§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,620,800, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Wages, &c, to Officers, Seamen, and Boys, Coast Guard, and Royal Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1894.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
rose to make a few remarks on the question of the Navy. He said that an acquaintance with nautical matters and men, the fact that he represented a seaport town, and that he had had the advantage of much intercourse with naval officers must be his excuse for occupying the time of the House. He was moved by no hostility to Her Majesty's Government in calling attention to the Navy. He started with the assertion, founded upon a certain amount of knowledge, that the English Navy was extremely good, and that it always had been the best and strongest Navy in the world. His belief was that its traditions would be worthily maintained by the Board that now sat at the Admiralty, and by the First Lord. There were some who said that the Navy had lost the advantages it formerly possessed. He entirely denied that. He said that the relative advantage of the English Navy over other Navies was not only as great as ever it was, but was far greater; in all the essentials that concerned a Navy, this country had by far the greatest advantages. It was here that iron had replaced wood as a material for shipbuilding, that steel had ousted iron, and that all the improvements in engineering had taken place. A ton of coal now went four times as far as it did 25 years ago. In armament and shipbuilding they were still pre-eminent. He was aware that in consequence of certain Protocols an amount of power had been taken away from the British Navy which was of great importance. He was aware that they had almost rendered blockade nugatory, and had pretty well abolished 265 prize money; but the time might come, perhaps, when the powers now laid by would be resumed, and then it would be seen that Navies could coerce Armies, that the whale could fight the elephant, that once again, as it had done before, the British Navy could coerce the furthest confines of the continent of Europe, and that those who ruled the sea could command the land. But as regards our ships and guns, he thought there was much criticism that might be addressed to the Navy. As regarded the men and the methods, he believed there was none; but the ships and guns had been subjected to this great mistake: that the Admiralty had not been content to rely upon their own traditions, but had been apt to copy the blunders of the foreigner. But in the men and methods they had followed their own traditions, and they were the most pre-eminent elements in the British Navy. They might have a bad ship but a good crew, and it would be able to work marvels; but if they had the best of ships and guns, they would be able to do nothing if the crew was not equal to the service required of them. He believed our crews were admirable. As an instance of the superiority of our crews and men over those of foreign Navies, he pointed out that the British Navy manœuvred at the close distance of 400 yards, measured from mainmast to mainmast, whereas foreign Navies measured the distance not from mainmast to mainmast, but from the stern of the foremost ship to the stem of the after ship, the interval being 120 yards smaller between two vessels in the English Navy than it was between two vessels of a foreign Navy. The result of that in a line of six vessels would be great indeed, and, while the English Navy would be concentrated, the foreign Navy would be dispersed. In order to carry out these close manœuvred great nerve, skill, and practice were necessary, which qualities were possessed in an eminent degree by our officers and men. On the question of construction, be was interested to hear that they were to have two new vessels, the Powerful and the Terrible, which were to be of an enormous size, and which were to cost £700,000 apiece. The Admiralty had at last come to the very proper conclusion that the guns now used were too big. These big guns on a vessel when heavy 266 seas were shipped used to got full of water, and it was impossible to fire them in this condition without serious danger. He therefore congratulated the Admiralty on having discarded the big type of guns, and on having as their biggest gun the 12-iuch 46-ton gun. But having given up the big guns, he was unable to see why they should go on building two vessels much larger than had ever been built before. It seemed to him that when they had smaller guns, and consequently a diminution in the weight of everything that related to the guns, they might well be content with smaller vessels and have gained the advantage of having two vessels where they now had one. If they were going to have these enormous vessels where were they going to get docks to put them in for repairs? There were no such docks now, and were they to build them at an immense cost? Then on the question of manœuvring, if they went on increasing the length of their vessels and maintained the present sound Admiralty rule of measuring the distance from mainmast to mainmast, it might be that one vessel would eventually overlap another. The Secretary to the Admiralty had told them in the most general terms what these ships were to be, but he had maintained a profound mystery as to their exact dimensions and character. He ventured to say that that mystery was entirely misplaced. It was not the first time the Admiralty had maintained an air of mystery, with the result that the only people who did not know anything about the matter were those who ought to know. A few years ago a naval lieutenant was told off to conduct a Russian around the Dockyards. He did so, and when they came to the place where the models were, what occurred? The Russian attaché was allowed to go in, and the naval lieutenant, who it was desirable should have gone in, was left outside. The House of Commons were not to be informed about these two vessels, but would the Russian attaché be told? These vessels would be built by contract; elaborate specifications would have to be drawn out, and a whole mass of information given to the contractors, and consequently to their workmen, whilst such information was kept from the House of Commons.
SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
Of course, the House of Commons will be 267 informed. At present the designs are not completed.
§ MR. T. G. BOWLES
was pleased to find his representations had had so immediate an effect. He now came to the Torch and Alert, two new sloops, which were to be built with sails and yards. There was some objection to sails and yards as being disadvantageous in an action; but if they were to make a sailor, they must put him where there were sails and yards. As to the torpedo boats, he neither believed in the torpedo boats nor in the torpedo. The torpedo was a fraud, and the torpedo boat a tin toy. The torpedo had been tried and, he contended, had turned out an enormous failure. As to the torpedo boats, they were only one-sixteenth of an inch thick, and if they were scraped the scraper would go right through. Again, the rails and stanchions were so slight that if a man of any weight lurched against them in a heavy sea he would go clean overboard with the rail and stanchion too. Assuming that these tin boats, with their compeers the "catcher" and the "destroyer" were to be continued, he would suggest that for the boilers the steel boiler tubes should be replaced by copper tubes, which would last much longer and would be found to be much more serviceable. Again, he urged that there should be a thorough and rational classification of the torpedo boats. Coming to the proposal that the coaling stations should be taken over from the War Office by the Admiralty, he said he was entirely opposed to any such change. He thought, however, that here two things might be done. In regard to the coaling stations, it should be laid down as a rule that the naval Commander-in-Chief and the senior naval officer should have a veto on the sea defences of the stations. He also thought it would be useful to have a small number of Marines at each station; and instead of all the Marines being in England, there should be a sufficient number at these stations to enable a captain, if he came into port with sick Marines, to make up the deficiency in the number by obtaining other Marines from the coaling stations. He was opposed to the Admiralty taking over the Marines for these reasons: it would be necessary to man them by Marines; they would consequently have to increase the number, change their nature entirely, and ruin 268 them. At present the number of Marines was such that they were half their time ashore and half the time afloat, and it was this which made them the amphibious web-footed soldiers they were. If they doubled the number of Marines, they would be obliged to keep them three-parts of their time ashore and only one-part afloat, and thus enormously decrease their efficiency. Moreover, the Admiralty bad no experience of the organisation of land forces and defence of fortresses, and it was far better their attention should not be diverted from what ought to be the sole matter of their attention—namely, the maintenance of the English power at sea. It would be inimical both to the interests of the Army and Navy if the Admiralty were to take away any of the laud forces from the War Office. Coming to the question of grievances, he said that any suggestions he should make would be made with a view to doing something which would be for the good of the Service. He held the opinion that the Dockyard employé had no real grievances. He had the honour to hold a paper commission in the Royal Naval Reserve of which he was proud, and he should like to bring the grievances of the officers of the Naval Reserve before the Committee. The foremost grievance put forward by them was one which he did not think very well-founded. They said there had been a breach of faith on the part of the Government, inasmuch as they were told they should rank with, but after, the officers of the regular Navy, whereas they were now called upon to rank after the officers of the Indian Navy. He, for his part, considered this quite right. The Indian Navy was a permanent Force, whereas the Naval Reserve was a casual Force, only to be employed in case of necessity. Turning to the question of pension, the Second Class Naval Reserve man got no pension at all, and only became entitled to one when he got into the first class. A first-class man, if he joined about 30, after serving 15 years, or if he joined before he was 30, after serving 20 years, became entitled to a pension of £12 per year. But whereas his service usually ended when he was about 50, his pension was not given until he attained the age of 60. He suggested that it would be much better to give the Naval Reserve man 269 his pension as soon as he finished his service, even if in consequence they had to make the pension somewhat smaller. There was another defect to which he should like to call attention. The Naval Reserve rarely went afloat, and it was now proposed they should go afloat once every five years. He thought they ought to go afloat once every two years. A Naval Reserve man was often a fisherman, and if he was ever to be used for the purposes of war, it was absolutely necessary he should get used to the life on board a man-of-war and into the discipline. Again, the batteries for the Naval Reserve men to be trained on ought not to be shore batteries, but floating batteries. The more they kept the Naval Reserve man on shore the less amphibious and less web-footed they made him. He should like to see the Force of the Naval Reserve somewhat increased. It was to be this year 24,010. He thought if the Government took a little courage, and in some future year increased it to 30,000 men they would find it was a great advantage. This Naval Reserve was not a visionary or paper Force, but a real Force, and everything should be done to increase, to encourage, and to train it. He now came to the Coastguards, who had three grievances, but he would only deal with what he considered sound grievances. Two out of the three grievances he would not occupy time in going into, but the other one he considered a perfectly valid and fair grievance. A chief officer of Coastguard got the same pay from the day of his promotion to the day of his pension, but it was quite otherwise with warrant officers on board ship. The Naval Reserve was a Teal Force, and he was of opinion that everything should be done to encourage it. He hoped, also, that the Admiralty would take into consideration the right of the chief officer of the coastguardsmen to have an increase of pay on length of service, just as the warrant officers on board ship had. He now wished to speak of the training of naval officers. In his opinion, there was something required in this direction; as matters stood, they had too much theory and too little practice. There had been too much sitting on forms and listening, and too little standing on deck and acting. Certain examination papers were sot before the 270 officers; the answers were given, and there and then they were told they had obtained a certain proportion of marks. What the officer was not told, and what he (Mr. Bowles) considered of first importance was, whether his answers were right or wrong, and which was right and which wrong. The officers could absolutely learn nothing from the examination. What should be done was that the papers should be set, and then when examined and reported upon, each officer should be told whether his answers were right or wrong. By this method they would learn something from the examination. If they took the case of the seaman gunner, he could tell all about the length and dimensions of a gun and of the component parts of gunpowder; but he had got too much of that, and all the while he was neglecting what was of greater importance—and that, was whether, if asked, he could hit the mark. He would rather have a man who could hit the mark than a man who had nothing to recommend him but his scientific knowledge and ideas of the scientific character. He was waiting for the usual "No, no," but it did not come, and he was glad of that, because if it had come he should have cited the case of the Serpent, and he thought he could have convinced the House that in that case the theoretical as against the practical training was not without its dangers. The home of this theoretical training was Greenwich. At Greenwich they had a Professor of International Law, a Mr. T. J. Lawrence, M.A., who appeared to hail from Cambridge. This Mr. Lawrence had published a handbook on International Law, which, it seemed, had been adopted for the use of the Royal Navy. The Admiralty had so adopted it. This Professor seemed to him to be a rather dangerous man to let loose upon naval officers, and he was doubly dangerous when his book was adopted as a text book. At the end of each chapter they had "Hints upon Reading," and then, after mention of authorities, they were told that there was a nice book by Lawrence on the subject, whatever it might be. The wind-up always was a recommendation to one of Lawrence's text books on the subject. He was wondering how this gentleman came to fill the post he did, until he came upon a 271 reference to the works of "Historicus"—he was sorry the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt) had left his place—and on seeing this reference he could understand the reason for the appointment of Mr. Lawrence during the time of the present Party in power being in power in 1885. But there was one important thing in this hook which he would call the attention of the House to. It was Mr. Lawrence's definition of what ought to be done at a critical period. He said, "It is evident that no declaration or other notice of war is necessary." Other eminent authorities did not say so. He submitted that Mr. Lawrence was wrong, and he could quote authorities to show that a declaration or notice of war was necessary. He submitted to the House that that was so. Mr. Lawrence went into——
I am bound to tell the hon. Gentleman that the question of whether such declarations are necessary does not come before or on this Vote. It can be properly gone into, if he wishes, on the general question of Estimates.
