§ * SIR E. HARLAND (Belfast, N.)
said, that whilst he heartily agreed with the opinions expressed as to the imperative necessity of our Navy being maintained at a strength fully equal to that of any two of the greatest Naval Powers in the world—which necessitated, as they knew, the expenditure of a very large sum of money beyond the amount provided under the Naval Defence Act—he felt that in view of the observations he had made last year against the construction of the ships of the Navy and of the conduct of some of Her Majesty's ships recently he should not be 704 doing his duty if he ware not to protest in the House against those plans being repeated in the vessels which would, probably, very soon be built as additions to the Navy. He did so with the greatest respect to the Constructive Department of the Navy. He did not attach blame to the present Board of Admiralty any more than to the previous Board, or the Boards previous to that, because he believed that in the Naval Constructor's Department it was imperatively necessary that there should be continuity, more or less, of design and method of construction in the dockyards. But it was also necessary that the Department should be kept as level as possible with all the modern, scientific, and practical improvements which had been so enormously developed in the Mercantile Marine within the past few years. He had not an opportunity before of expressing his views to the House, because he had not the honour of a seat until after the vessels built under the Naval Defence Act had been practically all arranged for and brought under contract. He, therefore, took the first opportunity afforded him immediately after that most lamentable disaster to the Victoria, and again, later, on the Estimates last year, to draw the attention of the House to many of these points. He should not to-day be taking up the time of the House had the present Board of Admiralty taken the slightest notice whatever of the important points to which he had drawn the attention of the House. Judging, as he had been able to do, by examination of the plans of the vessels recently placed under contract, or probably very soon to be placed under contract, it was because he had observed no improvements in the vessels that he felt compelled to place before the House very clearly indeed his reasons for dissenting from the Admiralty having anything like the class of battleships and cruisers which had been constructed within the past few years. That position, he admitted, was a very bold one indeed. He felt, perhaps, that he was standing in an isolated position, but he would remind the House that naval officers held various opinions on these points founded on their own experience. The engineers had their opinions, and the shipbuilders, if they were freely and openly to discuss and criticise from 705 time to time the plans of vessels which were about to be built for the Navy, would, he thought, express the opinion which he was about to give to the House. He felt it his duty on naval matters generally to take this bold front, and clearly to give his opinion to the House at this very critical time. In the first place, he must remind the House that in the last few years we had gone into the construction of a class of war vessels totally different to what was known in this country some years ago—namely, the Monitor class of ships, which we had borrowed from the war between the Northern and Southern States of America. We had followed the construction of the Monitor class, now called battleships, to such an extent that we had arrived at an enormous ship, costing pretty nearly £1,000,000. It was, therefore, to his mind, a most essential thing, when we were about to repeat the construction of these vessels, that we should be perfectly satisfied that they were upon a design, as to magnitude and proportions, which would ensure the best prospects of success in case of war. Whilst he unhesitatingly condemned the relative proportions of all the ironclads and all the cruisers we had built in this country during the last few years, at a cost of something like £30,000,000 or £40,000,000, he felt, at the same time, he was bound to give to the House some idea of what he should propose in their place. It was not for him to destroy without proposing to construct. Up to the present these battleships had been built in length five times that of their beam. There was a vessel in existence, only 12 years old, the Inflexible, which was actually not more than four and a quarter times her breadth in length. It was the question of length which he wished particularly to bring before the House. Most of the battleships were five, and most of the cruisers six, beams in length. Take the Majestic and sister ship just about to be constructed. They were 390 feet in length, by 75 in width and 45 in depth, with 12,000 horse-power, and 1,500 tons supposed capacity for coal. What he proposed in the case of a ship of that character was that she should be 60 feet longer, five feet narrower, and three feet shallower. She would then not only do with 1,500 less horse- 706 power, which was in itself an enormous saving, but would carry 500 tons more coal. That ship would then be 450 feet in length, 70 feet in breadth, and 42 feet in depth. She would be of 10,500 horsepower, and carry 2,000 tons of coal upon 18 inches less draught of water than the Majestic would require. He now came to the Powerful and her sister ship, the new cruisers contracted for. They were 500 feet in length, 70 feet in breadth, and 45 feet in depth, with 25,000 horse-power, and a coal-carrying capacity of 3,000 tons. He should propose that future ships for the same purpose should be 30 feet longer, two feet narrower, and two feet shallower, with 1,500 horse-power less, and to carry 500 tons more coal. They would then be 530 feet in length, 68 in breadth, and 43 in depth, with 23,500 horse-power, and to carry 3,500 tons. He had no hesitation whatever in saying that these ships would not only prove themselves much better sea-boats but would have much steadier gun platforms, would carry much more coal, and draw much less water, qualities which it was desirable should be secured for their ships. In connection with the Crocodile and four more of the transport vessels, the question arose the previous night whether the transport service should be continued by the Government or through private tonnage. In regard to these vessels, he could readily see how much loss must fall upon this country in the working of these vessels, merely by looking at them. They were only 360 feet in length, whilst 49 feet in width, which was really only 7.34 times their beam in length. The vessels should certainly be 440 feet in length, which would have been but nine times their beam in length. All the great successful Ocean ships now were at least nine times their beam in length, and some of them over ten times. The commercial firms of this country knew perfectly well what was to their advantage and what they gained by length. It might be said that vessels of this great length would be unhandy. He held from experience in the manipulation of large ocean-going steamers with twin screws that that objection no longer lasted. If anyone cared to watch any of the large Atlantic steamers coming into the Mersey, and getting to their anchorage through a crowd of ships, he would regard it as perfectly extraordinary how 707 these immense vessels were handled. If naval officers were questioned on the subject he was sure they would say they would not like to try it. He therefore held that so far as the handling of the ship was concerned since the introduction of the twin screw the objection to the length had vanished. But, strange to say, he observed very little, if any, extension in the warships since the twin screw had been introduced. In fact, it was perfectly astonishing how slowly the Constructive Department of the Admiralty seemed to have kept pace with the Mercantile Marine in the last few years. This was all the more lamentable because the money expended in our warships was