HC Deb 01 May 1893 vol 11 cc1706-7
*Admiral FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)

said, he wished again to call attention to the existing system of training poor boys in reformatory and industrial school ships for service at sea as being both extravagant and wasteful in its results, and he trusted that he would receive from the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department a more encouraging answer than he obtained three or four years ago when his own political friends were in power. He made no excuse for bringing the matter forward; its importance spoke for itself, and anything that tended to enhance the efficiency of our reformatory and industrial schools and ships should be supported, as it would improve the tone of our Mercantile Marine and ensure for our Navy a better reserve in time of war. He intended on that occasion to confine his observations to the ships and not to deal with the land schools, and in whatever he said he wished it to be understood that he had no intention to reflect upon the staff of Home Office inspectors. That staff was able and competent, but inadequate to cope with the work which they had to perform, and he contended that, it ought to be increased, and that a Naval Inspector ought to be appointed to inspect the school ships in the place of a landsman. A Colonel in the Army, however distinguished, and an ex-officer of Dragoons, was hardly the right person to inspect boys who were being trained to become seamen, If he were told to inspect a troop of Horse Guards, what would hon. Members think of the matter? Yet he knew something about a horse, and could jump a fence, but he doubted if a military man who came aboard a school ship would trust himself aloft, while if he did he certainly would not know whether the sails were properly reefed or furled. The present system of inspecting reformatory and industrial school ships was a farce, and he had had numerous letters from officers commanding such vessels—men of ripe experience at sea—protesting against it. One of them wrote— I don't care who inspects me. Let the Home Office send on board a boatswain's mate, and I will receive him with respect, because he is a sailor and knows his work, but I do object to being inspected by landsmen who can know nothing of what they are called upon to inspect or in regard to the training of boys for seamen. He did hope that the Home Office would hear this in mind, and that they would have Naval Inspectors and a more efficient staff of instructors for each ship. He would be glad to see more Members take an interest in the subject.

It being Midnight, the Debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed to-morrow.