§ MR. T. G. BOWLES
said, he would not, therefore, pursue the subject further; but he hoped the handbook to which he had referred would not be crammed down the throats of naval officers. He would like to say that as against the system of which he complained the Britannia system of training was one of which they might all be proud—one, certainly, of which the captain and crew should be proud—and the Britannia had one of the best captains in the Navy. In the matter of lights, the Board of Trade did not deal fairly, and he hoped the Admiralty would pluck up courage to have something done by way of amendment in the system that at present prevailed. Then there were the grievances of officers. In the first place, there was the question of leave. At home officers get six weeks' leave, but when on foreign service they got a fortnight, which, according to the Regulations, was to be taken up when the ship came home. But then they did not get it when the ship came home. They did not get it at all. An officer might be entitled to six weeks' leave which had amounted up for him, but he did not get it. What he (Mr. Bowles) had to suggest was where an officer was deprived of his leave at one time it should be allowed to him at 272 another time. After a man had been on foreign service for a long period it was reasonable that he should have his leave when he came home, as he might wish to see his wife or sweetheart or mother or friends, and it was a matter for the earnest consideration of the Admiralty whether the suggestion which he had made should not be carried out. If this grievance was removed he believed the others would sink into insignificance. They took a man that destroyed his health by sending him to an unhealthy station; and instead of trying to bring him back to health, they took off his leave, which was a thing that was not done in other Services—especially in the Military Service. Another thing was, that when an officer returned home sick, they should either keep him until he was able to return to his ship or until his services were not likely to be longer required. Again, there was the question of long commissions. He could understand long commissions in time of war, but in times of peace—in days like the present—he failed to see why they should have a longer term than three years. They had the Surprise on this service for 3 years and 11 months; another vessel 3 years and 5 months; a third 3 years and 5 months; and others 3 years and 4 months and 3 years and 5 months. The question of relief was an important one. It was a mistake to relieve the engine-room—the whole staff at once. It took a new staff a very long time to learn how the engines were worked and to get them up to full working power. The present system was that the whole of the crew was taken out at once and a perfectly new crew put in. His suggestion to the Admiralty was that the engine-room should be relieved by one-third each year, so that they would always have a good proportion of men there who would avoid the difficulty that a new crew was calculated to cause. His next point was as to domestics, for he held that the Government should put the domestics of naval officers on proper wages. Another question was the entertainment of foreign and other dignitaries. It was most unfair that the cost of such entertainment should fall on the officers of a ship. He did not see why, if the visitors required wines or any other refreshment, the officers, whose pay was small, after all, should be obliged to pay for them. 273 They had an allowance made for them at Spithead, and he suggested that the Government should consider the advisability of making an extra allowance all round when such dignitaries visited British naval ships. The Admiralty would find that it would be to the advantage of the Service to do this. He was sorry to say that the good faith of The Times newspaper had been surprised by some person who had been allowed to use its columns for the ventilation of erroneous views on this subject—views which were inimical to the interests of the Navy—and he regarded this as all the more astonishing, because up to that The Times had always supported naval officers in the redressal of their grievances. These claims that were made by the naval officers were not excessive, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would agree with them, and endeavour to relieve the officers. One other question was that of the appointment of Flag captain. At the present time when an Admiral joined a ship he selected his own Flag Captain, and the business of this officer was that he should give his attention to the Admiral, and actually that he should take command over the ship. That was too much for him to do. The official ought to be known as a separate official; he ought to be called the Captain of the Fleet; he should be selected by the Admiral, and he should go wherever the Admiral went, and go there as Chief of the Staff. This, he thought, was a practical suggestion. Well, then, there were the Savings Banks. These were established in 1886, and in a very proper spirit it was agreed that the men should be allowed l¾ per cent. more than anybody else. But the sailor was a peculiar animal. The intention was that the sailor should be encouraged in thrift, and Lord Clarence Paget wrote a statement in which he pointed out that the sailor might by the Savings Bank save enough to build himself a cottage to which he could retire after long service; but this statement, which was attached to the Savings Bank books, had, he noticed, been eliminated—cut out! What was the reason of this? Was it because of the high price of paper? Then it would be an encouragement if the men were to get the money they had saved on some reasonable 274 notice. It was said that when a man went on shore, he would get drunk. That reminded him of a story of a man who asked leave to go ashore, and who was told that if he went on shore he would get drunk. "What is the use of going ashore, making a promise not to get drunk when you are sure to get drunk," was the reply. That was the British sailor of the old times. He had changed from that—there was an alteration in the character of the British sailor of to-day. The man who came on shore to-day came for a useful purpose. They had an instance of men coming on shore for the purpose of learning the French language. These were the class of men whom it was the duty of the Admiralty to encourage, and who should be allowed every facility for saving when they wanted to do it. If the men were allowed to give four days' notice of withdrawal, so that they might get the money when they went on shore, it would encourage them to save their money. He now came to the last point, which was that of the warrant officers. On the question of promotion they were told that it took place for gallantry; but that was not fair, for it was not everyone who could have an opportunity of doing something—engaging in some exploit—which would entitle him to reward for gallantry. What he would like to see was the quarter-deck open to the lower-deck, so that a man might feel that when he had passed a proper test examination, he was capable of being promoted to the rank of an executive officer. They should hold out inducements to men to join the Navy, and make the bluejacket feel that he could rise from grade to grade until he had reached the highest. He would not trouble the House any further, but he hoped his suggestions would not escape consideration.