something terrific, and, more than that, from the light work they wore called upon to do during peace, it was probable they would last so very long that we should be saddled with all their defects for many years until some conflict came which would clear a number of them out of existence. In the meantime, we were piling up enormous expenses on the first cost of ships, and then also rendering ourselves more liable to our enemies, or neighbours who might become enemies in the future, who would profit by our disasters. He had no hesitation in saying we had had three disasters within the last few mouths, which should certainly have made the Constructive Department of the Navy pause very much before they sought to repeat the plans of warships which had recently been repeated and which were being repeated to-day. Take the Atlantic liners, even the small ones, and he would ask, whoever heard of a small steamer coming back on account of the weather? He guaranteed that in the last 10 years no ocean steamer of half the tonnage of the Resolution had put back for such a reason. In the case of the Resolution, he did not blame the captain, but the vessel. It was very likely the captain used a very wise discretion in putting back under the circumstances, but he did hold that a ship of that enormous tonnage, and with enormous power on board, had no business whatever to put back under the circumstances. That was to say, if the material in that ship had been put in proper shape and proportions, if the intelligence had been brought to bear in designing that ship that was brought to bear on the smallest merchant ship, she 708 would have been designed on such lines that she would not have thought of coming back. There was the Gleaner, a little bit of a torpedo gunboat, which went and finished her voyage without turning a hair. The reason the Gleaner and other craft of that description were such marvellous sea boats was because when they were first devised as very necessary adjuncts to our Navy their designing was left very much to two or three private builders. The result was that these torpedo-boats were nine or ten times the beam in length—or, in other words, they were constructed after the fashion of the Ocean liners. In the early torpedo-boats the mistake was that their dimensions were so diminutive that for any practical use in handling them they would require men of a height of only four feet six, or, at most, five feet. The poor seamen told off to man these boats came back from a commission almost hunchbacked. In the recent torpedo-boats this had been changed, and they were made larger. His observations referred to battleships in the first instance, and then to the armoured cruisers. The smaller fry he did not wish to be very sceptical about, or to express any opinion upon. With regard to designs, shipbuilders were often asked about the building of warships, as if responsible. But the idea of the Government was that private builders had nothing to do with the designs of warships; no private builder was ever asked about the smallest thing in the ship, every iota was given to him in drawings and directions; he was not required to think, he was no longer the shipbuilder requiring to know the hundred and one things and to exercise the intelligence to the successful application of which the Mercantile Marine was a monument. He was reduced to nothing better than a stonebreaker. He simply became a contractor, and was not required to exercise his own intelligence for fear lest there should not be the same uniformity and similarity of design in the character of the warships. Successive Admiralties had lost a great deal, indeed, by requiring so uniformly that their designs should be left uncriticised and their directions carried out to the letter. Many of the ships built by private shipbuilders for foreign Governments, he did not hesitate 709 to say, had marked improvements over those of our Government, particularly as to their relative proportions and dimensions, the reason being that the shipbuilders had some latitude given them, and were able to apply their own experience to the work. There was another point in connection with these ships. In the case of one like the Resolution, and so long as heavy guns formed part of modern warfare and there were heavy turrets, these had almost unavoidably to be placed near the end of the short ship, and at the same time, in order to get a perfectly absurd speed out of such vessels, they were made so fine at the ends that when with these big guns and turrets they had to face a head sea they were compelled to dive into it, for there was no length whatever by which they could be borne over the waves. The advantage also of a long ship was that it would give them a much steadier gun platform. They should endeavour to have their vessels as long as possible. Take the case of the Royal Sovereign, which had now been in commission for two years, and vet it was admitted she did not know what an Atlantic gale was. He called such a state of things monstrous. The first tiling she ought to have been told off to do was to have made a voyage to New York or Halifax in the depth of winter the moment she was ready for sea, for the reason that she was the first of a number of vessels that were to be built, and her faults should have been ascertained as quickly as possible. He did not think the smallest owner in the Kingdom would have allowed a new ship, the forerunner of a number of others, to be ranked as fit for her work until he had tried her thoroughly, whereas the Royal Sovereign had not yet seen anything like heavy weather. So far as seaworthiness was concerned, these vessels were wretched sea-boats compared with the Mercantile Marine, which was entirely due to their being absurdly short. In other words, while the Navy had been growing in length by inches the Mercantile Marine had been grown by feet. At the present time ships for the Mercantile Marine were in process of construction to be 160 feet longer than the cruisers which had just been laid down, yet be two feet narrower, showing what an extraordinary tendency there was in the Construc- 710 tive Department of the Navy to cling to the old-fashioned dimensions. With reference to the coaling capacity of the ships, could they conceive any more lamentable position than that of a battleship without a single mast or stitch of canvas, with empty bunkers and the enemy in sight? Either torpedo-boats would attack her by night or the enemy by day would fire upon her and send her to the bottom. A battleship was looked to in the matter of coal by all her torpedo-boats. Thus, if such boats and a gun vessel or two came alongside with bunkers empty and wanted a few tons of coal from an ironclad, and this operation were repeated a few times, the carrying capacity of the ironclad as at present designed and constructed would be soon exhausted. Again, supposing there was heavy weather and a collier came to supply the ironclad, he had not heard of any arrangement for getting the coal out of the collier. He fancied the collier would have to drop astern and wait for tine weather. But if the ironclad was obliged to lie there waiting for coal, she would in the meantime be at the mercy of the enemy. It was imperative not only that these vessels should have sufficient coal and to spare, but also that it should be placed in bunkers more accessible. The cruisers of the dimensions proposed were no doubt an improvement on the old cruisers, but they were of nothing like the proportion they should be, and although it was proposed to have a coal capacity of 3,000 tons they had an enormous draught of water. It simply meant that such a vessel could not possibly approach a great many of our harbours; she certainly could not get through the Suez Canal, and, further than that, it rendered the navigation of such vessels dangerous in the hands of pilots. When a local pilot had been in the habit of taking charge of the navigation of a vessel of a draught of 26 feet and was then given charge of one with a draught of 28 or 29 feet, as in the case of these