and altering the existing drains. That could not possibly be a matter of emergency, and it ought to have been put in the regular Estimates. There may be reasons for doing it in this secret manner. I should like to know who this favoured Commander-in-Chief is who has his house done up in this way. I should like to know what a naval officer wants with a stable, a horse, coach-house—what has a horse to do with the Navy? (Laughter.) The hon. Gentleman laughs. Except in connection with the Horse Marines I never heard of horses being required for the Navy. I consider this an improper expenditure, although I do not expect to get very much explanation on that point, because I know the representatives of the Forces on both sides of the House are strong enough to withstand any opposition to the extravagant expenses made in these matters without any previous consent, or any consent of the House. There is only one other matter to which I shall call attention, though I could refer to a great many others. The Controller and Auditor General in his Report calls attention to a final payment, the balance of a contract for the machinery of Her Majesty's ship Seagull being paid, without trial at full speed; and further on he mentions ten ships altogether in which final payment was made without certificates as to trial for full speed. Are the Admiralty in the habit, then, of making final payments without having the final tests, even in accordance with their own contract? I am not surprised at all that there should be so many breakdowns in regard to our ships, and I think this is a matter which should require the serious attention of the Government. The Controller and Auditor General also makes very serious comments as regards discrepancies and irregularities in the books in the store yards. I think we should take the very first opportunity we can of calling attention to these matters and getting some explanation of them; and I trust, at any rate, some day when the democracy are more strongly represented here, and those representing the Forces are not so strongly represented, we may have proper criticism and proper attention paid to the Reports of our own officers. I trust we may have some reply to these matters of general complaint with regard to the Services, especially the Navy, for which the money is wanted, particularly the making of final payment on ships without a final test.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.