§ SIR E. J. REED (Cardiff)
said, he did not agree with all that the hon. Gentleman had said. Many of his points he agreed with, and many he did not agree with. Upon one point he had a word or two to say. The hon. Gentleman referred to the theoretical education in the Navy——
§ SIR E. J. REED
said, he had seen many indications of late years to make him think that we were making satisfactory 275 progress in the methods of obtaining education, and he would like to illustrate this by referring to a letter which appeared in The Times the other day from a very distinguished officer—one of the most distinguished in the country—Sir Geoffrey Hornby, in which he called the Admiralty to account for the Minute published in regard to the loss of the Howe, and said he did not know a single officer in the Royal Navy who thought there was anything wrong in going into an intricate navigation like that of Ferrol upon the flood tide. Well, the most elementary scientific knowledge of the principles which should regulate the handling of ships would have shown Sir Geoffrey Hornby that he could not possibly enunciate a more dangerous doctrine, emanating as it did from a man of great and deserved authority in the naval affairs of the country. He (Sir E. Reed) considered that the dangers of taking a ship into Ferrol Harbour were largely multiplied by selecting the flood tide instead of the ebb tide. The Government were not quite fair in putting the Committee under such pressure with regard to these Estimates. Excluding Monday week, which was not wholly devoted to the question of the Navy, but was mainly spent upon a Labour Question, they had been allowed to discuss the Navy Estimates at one Morning Sitting of about four hours, and he was afraid he must protest against the doctrine that there was any public advantage gained to justify the Government of the day in suppressing Debates upon Supply, and particularly upon these great Services. He admitted that at that moment there were hardly a dozen Liberal Members in the House to discuss the important questions before the Committee involving the expenditure of £15,000,000 of money. He did not intend to go deeply into any of these questions, but there were one or two upon which he should like to make a few observations. With regard to the Minute issued by the First Lord of the Admiralty, it was therein laid down that, as long as the requirements of the nation for vessels of war at home and abroad continued as they were, it would be impossible to reduce the number of men serving in the Fleet. He had been for 30 years trying to get some light in a definite form as to what the requirements of the Fleet really 276 were. He would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to communicate some facts to the House as to what were the requirements of the Navy at home and abroad. The idea had been that the British Navy should be equal to the Navies of any two other Powers, but that was totally different from the idea embodied in the Minute of the First Lord; and he really thought that, when they were having large Estimates submitted to them involving a substantial increase in the Navy, they should have a comprehensive statement as to what the requirements of the Naval Service were, as based on our necessities at home and on foreign stations. There was another point on which they should have information. An hon. Member had referred to the Manning Committee, which they were told consisted of the First Lord of the Admiralty——
§ SIR E. J. REED
said, he was glad to have that correction, as it would render it unnecessary for him to make some remarks which he had been about to offer. That Committee, however, had made a Report, and he wanted to know why the Committee of the House of Commons were called upon to vote extra sums for the manning of the Navy while they were kept in the dark as to the conclusions arrived at by the Committee? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would be able to offer some information on the point. He (Sir E. Reed) ventured to say that though the House, owing to the exciting questions before it, was not taking much interest in naval matters, the time was near at hand when many Members who had not been in the habit of discussing the affairs of these Spending Departments would be disposed to ask why expenditure of this kind was so continuously and so largely increasing. Reference had also been made to the Technical Committee. That Committee had, no doubt, been the outcome of one of the most remarkable series of temporary failures in connection with the machinery of the Fleet that had ever been known or thought of. Immense public anxiety had been caused by the fact, first announced years ago by the noble Lord who was then at the head of the Admiralty, that Her Majesty's ships were not to be tried as to speed in 277 accordance with the contracts under which they had been built and paid for. The ships had been presented to the House as being capable of accomplishing a certain speed, and when they failed to accomplish that speed the Admiralty declined to put them to the promised tests. No great fuss had been made about this, although it was a matter of great public concern. They had been told that the difficulty had been almost entirely surmounted, and that the ships were now more nearly capable of accomplishing that which had been promised and which had been expected of them than formerly. How had the difficulty been got over; what was the conclusion arrived at by the Committee? Could not the House be furnished with a copy of the Report? He submitted that, in the absence of information of this kind, it was impossible to say that the House had control over the Navy. Some great disaster might occur in the Naval Service owing to defects in the vessels, or in the system, and yet, when they came to ask for information as to how defects were to be remedied and avoided, they were kept entirely in the dark.
SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
It will be convenient if I at once state that, owing to the interest taken in this Report, so much of it as is not of a confidential character will be laid on the Table of the House. A large part of the Report is of an extremely confidential character, embracing information only obtained on the promise of confidence.
§ SIR E. J. REED
said, he should be the last man to ask for information which it would be injurious to the interests of the Service to make public. There was another point on which he thought the House was unnecessarily kept in ignorance. Speaking of the waste and depreciation in the Navy, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty had said that in 1892–3 it was £2,063,000, and that in 1894 it was £2,150,000, and he added that those figures completely cut the ground from under the feet of anyone who complained of excessive waste. Well, he (Sir E. Reed) wanted to see the implement which had cut from beneath the feet of the House the expectation of economy. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman had given them correct figures, but he would suggest that in future the Government 278 should put them in possession of calculations which would show that the waste represented by those figures was justifiable. It must be a difficult thing to accurately measure the waste in the Navy, especially seeing that the First Lord of the Admiralty had described as still useful ships which had been put down as absolutely valueless years and years ago. To draw attention to another and somewhat smaller point, whilst the House was supposed, in a general way to control naval expenditure, and was kept uninformed as to many guiding facts, the Admiralty appeared to have taken upon themselves to build ships without authority from Parliament. That appeared to him to be a most extraordinary proceeding, and all the more from the manner in which it was announced to the House—without any apology, without any promise of an effort to avoid similar things in future. They were told in a very simple manner by the right hon. Gentleman that the Admiralty had been enabled, by arrangements made within the last few months, to build six torpedo destroyers at private yards. He (Sir E. Reed) did not suppose that the House would be disposed to make much complaint in the matter if the Government had condescended to give them full information—to give them a clear and full statement of the grounds on which they took this exceptional step. Unfortunately, however, they had not done that. They simply talked about it as if it was quite within their right to lay down as many ships as they chose in the course of the year without reference to the House of Commons. Then they had put before the House blank estimates for four of the most exceptional and important—for four of the largest—ships that had over been built in the world. He was entirely with the Admiralty in their determination to build large ships—in this respect he differed entirely from Lord Brassey in the statement he made the other night in the House of Lords. They could obtain from a very large ship service they could not expect from a small one. The hon. Member opposite had said that smaller guns should be put into the ships, that the magazines and munitions, and so forth, should be cut down, and that with the savings they could build another ship.
§ MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said his statement was that, instead of one large ship, it would be better to have two small ones.
§ SIR E. J. REED
said, it was quite impossible to build two powerful and fast smaller ships for the cost of one large one, and he was entirely in favour of the construction of large ships, because he was satisfied they could not secure with small ones that superiority which it was necessary Her Majesty's ships should possess. But his point was that when Her Majesty's Government wanted to build larger ships the House surely ought to be put in possession of their project and their proposal. He agreed with the hon. Member, who had said that the system of keeping things secret which was so often resorted to by the Public Departments had the effect of letting those people know who ought not to know and of keeping those who ought to know in ignorance. He had heard it said that it was easier to obtain information of an exceptional character from the foreign Embassies than from the Board of Admiralty. Foreign engineers come over to this country for the express purpose of obtaining special—and more or less secret—information, and they had, to his knowledge, been allowed access to Government information which had been denied to Englishmen, and to Parliament. Therefore, notwithstanding that he cordially approved of the proposal of the Government, when the Vote for shipbuilding was brought before the House, he should be prepared to join with the hon. Member opposite in resisting it, unless all necessary information was given to them. With regard to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that docks would be constructed for the large vessels, he trusted the designs would not be entrusted to the Director of Works without consultation with the Naval Constructor. He mentioned this because, on one occasion when he was at the Admiralty, new docks were about to be proceeded with which he knew nothing about, although he was designing ships for the Navy, and he had put it to the First Lord of the Admiralty whether it was wise to construct docks without reference to the Constructor of the Navy as to the ships that were likely to be put into the docks when constructed. The matter was referred to him (Sir E. 280 Reed); but there was a danger of this not being done in the present instance. Obviously, it was necessary that the Director of Works should be under the Controller of the Navy, so that there might be one governing mind over the ships and the docks into which those ships were to go. He would only mention one other point, and that should be in the nature of an appeal for information and not for the purpose of discrediting any of Her Majesty's vessels or their designers. In fact, he desired to join in the general praise accorded to the present Director of Naval Construction for the very great success which had attended his labours since he had been at the Admiralty. He had seen an evening or two ago in The Globe newspaper a letter written from the Royal Sovereign, which stated that that ship had been rolling incessantly for many days and even weeks, that she was useless for fighting purposes, because not only did she roll when under exceptional circumstances, but whenever she was out of port. He could not but think that that was an exaggerated account of the behaviour of the ship, but the matter was important inasmuch as it was alleged that the vessel was valueless for fighting purposes. It was desirable that such a statement should receive an official contradiction.