cruisers, there was a tremendous risk of his putting such vessels upon the ground somewhere, He considered, therefore, that that was another drawback. If these new cruisers, the Powerful and Terrible, and also the Majestic and Magnificent, had been made longer they could have carried this extra amount of coal upon a much less draught of water, which was 711 a most important matter in connection with the Navy. Again, when we fought it would probably be from home. It was not likely that the enemy would attack the British Isles. We should he called upon to send armour-clad vessels and cruisers to different parts of the world; we should have to fight on the enemy's coast, and we could not expect to put into this and that port to coal, whilst, if a collier had followed our vessels to supply them, they would not be able to take it on board if the weather were rough. In every way, therefore, the fact of their building these vessels so short—requiring them to draw so much water—making them so broad, and thus requiring them to have so much more steam-power—these were all points in a wrong direction. Again, so far as stability was concerned, it was a curious fact that the longer the ship the more stable she was. He had known vessels which could hardly stand on their legs until they were lengthened, but which, after being lengthened, became very steady ships. With reference to the armaments, he was not competent to express an opinion as to what they should be, but, whatever weight of armour was used to protect the ships—be it guns or armour-plate—let them always be placed as much as possible in the centre of the ship, because, if placed towards the end of the ship, they were throwing weighty armour away, and protecting a part of the vessel which, if properly subdivided and arranged, would be able to sustain itself for all practical purposes. In the case of the warship Lepanto, recently built by the Italian Government, the four enormous guns were practically exactly amidship, and yet, from their arrangement, there appeared no difficulty whatever in these guns being brought to bear together, over either the stem or stern of the ship, or upon any other point of the compass. Now he came to the question of the Camperdown, and he thought if anything could illustrate a greater want of practical knowledge in construction, it was the steel snout that was put on this vessel without any suitable backing behind. The consequence was, that when she ran into a steel-sided ship—the unfortunate Victoria—she not only played havoc with that ship, but she so damaged herself that she became a 712 cripple, and gave great anxiety to the captain lest she should go down also. He held that it was preposterous to expect to arm a vessel in the bows like this so as to act upon an enemy. They had attempted to armour this ship with this snout in a way that was impracticable. They had scores of vessels armed with these rams in them, and he did not think that the Admiralty had ever tried them against any floating target, as they should have done. A few years ago there were more of them, but they had hardly a depot where there were not a number of old warships—hulks, they were called—and he could not understand why, when these snouts were first made, they did not go full tilt into one of these old hulks. If they had done that they would have been able to have formed an idea from the results; they could then have ascertained whether the structure called a ram would have injured itself or not. In the case of a gun, if every time they pulled the trigger the barrel burst or the gun came to grief, it could not be called a weapon. They should have covered one of the old hulks with 18-inch armour, and then have gone full tilt at her, by which they would have discovered the effect upon the ram. Instead of that, they did not discover this until after the lamentable disaster with the Victoria. The Camperdown walked into the Victoria at only five or six knots an hour, and yet did herself sufficient harm to make it requisite for her to go into port to get repaired. What they wanted was a real ram warship with both ends alike, and so constructed that she could walk at 14 knots an hour through the best armour-clad target they could design for the purpose without doing more than knock the paint off her prow. Until a ram was fit for that she did not deserve the name. As a practical man, he saw no difficulty in producing such a ram, and he would guarantee that one ram of that kind would send to the bottom half-a-dozen battleships in case of a war. There was nothing to prevent such a ram being designed so that shot and shell should have no effect on her. If handled by some of our splendid old salts, by a commander of great coolness, energy, and determination, he was satisfied that one vessel of that kind—of perhaps two-thirds the size of the Majestic, or 10,000 tons, which had 713 not cost more in proportion—would tell a story in naval engagements that would perfectly astonish old naval officers. Generally, men were fond of the ship they had been accustomed to, and there were only a few of them who were disposed to take advantage of modern art and science and to bring it to bear in warfare. Undoubtedly, the next war would be an engineers' war more than a naval officers' war. Then with with regard to the cruisers, they had no masts or sails, and were practically battleships, though it was true they were not armoured as battleships; but, so far as working the ship was concerned, it was really becoming an engineering question. As was stated by his hon. Friend below him, the Member for Kirkdale, the more serious work in the next war would have to be done under the deck in the various engine-rooms. So serious would be the duties which this branch of the Service would be called upon to execute that he felt the engineering department would have to be looked to much more carefully and closely than it had been up to the present time. He now came to the melancholy loss of the Victoria. Whenever they heard of one of these vessels being completed, she was described as being "minutely subdivided by bulkheads." Up to the present time this minute subdivision by bulkheads was simply a trap. There was no practical use in it, and he made that statement from the Minutes of Evidence taken upon the inquiry into the loss of the Victoria. Any one from that evidence, even an amateur in naval construction, would see how deficient she was in a proper subdivision by bulkheads, nearly all of which stopped at a deck with only a freeboard of 2ft. or it. If by an ordinary accident any one or two of the compartments in the Victoria had become injured and Hooded they would naturally think the vessel might sink only a foot or two and be out of trim to that extent, when the commander would run some water into the corresponding opposite compartments so that the vessel might be trimmed for the time. But here they had an instance where the prow of the Camperdown entered two or three compartments only. But these were joined to other compartments by watertight bulkhead doors, and these doors, it was lamentable to relate, were still left open at the time of the accident. Many 714 others would have been closed had there been a proper design for so doing, and what was still more lamentable was that years before the vessel was built the Admiralty were aware of a plan for closing bulkhead doors instantaneously. Though the Admiralty knew this they had never made use of the plan, yet other shipowners had never ceased to use it since it had been designed, for it was a plan never patented, and therefore open to everyone. When the accident occurred there was not time to close the doors, as the particular construction used required many minutes for the work, whereas by the process that ought to have been in use it would not have required as many seconds. A sad point, too, was that the Admiralty Minute on the loss of the Victoria seemed to be an attempt to gloss over the loss of that ship. He was sorry it was so, because it had the effect upon the Admiralty or the Naval Construction Department