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
I am oppressed with the sense that if I did my duty I ought now to move to report Progress, because during the whole of this discussion in which we have been invited by the Government to Vote money for the service of the Navy not one Cabinet Minister has ever been on the Front Bench opposite. In former Governments when the extremely inconvenient arrangement existed of having only the Secretary to the Admiralty in this House to represent the Navy, the First Lord of the Admiralty being elsewhere, it was always promised and understood that the Chancellor of the Exchequer or some Minister responsible for the spending of the public money would be present during the Debate on the Naval Estimates. My friend, Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, repeatedly moved to report Progress when such a Minister was not in his place, and his appeal was always listened to—a Minister was always brought in. I am sure my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir U. Kay- 281 Shuttleworth) knows that I am not saying this out of the slightest discourtesy to himself. I wish he was First Lord of the Admiralty, and if he were I should discuss these matters in his presence with the most perfect satisfaction. I do not intend on this occasion to move to report Progress, but I do hope that the Government will show due respect to the House of Commons, and that in future when these large sums are asked some one who is responsible for the spending of the public money—which my right hon. Friend opposite is not—will be in his place. I have to apologise for the absence of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord G. Hamilton), who would have been here to night but that he is unfortunately confined to his house by illness. It is rather at his request that I am intervening for a few moments in the Debate. I shall not of course attempt to deal with those naval topics which the last speaker is so well qualified to deal with, and which my hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn is conversant with as an amateur. I will only venture to make a few observations on the finance of the Government scheme. Here I would say that the two authorities who represent the Board of Admiralty in this and the other House seem to speak with two rather different voices. Anybody who listened to the recent Debate on the Navy in another place must have come to the conclusion that it is the opinion of Lord Spencer that when the naval programme which was being carried out under the Naval Defence Act comes to an end next year it would be necessary to have a fresh naval programme carried out under a fresh Naval Defence Act in order to continue the admirable work of increasing the efficiency of the Navy, which the Naval Defence Act has accomplished to some extent, and will still further accomplish in the course of the next financial year. But that hope has been destroyed by the observations that have been made on several occasions by the Secretary to the Treasury. I understand now that the idea of the Government is that there shall be a new naval programme, but not a new Naval Defence Act. They still adhere to the principle which they pressed so much on the House when the Naval Defence Act was under discussion—that though it was very desirable that there 282 should be continuity of shipbuilding, and though the actual operations of the Naval Defence Act had given satisfaction, yet they were such financial purists that they hesitated to withdraw complete control over the progress of naval shipbuilding from the House of Commons. Those are the principles upon which, I understand, the right hon. Gentleman opposite is going to proceed. I confess that hearing that and comparing these professions of financial purity with the actual facts as disclosed in Lord Spencer's Memorandum and the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite in this House, I am somewhat astonished at their inconsistency. The Government in their programme of the present Session have withdrawn all financial control from the House. The hon. Member for Cardiff pointed out just now the extremely cool manner in which the Government have built, without any authority from this House, a number of torpedo boats. The effect of omitting to put in Lord Spencer's programme, or to mention in the speeches in this House the dimensions of the four new battle ships which you are going to lay down is, in fact, to ask the House to pass blank Estimates and to withdraw from this House all control whatever over the kind of ships that are built and over the policy of the Government. Under the Naval Defence Act, although the programme was settled once for all, and though Parliament was pledged to carry it out in five years and find funds to do it, at all events the House of Commons had in the first instance the full programme before them and the programme was adopted. But here we are asked to vote money for the building of four new battle ships over which the House has no cognizance or control whatever. The right hon. Gentleman opposite interrupted the Member for King's Lynn whilst he was speaking, but I do not know whether his interruption went so far as the hon. Member for Cardiff seems to think. If my memory servos me aright the right hon. Gentleman has distinctly refused to pledge the Government to give the dimensions of these ships before the Vote for Construction is taken.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
If that is a mistake a good deal of the criticism I am making falls to the ground. If the Government, though they withhold this information from us at present, give it to us before the Vote for ship construction is taken, a good deal of my objection will be removed, but you must remember that the money we are going to vote to-night can be spent by the Admiralty and will be spent by the Admiralty in commencing their ships. Therefore, to a great extent it is true that the present Admiralty are going to lay down and build ships which have never been submitted to the House of Commons, and for which they have no authority from the House of Commons whatever. My point is that for persons whose financial purity is so great that they will not pass another Naval Defence Act to sanction such a proceeding as that is most inconsistent. I should also like to be assured that the secrecy the right hon. Gentleman is observing as to the dimensions of the ships is not grounded on the desire on the part of the Admiralty to be at liberty to make alterations from time to time. If there is anything more satisfactory than another in the Naval Defence Act it is that the building of ships under it is carried through according to the original plans with great economy and speed. To my mind it would be a matter for great regret to fall back on the old system of construction under which the plans of ships were constantly altered, which caused great delay and largely increased expense. As I am addressing the Committee there is another subject I should like to refer to—namely, the wages of the men employed in the Indian troopships. I presume I shall be in Order in raising that subject. Notice has been given for raising it by the late Secretary to the Admiralty, and it stands on the Paper for Vote 1. The late Secretary to the Admiralty is not here to move that Motion. I should like to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the expenditure under the Admiralty Votes upon Indian troopships is not in any sense whatever in the interest of the Indian taxpayer, that so far as he is concerned you may keep up these Indian troopships or not, as you please. Troops could be carried to India much more cheaply by contract. The present large troopers would be 284 perfectly useless in the event of war breaking out. If war broke out they could not be used, therefore if the Indian troopships are kept up they are kept up in the interest of the Imperial Government and not in the interest of the Government of India. The late Secretary for India—Lord Cross—repeatedly expressed his willingness to make other arrangements for the benefit of the Indian troops. If another arrangement could be made it would be much more economical to the Indian Government. I do not know what the intention of the right hon. Gentleman and the Board of Admiralty is in the matter, but, as having held the office of Under Secretary for India, I am in a position to say that the Indian taxpayer and Indian Government are not concerned in this matter in any way.
§ SIR E. HILL (Bristol, S.)
said the hon. Member for Cardiff had commenced his speech with strong strictures in regard to the pressure which had been put upon the Government to allow time for the discussion of the Estimates, and the want of interest which the Committee seemed now to take in the discussion as evidenced by the small attendance of Members. He (Sir E. Hill) entirely concurred in the remarks of the hon. Member on that subject. There could be no more important question for the House to consider than the condition of the Navy, which was our first line of defence, and on which so much of the National prosperity, not to say the National existence, depended. It was distinctly satisfactory to know that within 12 months 61 out of the 70 vessels provided for in the Naval Defence Act of his noble Friend (Lord George Hamilton) would be completed, and that the other nine were in a very forward state. He concurred in the expressions of satisfaction which had been made use of respecting the great exploit performed by Her Majesty's Dockyards in building the Royal Sovereign, not only with so much speed, but at such a saving of cost. It was evident that continuity of work was the only possible condition of economical success. He felt some regret that more fast cruisers were not being constructed. We had an enormous Mercantile Marino to defend, and in order to defend it effectually a very considerable number of cruisers was needed. 285 There was much to be satisfied with respecting the present condition of the coaling stations. Under the courteous guidance of Sir Charles Warren, the Commander of the Port of Singapore, he recently had the gratification of examining the fortifications of that port, and had had the pleasure of seeing that Sir Charles Warren's resources were such that he was able to man the forts fully in three hours. He was glad to see that something was to be done in respect of the training of officers and men of the Reserve, which was a most valuable course, and deserved every possible attention from the Government. The hon. Member for Lewisham (Mr. Penn) the other day spoke about the engines of the Navy with an authority which was peculiarly his own, and showed the House how undesirable it was to endeavour to effect economies in the engine-rooms of vessels at the expense of the effectiveness of such vessels. Speaking as a steamship owner, he (Sir. E. Hill) confirmed every word his hon. Friend had said on that subject, believing, as he did, that there ought in every case to be a sufficient staff to cope with any emergency that might arise. He himself had a point to bring forward which he thought was of equal importance. It related to the manning of the fleet. He was glad to find there had been some increase in the number of sailors and Royal Marines in the Navy, but the Navy itself was constantly increasing, and the statement issued by the First Lord of the Admiralty distinctly showed that the men now in the Navy were only sufficient for the vessels actually in commission. He could not help asking himself where the Admiralty were going to obtain the sailors to man our ships in case of war suddenly breaking out. It might be taken for granted that whenever war did break out we should not have much time allowed us to make our preparations. It might be said that we should get the men needed from the Naval Reserve. Those men, however, might be scattered to the four corners of the globe just when they wore needed, and it would be very difficult indeed to find them. If the intention was to fall back on the Merchant Service it must not be forgotten that there was a great scarcity of sailors even in that Service, and further, that something like 25 per cent. of the crews were 286 now composed of foreigners. If war broke out it might be assumed that a considerable number of those sailors would return to their own country. Sailors could not be created at once, but must be trained. No boys were employed on steamers in the Merchant Service. A certain number of lads were taken in the sailing vessels, but they were chiefly boys who aspired to become officers, and could not be relied upon for manning war ships. Until quite recently the coast trade and the fisheries could be relied upon to furnish a large number of men, but the coasting trade was now almost entirely done by steamers, and steam was being increasingly used in the fisheries. He knew of nine steam trawlers which wore being made at the present moment, and in all probability not one of them would employ boys. The question was discussed in another place a short time ago, but no suggestion was made for improving the state of things. There was, of course, plenty of raw material. Thousands of English boys would be only too glad to accept the sea as a profession if they had the opportunity, and all that was needed was that the Government should increase the number of training vessels at different points on the coast and take boys on board. He would supplement action of this kind in a manner which would be at once practical and inexpensive. He would propose that the Government should purchase 10 or 20 sailing merchant vessels, which could be bought cheaply enough at the present time as they were a drug in the market. In those vessels lads could be taught something of a sailor's duties, and they could then be kept at sea in the ordinary way. In this manner we could create a stock of seamen from which the Navy might hope to get sailors in case of emergency, and we could fill up gradually the places now occupied by foreigners in our Merchant Service. These vessels would answer still another purpose. In the opinion of many authorities our junior naval officers did not have sufficient opportunity for sea practice and would be all the better if they could cruise more about the world and learn more about seamanship. He would, therefore, suggest that junior naval officers should spend some time on board the sailing vessels he spoke of.
§ MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)
(who rose on the return of the Chairman to the House after the usual interval) said, there were one or two points on which he needed information, but as no representative of the Government was present he would move to report Progress.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
May I say, Mr. Mellor, it is a most unusual thing that not a single representative of the Government should be present?
I do not think I ought to put the Motion to report Progress, as the usual time has hardly expired.
§ MR. HANBURY
I would ask you, Sir, whether it is possible for us to discuss these Votes in the absence of all the Ministers?
§ [At this point Sir U. KAY-SHUTTLE-WORTH entered the House.]