of causing them to continue to produce plans for shipbuilding with very little improvement on the Victoria. When anything of this sort happened it was their duty to take the full change out of the disaster. It was bad enough to lose by a disaster; but if they did not take any advantage of it, it made the loss tenfold. If they had not been able to get experience by a regular naval engagement, at least they should get all the information possible out of these terrible disasters when they occurred. He saw the gallant Admiral, Member for Eastbourne, was present, but he felt he must trespass on his special department. He wished now to refer to the matter of the manœuvre. He held that the manœuvre on the Victoria was one which ought not to have been attempted, and he would give his reasons for saying so. It was a manœuvre in which the vessels were directed to turn inwards to each other. He held that such a manœuvre ought to be struck off the Admiralty books and never allowed to be performed, especially when they might turn outwards, which would accomplish the same thing. These ships in line might have approached to within 100 yards, and then when the order came they should have turned outwards. In doing so there was no chance of running into any of their neighbours. Even if 715 any accident occurred to their steering gear, or the screw got disabled, they ran no risk in attempting to turn outwards; but in turning inwards they ran very great risk if their steering gear got out of order, or one of the engines broke down, in which case they could not have the benefit of the twin screws for manœuvring the ship. By turning inwards they gained nothing, and ran the terrible risk which resulted in this accident that proved so fatal. He might be told it was all very well to speak after the event; but what he wanted to point out was that they ought to take advantage of it after it had occurred; and when they saw that a manœuvre of the kind was attended with risk, while the other manœuvre was not attended with any risk, surely it was unwise to attempt a manœuvre that they knew had been so disastrous. In view of all these points, on which he had ventured, quite at too great a length, to detain the House, he felt that when they wore on the threshold of spending at least £10,000,000 upon further ships, the House should insist, before granting such an enormous sum of money, upon the necessity or desirability of the matter being referred, if the House thought proper, to a small Committee of this House, or to a Committee of the Admiralty, on which he thought the engineering element should form a part, and upon which he also thought some of the shipbuilders of the Mercantile Marine should form a part. In this way the experience of the Admiralty and that of the builders of the. Mercantile Marine would be brought together, and they might obtain, what he held they had not yet got, much more perfect warships.
§ SIR E. J. REED (Cardiff)
said, that in taking note of the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down be was sorry to say he should have to open up a very wide field of difference between them, for, certainly, if the hon. Member's speech had brought to their notice some points of considerable importance, undoubtedly it had opened up some of the oddest ideas he had ever heard in connection with naval construction. For instance, in his disquisition the hon. Member told the House that the proper thing to have done the first time a ram bow was constructed was to run it full tilt into a hulk armoured with 716 18 inches of armour to receive it. If his hon. Friend would forgive him, he would say no Admiralty could ever have entered on a more foolish or futile experiment than that would have been, and for the obvious reason that the difficulties that occur and the accidents and dangers that occurred to ships when ramming each other invariably arose from the fact that the ship rammed was in motion; consequently any attempt to prove the value of the ram by running it square into the bottom of a moveless object would be quite futile. He remembered very well watching and examining in Portsmouth Harbour the effect of the ramming of one German ironclad by another. It would be remembered by hon. Members that the KÕnig Wilhelm was sunk by the Grosser Kiirfurt off Folkestone. Now, what happened in that case? The whole effect on the KÕnig Wilhelm arose from the fact that the projecting ram was being carried forward by the onward motion of the ship struck, and thus formed a lever, which, acting above the struck part of the vessel, tore the whole of the stern out of its holdings.
§ SIR E. HARLAND
said, the ram which he depicted was one which would stand going full tilt into another vessel if that vessel were going 15 knots an hour. He held it could be constructed to go at any angle into another ship, but no man would seek to attack at an angle if he could get square on, and that was one of the things which would show the cleverness of the commander.
§ SIR E. J. REED
said, he did not know what ram the hon. Member had depicted. What he called attention to was this: the difficulty of making a ram bow capable of doing what the hon. Member's ram bow could do was that the bow had to be formed at the very entrance to the vessel, an entrance that was very fine, and being very fine was very well taken hold of by a passing ship. However, far be it from him to suggest his hon. Friend could not do what he said. If the hon. Member produced a ram bow that was not capable of being destroyed, capable only of having the paint scraped off by collision with a battleship, he hoped he would not think the Admiralty were so backward in regard to improvements that they would not, without the least hesita- 717 tion, accept a ram bow of such a type. But if he might venture to say so—and his hon. Friend would excuse him for being as frank as he had been in this Debate—he would say there was a most extraordinary fundamental fault in the whole speech and argument of his hon. Friend. One phase of that fault was to be found in the fact that in the early part of his speech the hon. Member described the battleship and the cruiser and argued as if there were no difference between the two, and he made a note at the moment intending to express his surprise that an hon. Gentleman, an expert shipbuilder of great reputation and of known and undoubted knowledge, should not have seen at once the fundamental difference that existed between a battleship and a cruiser. Notwithstanding that, his hon. Friend in speaking of cruisers said they were in fact battleships. But they differed in this respect—that, the cruiser had nothing, as cruisers were built—he was not a great, admirer of them himself—but as they were built they had nothing but a cover for the engines, and so forth. Now, his hon. Friend ought to know, as a naval designer, that when they were dealing with deck protection they were at perfect liberty to make the length and breadth what they pleased, because, as any Member of the House could see, when they had a given depth of ships and wanted to protect a certain amount of displacement from vertical attack it did not matter whether they made it broad and short or long and narrow; the deck area was precisely the same if they protected the same measure of displacement with the same duck area of iron. That being so with the cruiser, what was the state of things with the battleship? His hon. Friend talked as if they could go and make a battleship 500 feet long and comparatively narrow just as they could do with a cruiser. His hon. Friend knew, as a naval constructor, the value of length in a passenger ship; but when they came to a battleship, when they were going to put 18 inches of armour on the side several feet above water and several feet below the water, was it then of no consequence what the length of the ship was? [An hon. MEMBER: No.] No; then he could only say he had very little respect for the opinion of his hon. Friend, and he required no further proof that the hon. 718 Member had never designed a ship with 18-inch armour.