§ MR. GOURLEY, proceeding, said, when the Naval Defence Act was passed, the waste of the Navy was something like £2,000,000 per annum, and it was stated in the Naval Defence Programme that something like 30 vessels, including four battleships, were to be struck off the active list. He wished to know whether this proposal had been carried out or not? The naval policy which had been laid down by the late Government was that this country should have a Navy equivalent to the Navies of two other European Powers, say, France and Russia. He thought our naval policy should be guided entirely by the necessities of the protection of our own interests—that our Navy should be made to suffice for the protection of our food supplies; for the safeguarding of our coasts in the event of war; and for the protection of our Colonies. He wished to know if the Admiralty intended to adopt a system of grouping our Fleet in the event of war. He meant that a certain class of ships should be devoted to the defence of our coasts; another class of ships to the protection of our food supplies; and a third class to the protection of our Colonies. He thought the chief and final object the Admiralty should have in view was the proper grouping of the ships of the Fleet in time of war; that they should have a system prepared, and not leave the matter to the haphazard of chance when the emergency arose. He also wished 288 to know why so many ships—23 or 24 altogether—were maintained in the Mediterranean. The original object of placing such a large fleet in the Mediterranean was to maintain what was called the balance of power in Europe in the time of the French Revolution; but that idea had long been discarded, and he thought such a line of action tended, in the event of war, to weaken our powers of defence and offence around our coasts. The policy of Governments in these days was to concentrate their strength on their coasts or frontiers, and that being so he considered that portion of the Fleet should be brought home from the Mediterranean for the purpose of our own immediate protection. The Government proposed to construct three large ironclads, and two other vessels commonly called battle-ships. He differed altogether from the view of some naval authorities that the larger the ship the better the fighting platform. He maintained it was quite possible to build smaller ships which would have just as good a fighting platform as the large ships. He would much rather see three or four more of the smaller ironclads built than one large vessel, for the cost was the same, while our fighting power was increased. The rolling of the big ships interfered with correct gun firing, while the small ships were steadier and faster and more under command, so long as they were not burdened with too many guns. Our commerce, which required protection was spread over every part of the world, and if we continued to build a few huge ships instead of several small ships, the Fleet at our disposal would not be sufficient for our purposes in a time of war. Therefore, when the Votes for these large vessels came up for sanction he would be obliged to differ with the Government in respect to that portion of their programme. The experience of modern naval warfare had proved that the most effective vessels were vessels of the ram type. Yet there was only one vessel of that description in the Navy. In his opinion, the proper policy of the Government would be to increase the Dumber of vessels of the ram type of a high rate of speed. Vessels of the ram type formed the most powerful element in the naval battles of the American Civil War. He would also point out that it was the characteristic of the British 289 sailor in all our naval wars to get into close quarters with the enemy. He believed that in the future, as in the past, our Admirals would always make it a point to got into close quarters, and, that being so, the most suitable, and the most destructive, vessel would be the ram vessel. For these reasons he hoped the Government would largely increase the number of ram vessels in the Navy. He wished also to call the attention of the Admiralty to the fact that the officers of the Naval Reserve complained most bitterly of having been superseded in rank by the creation of the Indian Marine. In 1864 an Order in Council was issued directing that officers in the Naval Reserve should rank with officers of the Royal Navy. But iu 1891 the Indian Marine was created, and the status of officers in that service was declared to be similar to that of officers of the Royal Naval Reserve, but senior to those officers in their respective ranks, and that the officers of the Naval Reserve considered was an injustice to them. The men of the Naval Reserve had also got a grievance. They were not entitled to a pension till they reached the age of 60, while the men in the Navy proper got their pensions at 50. Considering that the pension was only the small sum of 7¾d. per day, and that not 5 per cent. of merchant seamen attained the age of 60, these men thought the pension should be granted at 50, and he hoped the Government would take the matter into consideration. He also thought that a change for the better should be made in the drilling of the Naval Reserve men. They were trained in an old-fashioned manner on board obsolete vessels and with obsolete guns. He thought they should be sent once in every two years on board a man-of-war. There was no reason why that should not be done. The men would probably ask for more pay, but that should not stand in the way of making the Naval Reserve a fighting force, by putting the men under a course of modern drill and making them acquainted with modern naval guns.
§ MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN (Kent, Faversham)
said he could assure the hon. Member for King's Lynn that the grievance of dockyard men were real and substantial. He would not detain the Committee on that subject consider- 290 ing the Debate which took place a few days ago, but he hoped and believed that these grievances would receive due consideration at the hands of the present Board of Admiralty. He had no wish to unduly prolong the Debate, and he should not have intervened at all had he not considered it his duty to his constituents to bring forward a matter strictly relevant to the Vote, on which he had endeavoured without effect to obtain by means of questions satisfactory assurances from the Board of Admiralty. What he wished to call attention to was a subject mentioned in the supplementary statement of the First Lord—namely, the proposed establishment of a Naval School of Gunnery at Sheerness. Just before leaving Office the late Government struck a very great, and he thought unnecessary, blow at Sheerness by issuing an Admiralty Order directing that ships commissioned at Sheerness should in future be commissioned at Chatham, He urged on the noble Lord who was head of the Admiralty Office at the time the inexpediency of the measure. However, in spite of his representations the noble Lord declined to withdraw or modify the Order, but the right hon. Gentleman proposed as a compensation to establish and develop a School of Gunnery at Sheerness. Accordingly in the Estimates for 1892–93 there was a sum of £3,000 voted for the development school, which sum it was proposed to lay out on drill-ground sheds and drill patrols necessary for the use of the men under instruction. But for some reason or another which he had been unable to discover, not only was the money not spent, but there was no mention of the matter in the Estimates of this year. The promises of the present Board of Admiralty as well as of the late Board of Admiralty had been broken in this matter. On the 19th of January of this year a deputation from Sheerness waited on Earl Spencer and urged him to extend one of the docks. His Lordship said he could not do that, but he intended to develop the newly-made Gunnery School. He (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) put a question last week to the Secretary to the Admiralty on the subject, asking the right hon. Gentleman what steps had been taken to spend the £3,000 already voted, and whether any provision was intended to be made for the further development 291 of the School. The right hon. Gentleman, in reply, said—The Gunnery School has been established at Sheerness, and the present Board intend to carry out a scheme for providing the necessary ground and buildings for its proper development. The scheme first proposed had to be modified; and, pending further consideration, it was not possible to spend the £3,000 voted in 1892–93, and it was thought better to reconsider the whole scheme.He regretted to say that that answer was not accurate. From information he had received he considered the answer misleading, though he did not attribute any intention of misleading to the Board of Admiralty. He had a letter from one of his constituents at Sheerness, who wrote in reference to that answer—At present, in spite of their promises, not a single building has been started, or plot of ground purchased, to carry out the development of the place, and the instructional work is all cramped up by being carried out in the naval barrack-rooms, which are entirely unsuited to the purpose. For the above reason the number of men who can be received for instruction is very small, compared to the number that could be received if proper accommodation was provided for carrying out their drill. A gravelled and well-drained parade ground; a battery for heavy gun drill; an ammunition-room; a gymnasium; a rifle range are urgently needed, and plans and estimates have been drawn up and are at present with the Admiralty, who will not move in the matter. From the above you will see that no men whatever are employed in buildings or draining drill-grounds. The number of seamen at present under instruction for seamen gunners is 120. Besides these, 100 second-class stokers are undergoing a gunnery training. If properly developed the school could receive at least 800 seamen for training.He, therefore, asked the Government for some information on this subject—why the £3,000 which had been voted for the school had not been spent on the development of the school; whether the Board of Admiralty had ready any scheme to develop the school; and, if so when they intended to carry them out?
§ THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. E. ROBERTSON,) Dundee
I think the subject of the Gunnery School at Sheerness comes more properly under another Vote. I can satisfy at once the request the hon. Member made for information as to the present condition of the question. I do not think the answer I gave him on this subject on a former day was inaccurate, and I do not think that anything the hon. Member has now said has disproved 292 that answer. What he asks for is some satisfaction that the present Board of Admiralty do intend to do something to develop the School of Gunnery at Sheerness. On that point I have no hesitation in giving him the assurance he requires. It is the intention of the Board of Admiralty to develop the School of Gunnery at Sheerness. The reason why the experiment is not in a more forward state is very simple. The hon. Member read a letter from a correspondent who said quite accurately the Estimates were made out for the construction of a drill parade and a rifle range. The War Office were requested to transfer to the Admiralty the necessary ground for the buildings. I do not think that I am breaking any rule of official confidence in saying that difficulties with the War Office are the main cause of the delay in carrying out the scheme. The War Office object to giving the site. On account of these difficulties it has been found impossible to spend the £3,000. The whole scheme has to be reconsidered, and pending that reconsideration we have not thought it necessary to ask for a further sum during the present year. But it is the intention-of the present Board of Admiralty to go on with the scheme. The First Lord takes a personal interest in it. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will accept that as an assurance that the scheme will be satisfactorily carried out. MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.) said, he hoped he would be pardoned for intervening in the Debate; but as his constituency had a coast-line of 60 miles, along which there were many coastguards, he wished to call the attention of the Secretary to the Admiralty to the grievances under which these men were suffering. One of these grievances was that the chief officers in charge of the coastguard stations only got the same pay which they had before their promotion, though they were responsible for the drill and subordination of the detachments under their charge, and had also to furnish themselves with uniforms. A second matter was that they did not get the extra 2d. a day when re-engaged; and when they had served the time for a pension they did not get the 6d. a day extra which their comrades serving afloat in the Navy received. Considering that 293 the coastguards consisted of only 4,200 men, who were the most efficient sailors we had, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would make arrangements for spending the small sum of money necessary for removing the complaints he had referred to. There was another matter to which he desired to call attention. Two years ago the First Lord of the Admiralty of the late Government, by some ingenuity, arranged that the refuse of Sheerness Harbour should be discharged in the Estuary of the Thames. This practice drove away the fish, killed those that were not driven away, and spoiled and smashed the nets of the fishermen. He had before this made many representations to the Admiralty on this subject, and about three months ago there was a deputation to Lord Spencer, when they were promised every possible consideration, with the result that nothing whatever had been done. Further than that, the Admiralty sent down a Committee of Inquiry, who sat for a couple of hours, having gone, judging from his experience of these things, with their minds made up beforehand, but who had given them no Report at all. They could got no satisfaction from the Admiralty; when they put questions to the Admiralty in this House they did not got a courteous reply, and, therefore, in order to obtain some explanation, he bogged to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000.
I must call the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that the subject he has been discussing is not in the Vote at all.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
only wished to say one or two words upon this Vote. The hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir E. J. Reed) was a great authority upon all naval matters, and he was very glad to hear the remarks with which the hon. Member prefaced his speech. Considering that one day was taken up by the discussion of dockyard grievances, considering this was a new programme, and considering also the fact that, to a certain extent, they had got to get their information secondhand, because they had not the First Lord of the Admiralty in their House, a Debate lasting two nights upon such important matter as the Navy Estimates was by no means too long. The first question he should like to ask his right hon. Friend was the 294 question put by the hon. Member for Cardiff—namely, on what system they made their demands to the country for the establishment of the Navy? His hon. Friend and himself sat on the Naval Estimates Committee two or three years ago—a Committee, by the way, which only inquired into about half the Votes—and he thought it would be well to have another Committee to inquire into the remainder of the Votes. After all the Navy Vote was the most important that came before the House, and he was not sure that any important step had been taken by the Government, either in the past or the present day, to remove the one great blot on their military administration. By that he meant the Army and Navy Administration, and the great blot was that at this moment there was no proper system by which the two Services would work in unison. Whenever these two Services worked together, they did not pull together. [Admiral FIELD: We do not.] His hon. and gallant Friend said "we do not," but it was the same for the country whichever Service it was. The recommendation made by Lord Hartington's Commission was, that these two services should work more together in unison, and he wished to know whether anything had been done in the direction of carrying out the recommendations. He knew that the late Government appointed a Cabinet Committee but was there anything of the Kind existing now, was there any Committee of the Cabinet that attempted to deal with the joint administration of the two Services? Going to another matter, he should like to know whether they had made up their minds as to the coast defences being in the hands of one of the Services—the Army or the Navy. He fancied from what he heard from some naval officers, who were well fitted to express an opinion, that the coast defences had fallen into the wrong hands, and that the Army were wasting large sums of money upon submarine defences and fortifications. His hon. Friend had boasted that in the last Parliament they spent £3,500,000 upon naval affairs they knew how that was criticised, and he wished to know whether they were to waste another £3,500,000, or what was to be the definite proposal upon the naval defence that was to be established? He should also like to ask, as they were 295 starting with a new policy and a new Government, what was to be the standard up to which our Navy ought to be built; that was to say, did the present Government accept the standard of the late Government, that the Navy of England should be equal to any other two foreign nations? He was asking questions which to a certain extent were questions of Cabinet policy, but his right hon. Friend ought not to escape from answering because he was not in the Cabinet; the Committee was entitled to have the fullest and best information on these points. He knew very well it would be said, "Oh, we are building up to the same point that was fixed last year." There were two things to be said about that. In the first place that was a deteriorated standard, because the expenditure of last year was lower than in other years, perhaps owing to the Election. He was afraid that both Governments were likely to be affected by an Election being at hand, and was afraid it, affected the late Government. As they stood now, they were two war ships in arrear; was the present Vote to make up for them and keep up the standard at the same time? He did not sec that it was—he rather thought it was the other way, and that the ships they were building were in substitution for, and not in addition to, the two that ought to have been commenced last year, but which were not. There was another thing he should like to complain of. They were assured by the First Lord that they had a programme that would extend over two or three years—assuming they had a chance of carrying it out—but if they had a programme why not produce it now rather than next year, for after all it was important our ships should be built upon some definite system continued through a series of years. Every one recognised this was a question apart from Party differences, and what was the result of having a policy of continuous shipbuilding extending over a series of years? It was that they built cheaper, 10 per cent. under instead of 10 per cent over; that they built in three years instead of five, and every one ought to admit the necessity of a policy of that kind, of lifting the Navy, on which the very existence of this Empire depended, out of Party considerations. Though it must be remembered that they bad not 296 the same opportunity in this country of putting great questions of this kind outside Party considerations as they had in other countries, they had not got that strong Executive that had been carefully provided for and maintained in other countries, in America or in France. Even if Parties change there was always a strong Executive to carry out a policy for the benefit of the whole country. It was this that had always struck him as a strong reason why they should have a shipbuilding policy extending over five years, and if his right hon. Friend was sitting there another year he hoped he would let them have a new five years1 shipbuilding programme. Now, assuming that the standard of the Navy was that it ought to be equal to any other two Navies he wanted to know how that was worked out, because there was a speech made some days ago in another place that rather struck him that the Admiralty had not themselves the proper means of estimating our Navy as compared to other Powers. He took the mere expenditure first, and asked whether they were guided by the expenditure? He found that, including armaments, the expenditure upon ships was about £4,600,000. He found that the French for three years had been spending about £2,800,000 a year upon new ships and armaments, and Russia—which had lately been increasing its expenditure upon shipbuilding and armaments enormously—had almost equaled the expenditure of France, for it had reached £2,750,000. If they added those two sums together they found it had exceeded by the sum of nearly £1,000,000 that which we were expending upon our Navy. That was a serious matter, because they were falling £1,000,000 behindhand in this year alone, and both these Powers, France and Russia, said they meant to add to their expenditure in coming years, that that was not their normal standard. The one Power that did not say they were going to add to their expenditure, so far as he knew, was ourselves. There was one sense, no doubt, in which it would be quite possible for us to get as good value out of our £4,600,000 as France and Russia got out of their £5,500,000, but on that point he wanted information because he did not like the fact of this £1,000,000 short, He wished to know exactly whether we got better 297 value for our money than France and Russia got, if we did then the £1,000,000 would be made up, but they ought to have a very distinct assurance from his right hon. Friend on that point. He was not so sure about it himself, because he had some figures given him a few days ago which seemed to show we built one ton of warship for £30, and Franco only built the same amount for £46, whilst the cost to Russia was a great deal more. Those figures were not official in any sense, and he did not lay any stress upon them, but he noticed the First Lord of the Admiralty in another place, alluding to this point, said that we did undoubtedly get better value for our money; for taking the case of the Royal Sovereign the cost would be about £200,000 more to build in France than in England. But there he initiated the whole of his argument by adding that the system on which the tonnage was calculated in France was very different from the tonnage system of England, and if the two systems were analysed the difference would be very small. If so, they had £1,000,000 left, and he was sure the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty (Sir U. Kay-Shuttleworth), or the Civil Lord (Mr. E. Robertson), would be able to tell them whether that could be made up by the cheaper cost of building in England. Another point he wished to allude to was this: Admitting the ships we had got complete at the present day were equal to, and perhaps better than, those of the Fleets of any other two nations, had they got ships completing and on the stocks which in three or four years would keep them in that position? ["Hear, hear!"] His right hon. Friend said "hear, hear!" and if he trusted to official figures he did not think his "hear, hear!" could mean "yes," because judging by the ships on the stocks he found we were in a very inferior position. Take the battle-ships of the first-class, those already complete, we had got 11 to 12 of France and Russia; of those completing we had 9 to their 3, but of those on the stocks we had only 1 to their 9. These were the figures of the right hon. Gentleman himself, so it was no use his shaking his head. Take the second-class. The right hon. Gentleman said we had got 14 afloat as against their 13; none of the second-class either com- 298 pleting or on the stocks, as against their 6. The figures as to our cruisers showed better than for our battle-ships, but then they must look at the enormous trade we had to protect, which was out of all proportion to that of foreign countries; it was three, four, five, six or ten times as much. It sounded well, no doubt, on paper, as a mere question of number against number. With regard to cruisers over 5,000 tons we had 10, as against 4; completing 6, as against 2; on the stocks 5, as against 5; making 21, as against 11. Of those from 3,400 to 5,000 tons we had 22, as against 3; 5 completing, as against 1; on the stocks 7, as against 8; making a total of 34, as against 12. That was a more satisfactory showing, no doubt, but what he should like to make sure of was: was this difference in number adequate to the difference in the duties which those cruisers had to perform. It was not quite the proportion requisite, and though it required some one more of an expert than he was to go into these matters, it was possible even for a layman to know the proportion was nothing like the proportion necessary considering the difference between our seagoing trade and theirs. There was one other point which he supposed he should be able to discuss upon this Vote, and that was what was being done in the way of survey. They had had some experience lately of a number of ships that had run aground, and that in home waters, one case having occurred at Malta. He should like to know, considering the increase of our trade and our war ships, what steps were taken to increase the strength of our surveying vessels? There ought to be at least one on every foreign station in addition to those supplied by the Colonies; but he was told if that standard was maintained we should be at least short of the number we ought to have. He hoped his right hon. Friend would be able to give them some information on the subject. There was one other point he wished to refer to, and that was the point alluded to by the hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. T. G. Bowles) respecting instruction. In regard to this he had looked up the last volume of Lord Brassey's annual—["No, no!"] His hon. Friend said "no, no!" but it was a very good thing to go to on the subject, and he found it contained some most interesting information. He 299 found the information given under such headings as these, "Losses from unskilful navigation. Further instruction in pilotage necessary. Abolition of navigating line." There were also these remarks from the Report of the Committee on the education of naval officers. Though he did not like reading extracts this was so important that he might be allowed to read it. The Report of the Committee was this—Before proceeding to indicate the lines on which a special course might be arranged, we would direct attention to the widespread feeling of disappointment which prevails among navigating officers. Of all avenues to promotion the performance of navigating duties has come to be regarded as the longest and most tedious; while the lieutenant who takes up the gunnery, torpedo, or first lieutenant line is tolerably sure of advancement, the lieutenant for navigating duties, whatever his ability, and however expert he may be, has the mortification of finding his friends constantly promoted over his head. Accordingly the navigating branch, though possessing some advantages, is avoided by the more enterprising members of the profession. It is obvious that this state of things, if prolonged, will lead to serious mischief. The tendency will be to drive every officer of ability from navigating duties, and yet everyone recognises how important it is that those duties should be well performed.That, he thought, was conclusive evidence that what had been said was true. Before sitting down he would like to ask one other question of the right hon. Gentleman, and that was whether he would try to do away with the enormous number of types of guns in the British Navy. In the old days they had an astounding number, and even in the present day there was a very great danger of increasing them. For instance, they were going to have a new quick-firing gun, and that was in addition to the rather long list of quick-firing guns they had already, but it had this advantage, that it was a 12-pounder, and was to have the same ammunition as was used in the gun of the British Artillery. If that were the case it was a step in the right direction, but he hoped his right hon. Friend would do something to reduce the enormous number of guns.