§ SIR E. HARLAND
said, his hon. Friend was contemplating that armour would be carried to the end of the 500 feet, but the plan was not adopted.
§ SIR E. J. REED
said, if the hon. Member would excuse him, he was not supposing anything of the kind; what he did suppose was, that they did not carry their armour approximately to the end of the ship; they had to complete the armour protection by seeing that they did not necessarily give any great amount of weight. His hon. Friend had declared himself an opponent of armoured protection at the ends of ships. He agreed with that to some extent. Personally, he had never advocated as a necessity the armouring of the fine wedge ends of Her Majesty's ships, and it, would he unwise to put, armoured protection where there was no displacement to protect; but if the hon. Gentleman made a tine-ended ship, and intended to produce the very powerful ram of which he had spoken, he would, in the place of the armour which he took away, have to put something else of a very weighty character.
§ SIR E. J. REED
said, the point on which he differed absolutely from his hon. Friend was where he thought that the remedy, in such a case as that of the Victoria, would be the adoption of automatic water-tight doors.
§ SIR E. J. REED
said, he thought his hon. Friend wanted doors that would close instantly, and so be on an automatic arrangement. But there was a very important question involved in this. While his friends at the Admiralty were willing to tell the best story they could in regard to the Victoria, they took good care not to repeat the features of the Victoria in the new battleships which they were building. What they did now was to carry the armour so far forward towards the how that they left, unarmoured only as much of the ship as they could leave unarmoured with safety, and if an accident were to occur to one of the new battleships like that which happened to the Victoria the injury would, therefore, 719 be much more limited in extent. On the question of water-tight doors, he wished to say that if they left unarmoured only so much of the ends of the ship as they did not want to use of the line of the work, they might have as perfect a system of water-tight doors as they pleased, and have them worked automatically, because what they wanted when an accident happened was to be able to shut off that portion of the ship in which the accident took place from the working part of the ship. But in the case of the Victoria and of all ships of that type, which he had never ceased to condemn, the unarmoured part of the vessel was the part in which the men lived, and in which the magazine, torpedo rooms, store rooms, and other compartments were placed, and to which the crew must have access during battle. If the Admiralty had sent out, a Minute instructing the men in Her Majesty's ships to close the water-tight doors as soon as an accident happened, and so shut up their fellows in compartments from which there was no escape, he hoped the men would never carry out such an order, because it was against human nature that it should he enforced. In passenger ships, some of the finest and most successful of which had been designed by the hon. Member for North Belfast, there were transverse bulkheads, and the water-tight doors could be shut as rapidly as possible, because they only prevented access from one compartment to another, and did not prevent access from the compartments to the deck above. But when, as in the case of the Victoria, these was no access to the deck from the compartments when the water-tight doors were closed, it was cruel and inhuman to shut up the men in such deathtraps and leave them to their fate. It was an utterly impossible state of things. His hon. Friend had confounded the cruiser with the battleship, and saw no necessity why they should be of very different proportions.
§ SIR E. HARLAND
I meant that there was no external difference between them; that if two ships were a mile apart no one could tell whether one was armed and the other unarmed.
§ SIR E. J. REED
said, he had not the slightest idea that his hon. Friend had been speaking of external appearances, and not construction. They were deal- 720 ing with structures which had to be packed with guns, arms, and torpedoes, and all the experience of his hon. Friend was absolutely at fault if he supposed that anything was gained in steam power by making a heavily-armoured battleship excessively long. From his own experience in naval construction he could mention a ship 300 feet long built by him, which accomplished the same results as one 400 feet long, the armour, armament, engine, and boiler power being the same in each case, while the cost of the former was £100,000 less than that of the latter. They would find that a short ship would go as fast as a long one, and save £100,000 in the building of it. The Member for Lewisham, who sat opposite, was the son of the man who participated in the experimental inquiry which brought about that brilliant success. The displacement was not the same in the case of those two ships; but what was the advantage of making the displacement the same when they had the same capacity for offence and defence and the same coal capacity? He was willing to admit that in steaming at sea they certainly got an enormous advantage from the greater length, and he was not sure whether in these days the naval mind would not be brought to the acceptance of much greater lengths in Her Majesty's ships than we yet saw. He thought his hon. Friend, before addressing the House, ought to have placed upon paper his long and narrow battleship, armed and armoured as were Her Majesty's new battleships. He would be very much surprised if the hon. Gentleman attempted to produce such a ship, though, indeed, he ought to be careful in making that statement, for his hon. Friend never put forward anything that was not successful. He feared, however, that a vessel of that kind, armed and armoured as a battleship, would roll not as the Resolution rolled, but roll bottom upwards, and do that very quickly. What was the net outcome of his hon. Friend's advocacy of great length and small breadth? Let them consider what sort our warships were. For half its length the ship was filled up with steam boilers, and magazines containing powder, torpedoes, dynamite—in fact, the ship was one mass of explosives from stem to stern, and utterly unlike the boats, in construction 721 and purpose, which his hon. Friend the Member for North Belfast built with so much merit and success. Their object should be to keep the explosive things on board battleships as far away from the enemy as they could have them. Under the scheme of his hon. Friend these explosives would be near to the enemy. If they had ships broad in the middle they could keep the boilers and magazines in the centre, at a considerable distance from the enemy's attack, whether by torpedo or ram. But if they had narrow ships built, and gave them the small breadth of which his hon. Friend was so fascinated, the enemy could destroy them with greater readiness.
§ SIR E. J. REED
said, be bad been recently asked by a naval authority what he thought of the existing warships in this respect, and whether he thought them fairly safe from the enemy. He had been obliged to answer in the negative. What be would like to see done was the building of battleships which would be less of a ship and more of a fortress—ships with centre accommodation for extensive war material, and with less steaming qualities than heretofore. He ventured to say that the circumstance which had prevented the construction of such battleships was the dock accommodation. But he asked the Admiralty to consider whether the time was not passed for the making of battleships simply to conform to these holes in the ground, when there were such capabilities in the construction of floating docks to receive ships of any depth of water. He apprehended that if everyone present were to make objection to the ships about to be constructed they would do so without doubt. But he would commend to the consideration of the Admiralty, with regard to the future development of the Navy, whether it would not be well to make our ships 100 feet broad, or 120 feet if they liked, if by making them so we could keep the enemy away from the vital portion of the ship and give ourselves the chance of winning a, great battle? He hoped he would not be told by the hon. Member for Gateshead, who, no doubt, would follow him, that be was all for breadth and all against length in the construction of these ships. No; 722 he was in favour of adapting our means to our ends, and he said that with regard to warships and battleships the first end was to keep the ship free from the fire of the enemy. He should like his right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty to give them an assurance that the ships about to be built would be built on lines that would make them invulnerable to guns, rams, or torpedoes. One thing he was certain of, and that was that they would never get such an assurance with respect to any vessel whatever if they followed the lines suggested by his hon. Friend the Member for North Belfast. With regard to the Resolution, he had been asked the other day what he thought of her; and while he admitted there had been reason for a good deal of anxiety, he said there was no danger to the ship. He believed there still existed a very considerable amount of anxiety, not as to the danger of vessels capsizing, but as to their efficiency at sea, and it would be well to have it set at rest as soon as possible. He thought it unfair of his hon. Friend the Member for North Belfast—he meant from an argumentative point of view—to point out that while the Gleaner went well in a storm the Resolution rolled heavily. Why, a little boat would go well on waves that "rolled" a large ship! They might have two ships, one of which rolled violently and the other went smoothly over the same waves one day, and yet the one that went well to-day might roll to-morrow, and vice versâ. To his mind, the fact that a small vessel did not roll while a large vessel rolled violently did not mean censure for the large vessel or praise for the small one. In the Report of the Admiralty there was a case in point. An Admiral of the Channel Squadron had his squadron off the West of Ireland, and one of the ships was ordinarily a very heavy roller. She was one of his (Sir F. J. Reed's) ships, but was built for a pacific purpose and with a light draught of water. But on the West Coast of Ireland, where the Atlantic waves rolled in, the usually rolling ship was perfectly steady, while the ordinary steady ship rolled with as much violence that if it did not alarm the Admiral, it highly astonished him, and he wrote a Report to the Admiralty, as if a miracle had occurred. His hon. Friend the Member for North Belfast had said that when 723 a ship was lengthened her stability increased. But where was a ship usually lengthened? In the middle part. The stability of a ship was derived from her middle part. The ends were unstable; the middle supplied the stability which kept the ends up; and if they cut a ship in two and added a considerable length to her stable part, they, of course, made her more stable. That was so obvious that he must express his surprise that his hon. Friend should bring it forward as an argument in supporting his contention.
§ SIR E. J. REED
said, that when his hon. Friend was in the House as long as he was he would not be so anxious to keep himself right on all points. he intended to put his hon. Friend wrong on all points, but he would do it with the greatest friendship, and with an admiration for his hon. Friend's success as a shipbuilder. His hon. Friend made a singular mistake in lightly treating the necessity for uniformity in the building of ships. For his part, he had a complaint treasured up against the Admiralty for unnecessarily departing, as he thought, from uniformity. He thought that when they built a number of ships of similar sizes and of a similar type, it was of the greatest moment that those ships should be uniform in their internal arrangements. If it were otherwise the men would be all at fault. They would have to learn every new ship, though, to all intents and purposes, it was of the same type and character as the others. He was quite certain that any departure from uniformity would tell against us in many ways. He remembered a discussion which took place at the Board of Admiralty as to the dimensions of shells. One naval officer, a very experienced man, said—"Do not let us have 10-inch and 11-inch shells, because in the haste of battle the men will mistake one for the other, and the use of the guns will be lost. Make the difference palpable. Have a 12-inch shell; but do not have shells so nearly alike, and yet so different in sizes. "His hon. Friend the Member for North Belfast had said that if the Admiralty designed a ship and sent it out to be built by a contractor they should be satisfied if the general plan were fol- 724 lowed, and let the contractor have scope. The hon. Member for North Belfast was not the first private shipbuilder that came to the House of Commons and told the Government that in that respect they were wrong. The late Mr. John Laird, of Birkenhead, for many years took the same line. But while he had been engaged at the Admiralty he saw too much of the departures from the original design by contractors to favour such a policy. He remembered on one occasion, when a certain number of ships were to be built, he said that it was a good time to try the result of putting them up for competition amongst the contractors. But not one of the contractors followed out the design, and the Government had to have the design followed afterwards. he therefore thought the Admiralty was right in giving out a design and insisting on its being carried out. He apologised to the House for the length of time with which he had occupied them, and thanked them for the kind hearing they had given him.