SIR U. KAY-SHUTTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)
I must apologise to the Committee for rising at once, but the time is arriving when we must consider the Army Estimates, and I will therefore, as rapidly as I can, run over the various points brought forward in the Debate, and I 300 will deal with them in the order' as far as I can, in which they were raised by hon. Members. The hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. T. G. Bowles) asked me some questions about the boilers for torpedo-boat destroyers. I may tell him that some engineers have used brass tubes, but our engineers prefer steel tubes. He asked me as to the classification of torpedo-boats. We have first-class torpedo-boats—namely, those that cannot be lifted on deck, and a second-class, which consists of those which can be carried on deck. Those are two classes that now exist. I will not follow the hon. Gentleman into the numberless points he raised that are germane to particular Votes, as they will come up for consideration under those Votes. He dealt with the question of the Royal Naval Reserve; I have already answered some of the points, and others I must reserve for Vote 7. Also with regard to pensions, those points will be better dealt with upon the Non-Effective Vote. With reference to the points raised as to Greenwich, those matters will come up on Vote 5. The hon. Member has made a suggestion with respect to the relief of engine-room crews. It is obvious that there will be difficulties in the way of doing what he suggests, but I will report the matter to the Admiralty, who will give it their careful consideration. The hon. Member has also brought forward the grievances of the warrant officers. That is a question which has been under the consideration of the Admiralty, and we are quite ready to make appointments in the Ordnance Establishment for the chief warrant officers as these gradually come under the control of the Admiralty. Most of these offices are filled by officers from the Army, and no opportunity has yet offered to the Admiralty for introducing warrant officers into these appointments; but as they come more under the control of the Admiralty warrant officers will be appointed to them, and a new sphere of usefulness will thus be opened up to them, whilst it may then become possible to increase the number of chief warrant officers. Suggestions have been made as to giving a new grade to the warrant officers, but the Board do not see their way to overcoming the difficulties which stand in the way of such a course. We 301 feel much sympathy as to the want of prospects of promotion in the case of warrant officers at a certain stage of service. But I would point out that there is stagnation also in some other branches of the Service, and to remove it might cost more than could be justified on general grounds. If anything can be done to improve the condition of the warrant officers we shall only be too glad to do it. With reference to the point raised by the hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir E. Reed), I will not follow him into his observations as to the letter written by Admiral of the Fleet Sir Geoffrey Hornby, because I think I had much better reserve any remarks on that head for the Debate which will no doubt take place as to the stranding of the Howe. As the Papers, also, are not yet in the hands of hon. Members, I think it would scarcely be fair for me to enter into that subject. First of all, the hon. Member complains that the Government were not quite fair in putting the House under pressure as to the time for the Estimates. I think my hon. Friend has under-estimated the time that has already been given to naval subjects. For instance, he omitted the three hours given to the Naval Debate on Monday after the labour Debate; and the latter, I may point out, was mainly concerning the Dockyards, and was therefore, to a great extent, a naval Debate. In my observations on the occasion of the previous Naval Debate I devoted a considerable slice of my speech to the Manning Committee Report to which my hon. Friend has referred to-night, and I shall be glad to give him more information as to the Report if he will mention any specific points on which he requires information. My hon. Friend referred to the fact that, in the time of the late Board of Admiralty, certain trials of ships were not insisted upon. I take a considerable interest in that subject, because it was inquired into by a Committee upstairs, of which I was Chairman, during the last Parliament. I share the regret the hon. Member expressed that it was necessary to release any of the contractors from submitting to the full trials contemplated, but I can assure him that, whatever may have been the case in the past, the full trials contemplated by the contracts are now insisted on. My hon. Friend seems 302 to think that we have kept the House in ignorance as to the basis of the estimated annual depreciation of the Navy; but if he will refer to pages 260 and 261 he will there find the calculations on which our statement are based. But he will find that we have copied the calculation of our predecessors; and that in a footnote we have guarded ourselves against adopting the basis as our own. Again, my hon. Friend suggested that certain ships were being built without authority. He referred to six torpedo-boat destroyers. The right hon. Gentleman opposite also referred to that, and spoke of four new battleships. That is a little inaccurate. No doubt he intended to refer to the two battle ships and two cruisers—four ships in all. Dealing with the six torpedo-boats, there was urgent necessity, in the opinion of the Board of Admiralty, for building boats of that description. They did that which has been done before when Parliament has not been sitting. They applied to the Treasury for authority for using some of the money voted in Parliament for this urgent and new necessity. The Treasury authority was given, what was done was perfectly regular, and when Parliament is not sitting no other course is open. My hon. Friend spoke—and so did the right hon. Gentleman opposite—as if we were presenting blank Estimates for these four new ships. I am not prepared to admit that. We are following the course pursued in that respect by our predecessors. We are giving just the same information—in fact, we are giving a little more than was given by the late Board—in respect of the ships of the "further programme," that is, not built under the Naval Defence Act. On March 14th, 1892, speaking of ships in the new programme, the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) said—The details will be laid on the Table before we come to the Shipbuilding Vote, so that hon. Gentlemen will have ample opportunity of putting further questions to me if they wish to do so.But those particulars were not laid on the Table. What happened was that when Vote 8 was passed on June 9th, 1892, there was not even any reference made to them, and no information was given. But we are prepared to go much further, and before the Shipbuilding 303 Vote comes on we hope the designs will be well advanced, and we shall then be quite prepared to lay such details and particulars before Parliament as may be considered consistent with public interests. It is obvious that there may be certain novel features in the designs which ought not to be disclosed at the present stage, but when the proper time comes there will be no reason for withholding anything, and full information will be given. The hon. Member for Cardiff referred to his own experience in connection with the building of docks, and laid stress on the importance of consultation with the Naval Authorities, and particularly the Controller of the Navy, when any such works were being carried out. Whatever may have happened in times past without consultation with the Controller of the Navy cannot possibly take place now under the new system, the Controller of the Navy being fully consulted on any works of that kind. Information has been asked for about the rolling of the Royal Sovereign. Newspaper paragraphs on that question have been greatly exaggerated. I am stating this on the highest authority—namely, that of Mr. White, Director of Naval Construction, to whom a well-deserved tribute has already been paid, and who has rendered great services to his country. Mr. White has furnished me with the following Report on this subject:—The official returns of the rolling since the Royal Sovereign left England in January last have been received at the Admiralty, giving results of observations made up to the arrival of the squadron at Madeira in the middle of last month. The facts are briefly as follows:—During the first six months of her commission no rolling took place worth recording, its extent being very limited. In June, 1892, in a heavy south-westerly swell off the South of Ireland, the Admiral reported that the Royal Sovereign did not appear to roll nearly as much as the other battle ships. Her period of oscillation for a single swing—say starboard to port—has been found to be about eight seconds. This closely agrees with the corresponding period for ships (like the Monarch, Inconstant, Hercules, and Sultan), which have a high reputation for steadiness; and on the basis of all past experience ought to secure great steadiness under conditions of bad weather at sea.The hon. Member for Cardiff is well aware that ships of long period, such as the Monarch, if they fall in with a long, low swell (which slightly affects other ships of shorter period) are sometimes set rolling through larger angles 304 than occurred in much heavier weather. On the passage to Vigo, and again on the passage to Madeira, this condition was met with by the Royal Sovereign, and she rolled more than on any previous occasion. But even under these circumstances her rolling was very easy, and moderate in extent, as shown by the Returns. The mean angle of heel to the vertical during the period of observation was from 7" to 8½". The maximum angle of heel, occasionally reached, was from 13½" to 16". Bilge keels have been suggested. No bilge keels which could be fitted would appreciably influence the rolling of a ship having the great inertia and weight of the Royal Sovereign. Bilge keels were, therefore, intentionally omitted in the designs after very full consideration. I have omitted to notice what the House will regret, namely, the absence of the late First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton). We all, I am sure, sympathise with him, knowing the cause of his absence, and we are extremely sorry he should not be present. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has suggested that I and the First Lord of the Admiralty have spoken with different voices, but I am quite unconscious of any difference in the voices, and I am sure my noble Friend is equally unconscious of any such difference; and there is no foundation for any suggestion of any intentional difference. With respect to what I said as to the inexpediency of passing a new Naval Defence Act, although it is desirable to have a new programme, I know my noble Friend heartily concurs. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that our view is that it is desirable to have a programme, and a programme extending over more than one year, and we shall not go back to the system of changing the designs while ships are being built. As to the Indian troopships, our experience of the views of the Indian Government does not bear out his impressions; the Admiralty have received strong representations from the Indian Government in favour of keeping up of the troopship system, and a new plan has for some time been under consideration. A Departmental Committee has been appointed, on which two representatives of the Admiralty, two of the Naval Lords, and two representatives. 305 of the India Office, have places, and they will report on the new scheme. I shall be glad to communicate the result to the House at the earliest opportunity. In reply to the hon. Member for Sunderland, I would point out that some of the older ships are being put into condition to form a second line of defence; and the time in which a vessel will become obsolete will, no doubt, be somewhat prolonged thereby. My hon. Friend asks what is the policy of the Admiralty, and he is joined in that inquiry by the Member for Preston. I thought I had fully answered that question in my previous speech. I quite agree with my hon. Friend that we must have a fleet capable of protecting our coasts, our food supplies, and our commerce, but I adopt the statement of the Member for Preston that we have also to keep an eye on the forces of other Powers, and that we ought to have a Navy equal to the task of meeting the Navies of two foreign Powers. But with respect to the £1,000,000 more of money which it is alleged certain Powers are spending, it must be remembered that this country gets a great deal more for her naval expenditure than other countries, because she is able to build more cheaply. Happily we are also able to build more rapidly. As has been admitted, Great Britain is much stronger in cruisers than other Powers; and in battleships is abreast of them, and likely to keep abreast, considering the vessels building or to be built.
SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
I have not the advantage of having the figures before me at present, so that I could check them, but I may say that we shall keep well abreast. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland asked me a question as to the policy of grouping our ships for war, some for our coasts, some for the maintenance of our food supply, and some for the protection of our Colonies, and for other naval purposes. I can assure him these are among those points which are constantly under the attention of the Board of Admiralty, and to which they give every consideration, so that we may have ships for all these purposes. My hon. Friend said he would rather see in place of one large ironclad four smaller vessels for the 306 same price as the larger ironclad. I think I recognise here an old acquaintance—namely, the reproduction of a controversy raised some years ago, and into which I have no intention of entering at the present time. But I may tell him that six Centurions would cost more than four Royal Sovereigns, therefore he cannot get these four smaller vessels for the price of one. As to the Royal Naval Reserve officers, and the question of the precedence over them of the officers of the Indian Navy, that is a matter which was fully considered by the late Board, and I can hold out no hope of there being any change. As to the grievances of the coastguards they will receive every consideration. The hon. and gallant Member for South East Essex (Major Rasch) complains that nothing has been done with regard to the question of dredging upon the fishing ground near Sheerness, as to which a deputation had waited on Lord Spencer. But Lord Spencer, as the hon. Member himself knows, immediately ordered an inquiry. My noble Friend sent an officer from the Admiralty, with another from the Board of Trade, down to the district. Those gentlemen made full inquiry into the matter and found that the fishermen had some reason for their complaint. That Report is now under the consideration of the Admiralty, and I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman shows an ungrateful spirit for what has been done. I can only assure the House that his ingratitude shall not be allowed to injure the interests of the fishermen. If he will have patience to wait a little longer he will find that full justice will be done. After the full reply that I have given, and considering the other business that has to come before the Committee, I hope that we shall now be allowed to take the Vote.
, before the Vote was taken, wished to make some observations. He expressed his regret that the Admiralty had not acceded to the very reasonable proposals of the warrant officers and granted them new rank. The warrant officers did not press for the rank of lieutenant, but they thought they should have the rank of Fleet gunner, Fleet boatswain, and Fleet carpenter just as they had Fleet engineers, Fleet surgeons, and Fleet paymasters, and the late First Lord of the Admiralty had promised that the 307 matter should be very carefully considered. He had noticed that his hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn had something to say on these subjects. He welcomed him as an ally in the sphere of naval questions, but he could not agree with him, and he could not agree with the hon. Member for Preston, because there was no ground for complaint about the talent of the officers of the ships of war.
said, if that were so he held that the Report said nothing of the character that the hon. Gentleman had stated to the House; he must have misunderstood it. If it did contain anything of the kind, then he challenged it. The question had been up before years ago, and no change was advocated, as none was necessary. There was no ground for conveying an imputation on the Service as it stood. The hon. Member for Preston had said that there were too many types of guns in the Navy, but he found that there were practically only eight types of guns, and they were, in his opinion, all necessary and suitable for the vessels that had to carry them. The right hon. Member for Cambridge University had regretted that the First Lord of the Admiralty was not in the House of Commons. Well, he did not share in the regret of the right hon. Gentleman. He had every respect for the noble Earl, but he thought the hon. Member for Cardiff was the only man on the Government side of the House fit to fill the post—if he was in the running at all. The hon. Member for King's Lynn had cast contempt on torpedo-boats and torpedoes. Navy men did not share his view, for they considered it was absolutely necessary to increase the number of torpedo-catchers and cruisers. The naval officers were not too highly educated, having regard to the high standard of education in the Naval Service of other countries. The hon. Member, too, wanted a captain of the Fleet for the small Channel Squadron of about four ships. Well, the present flag-captain, acting under the Admiral, did all that was wanted. They did not want a captain of the Fleet. He was very glad to see the hon. Member for Cardiff in his place, for he had done real service on behalf of the Navy. 308 But where had he been all this time? Why was he not present on Monday and Tuesday to give hon. Members the benefit of his professional assistance? Achilles had come out of his tent at last, and the Civil Lord of the Admiralty would profit by his reappearance. No man had a better right to speak on the subject than the hon. Member for Cardiff, and, personally, he should be delighted if he were sitting on the Front Bench. It was not his (Admiral Field's) fault if he were not. Now, why did not the Government carry out the recommendation of the Hartington Commission with reference to the Services? That Commission considered that it would be of advantage if each member of the Board of Admiralty were required to prepare annually Reports of the working of the branch of the Service under his immediate control. There was nothing in the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty about the mercantile cruisers. Naval men were much interested in those cruisers. The country had been paying £15,000 a year for them for some time past; but the Inman Line had now passed into other hands, and thus the country had paid money for nothing. It was but reasonable that the Government should require in future contracts that, if the Companies sold the vessels or handed them over to a Limited Liability Company, they should pay back the subsidies they had received, subject to a deduction of 10 per cent. for wear and tear. Then there was the question of the torpedo-boats and torpedo destroyers. The provision for ammunition accommodation did not appear to be quite satisfactory, while if, as was stated, the boats attained a speed of 27 knots, which was the maximum speed of the torpedo itself, there was grave danger of the boat outrunning the torpedo, and so coming seriously to grief. When the Government came into power the Dockyards were visited by a right hon. Gentleman opposite in order to hear certain grievances; but the whole question had been settled by the late Government, and he thought that it was a mistake to re-open it. What the Government did for the Dockyards, because there were votes in the question, they were in honour bound to do for the warrant officers, lieutenants, and seamen of the Coastguard Service—men who had no 309 votes. Was it right or just to pass over the men who did not agitate, but who bore their grievances patiently? The grievances they suffered under were very real and substantial. He had often forced them on the attention of the House, but without effect. Would the right hon. Gentleman appoint a Departmental Committee to consider the subject? Then, again, the Surveying Department was starved; and the hydrographer was being worked to death. [Laughter.] The hon. Gentlemen might laugh, but they had only to look at him in order to see that he was fitted for the hospital. The attention of the Government should also be given to the poor men who lost their lives in the discharge of their duty on coastguard business. He had several instances before him of painful hardship. The gratuity given to the widows and children was very small, and something more was necessary. He asked for justice, and he wanted to know what the right hon. Gentleman had to say to his demands? Was it desired that they should be again driven into a Committee to sit on these things? The proper tribunal was a Departmental Committee of the Admiralty. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not pass by his words as of no importance. There was a great deal behind them. He pressed especially on the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the question of docks at Gibraltar. He hoped to have an answer. There was still an hour and a half for the Army Estimates, which was quite enough. He did not wish to prolong the Debate, because it was just as well the right hon. Gentleman should have the Vote, but they had, as he said, time enough for the Army Votes, and he expected to hear the views of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT,) Derby
I am sure the House always listens with the greatest pleasure to the speeches of the gallant Admiral, and to his suggestions; and that any observations he makes will always receive the attention they fully deserve from the Government. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman has stated that we have just an hour and a half left for discussion of the Army Estimates, and, under the circumstances, I would hope that the 310 House will allow this Vote to be taken, so that we may proceed to those Estimates.
§ Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question put accordingly, and agreed to.