§ MR. W. ALLAN (Gateshead)
said, that he had listened with great interest to the remarks of the hon. Member for North Belfast and also to those of the hon. Member who had just sat down with regard to the construction of men-of-war. No doubt the opinion of the hon. Member for Belfast as to the designing of first-class merchant vessels stood high, but he (Mr. Allan) must take exception to a great deal that the hon. Member had said when trying to show a similarity between merchant vessels and men-of-war. The hon. Member had overlooked the fact that a ship of war was practically a compromise. It would be impossible to convert a man-of-war into a merchant vessel, or a merchant vessel into a man-of-war. In looking at a man-of-war it was necessary to take into consideration her defensive as well as her offensive elements, which made her altogether different from a merchant steamer. When they came to take into consideration those two elements alone, leaving out the machinery and coal capacity, they were brought face to face with a state of things totally different to those which applied to a merchant steamer. Merchant ships were built low and narrow. An Atlantic liner was so constructed that she would attain a maximum of speed which could not be attained by a man-of-war. It was a mere waste of time, 725 therefore, to endeavour to draw comparisons between the Atlantic liner and the man-of-war. However, there was one point in the hon. Member's speech which he had heard with a great deal of pleasure, and that was that the future naval wars in which this country might have to engage would be engineers' wars. No doubt t hat would impress itself on the House as it impressed itself on him (Mr. Allan). For his part, he was perfectly willing to leave the subject of the construction of men-of-war to the Director of Naval Construction and naval experts, who were fully capable of designing such vessels. He should object to hampering them by the appointment of a Committee of so-called experts. A looker-on might feel himself perfectly capable of giving instructions, but when set to do the job himself—say, for instance, to design a battleship—-his ability fell very far short of his own estimate of himself. But he (Mr. Allan) entirely agreed with the hon. Member for North Belfast that we ought to ensure that our men-of-war bad an adequate complement of engineers. A man-of-war ship nowadays was neither more nor less than a factory. It was a factory of destruction. The men who worked it were the engineers. They it was who had to give it its true value, and the best results would be obtained from that ship which had the best men and the best machinery in the engineers' department. He feared that the disposition was to look too much to ships and too little to men, and to fail to realise the great responsibility which rested on the engineering staff. They had their captains who were responsible for the ship's steering, and fighting, and going from port to port. They had their surgeons who were responsible for the health of the ship. They had their paymasters who were responsible for the cash book and the storehouse. But the engineers, what were they responsible for? The House would be startled to hear what the engineers had to do on board a twin-screw cruiser of 20,000-horse power under forced draught. In such a vessel there were 85 auxiliary steam engines, three auxiliary steamboats, 24 Whitehead torpedoes, two submerged torpedo tubes, five torpedo tubes above water, 164 water-tight doors, 30 water-tight hatches, 98 water-tight manholes, 207 sluices and drain valves, 21 venti- 726 lating valves, four Downton pumps, 23 flooding valves for magazines, 32 Hooding valves for compartments. And over and above all this the engineers were responsible for all the engine fittings—for the breech mechanism and other details in connection with the armaments of the vessel. To look after these things there was only one staff or chief engineer, five engineers and assistant engineers, three chief engine-room artificers, and nine engine-room artificers. He asked as an engineer, Were these enough men to look after the machinery? He said "no." The engine-rooms were undermanned. Compare them with the men in the engine-room of one of the Atlantic liners of 15,000-horse power. There they had one chief engineer, one senior second, two junior second, one senior third, five junior third, one senior fourth, five junior fourth, three fifth engineers, three electricians, two hydraulic engineers, and two refrigerating engineers, or a total of 26 on the engineering staff.
§ MR. W. ALLAN
Eight. He had not mentioned stokers at all. On a man-of-war ship of 20,000-horse power there were only 20 engineers as compared with 26 on an Atlantic liner of 15,000-horse power. What he wished to do without going more into detail as to the management-of the engine-rooms—which he could do, if necessary, to the strengthening of his case—was to impress upon the Admiralty the fact that they were overlooking entirely the one great element of the safety and usefulness of these ships. The hon. Member for North Belfast had mentioned incidentally the rolling of the Resolution. Well, he never liked to look upon the rolling of ships in any other light than as the general consequence of a ship being at sea. It was impossible that a ship could go to sea, without rolling or taking in water. He had never in the whole of his experience found it possible to avoid these things; therefore he would not in any shape or form condemn the officers of the Resolution or condemn the ship. It required no effort of genius to condemn a thing, and he did not mean to do it. He wished to show the House the condition of the engineers' department on the Resolution, 727 and to do that he would read a portion of a letter which he had received from a man in the engine-room. He wrote—The crank-pits were full of water. Five feet of water were in the bilges. We thought the sea suck-pipe flanges had drawn through working and vibration of engines. We had a very anxious time. The sea was six inches deep over the stoke-hole plates and came down the ash-hoist tubes, clearing the men out of the stokehole. The forward compartment was flooded. All the pumps were kept going to try to rid the ship of water. The ship was rolling heavily. Everybody was on their hands and knees in the engine-rooms. The sea coming in the forward barbettes the barbette screens were unshipped and washed overboard. We were hanging on to the regulation valves in the engine-room for nearly 48 hours, endeavouring to stop the racing of the engines. The seas were coming down into the engine-room over the upper deck combings to the ventilating trunks, which are four feet high above the deck. We were all battened down except one hatch between the funnel casings, and all most uncomfortable in the engine-room, with the cranks rising in the water; in fact, a water wheel was nothing to it.He wished to impress upon the House that the construction of ships was not the chief matter for consideration. Ships could be built easily enough, but they could not build men. Why was it that they did not get engineers for the Navy? Why was it that there had been no response to the advertisements of the Admiralty for assistant engineers? Why was it that in five years in response to advertisements they had only got nine engineers? The reason why more men would not serve in the Navy as engineers was that those so serving were not treated and paid well enough. The anomalies in the Service, so far as these matters were concerned, were absurd and sufficient to make anyone responsible for the Navy blush. He had always considered that a man's pay ought to be in proportion to the responsibilities of his position, but, unfortunately, that was not a rule prevailing in the Navy. A naval chaplain was paid £260 a year, whilst an assistant engineer, who was largely responsible for the safety of the ship, only received the miserable pittance of £130, and out of that had to buy his clothes and pay part of his mess expenses. The Fleet surgeon received £540 a year, and the Fleet engineer only £390; the staff' surgeon £240, and the staff engineer £200. A surgeon, no doubt, was useful to take a bolt out of a man's leg; but what could he do if a steam pipe burst, or a shot went through the 728 chimneys? This anomaly was ridiculous. It was not honest. Then the assistant paymaster—a mere clerk—received £170, and the assistant eugineer£130. Shame on the Department that was responsible! No wonder engineers could not be induced to join the Navy. Had he to choose himself he would rather break stones than serve as an assistant-engineer, or stand at a lathe for 30s. a week. The engine-room artificers were paid only £9 10s. per month—less than a third engineer on board a steam collier. They had, moreover, no position and no prospects, notwithstanding the importance of their work. He felt very strongly on this matter, which was not one of political Parties at all. They could only look at; the Navy from the lofty point of view of national salvation and strength, and he appealed to the Secretary to the Admiralty to take the matter up in that spirit, and sweep away all existing anomalies. Let engineers and artificers be given adequate pay, and let the accommodation provided for them be improved. Lengthen the ships another 10 feet, and give them proper housing—give them comfortable berths and a comfortable mess-room, and space for a bath when they came out of the dirty engine-room. Let them do something to encourage young men to enter the Service. He had 50 or 60 apprentices at his engineering works, and recently he had gone up to a dozen of them just out of their time and had urged them to enter the Government Service, but they had every one declined. Encouragement should be given to such men. The importance of treating naval engineers justly could not be exaggerated. Upon them, and them alone, did the safety of the British Fleet depend.
§ MR. PENN (Lewisham)
said, he noticed with great satisfaction from the published statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty that there was to be an increase in the number of engine-room artificers. That was a valuable concession, but he regretted to see that the skilled labourer was not increased in proportion to the unskilled labourer although the amount of responsibility cast upon the former was increasing every year. The horse power in the Navy had increased from 500,000 in l882 to 1,500,000. In other words, the men who formerly had charge of 700 horse-power 729 were now entrusted with 2,000 horsepower, the increase in the number of engineers not being at all adequate to the additional work which was imposed upon them. That was a point deserving of great consideration, because not only was the ordinary power over which the men were put in charge more difficult to manage, but there were now a quantity of machines to look after which did not exist a few years ago. The increase in the number of engineers for the current year was only 35. The increase in the torpedo destroyers would more than absorb that increased number of men. Not only was the Fleet increasing numerically, but there was a large increase going on in the power of ships. Take an old vessel such as the Warrior. That was of 9,000 tons and 4,000 horse-power. Well, the present torpedo-boat destroyer was of similar horse-power. It was clear, therefore, that the strain and work thrown on these engineer officers was largely increased. He was told that in the event of an emergency there were sufficient men in the Reserve. He had searched the Navy Estimates through, and could not quite see how that could be the case. They were, he thought, face to face with the difficulty of having an insufficient number of engineers for the requirements of the Navy. There were 370 on the Active List and 217 in the Reserve, but that 217 were absolutely engaged in keeping many of the ships in the First Reserve in a state of preparation for war, and they could not be removed. There were a few engineers in tenders and on other duties who in the event of war could be used, and there were certain other officers who could be put on active service; but in some of those cases the removal of the officers would cause very considerable dislocation. There was another source—but in the event of an emergency he did not think the Admiralty would be able to put its hand at once on the 181 officers of the force or any large proportion of them, because they would be at sea—and it was a very proper precaution on the part of the Admiralty that these men should be experienced in the management of quick-running steamers. There were those who said that quick - running steamers should be used as armed cruisers in time of war, but they would be the very ships that the Shipping Companies 730 would be inclined to keep at sea. That there was an insufficiency of engineer officers was shown by the fact that optional retirement at 50 years of age was entirely suspended at the present moment. No engineer officer would hesitate to place his services at, the disposal of the Government in the event of war or great emergency. But it was a very different thing when those officers had their retirements taken away; they were losers in every possible way. An engineer officer, if paid properly for his services, was entitled to £400 a year on retiring. If he was kept on against his wish he received £401 10s. a year, and was therefore serving another five years for £l 10s. The £400 was very fairly looked upon as deferred pay. Not only was he placed in that position, but at 55 he was not as likely to obtain employment as at 50. He was also liable to the risks of war during the five years, and his commuted pension was reduced. It was wrong to keep those men serving against their will unless some pecuniary advantage was given them: and if the Admiralty would revise their rates of pay, both present and retiring, they would have the advantage of keeping in the Service the best men and allowing to retire those they did not care to keep. He was pleased to hear that the engineers' accommodation had been increased. There were only two sources from which engineer officers entered—one from outside and the other from Keyham College. From 1889 to the present they had heard that an infinitesimal number of engineer officers had been added to the Navy from outside sources, which could not, therefore, be relied upon as of any value. As to Keyham College, they were faced by the difficulty that only 30 engineer officers had been obtained from it, which only met the absolute waste of the Service. If ships and machinery were increased somehow or other the entries from the outside must be increased also. Five years ought to be required to make an engineer officer, and it used to take six, whereas now a large number were passed out after four years. He sincerely hoped the standard would not be lowered on account of this scarcity, but that rather superior inducements would be held out in order that the best men might be attracted into the Service. 731 The number necessary for care and maintenance was practically reduced to one half of what it ought to be; the Regulations gave a certain proportion, but only half that proportion was at present available. Then came the substitution in the engine-room for complements for ships of the Navy of unskilled labour. He had always urged that this was a stop entirely in the wrong direction. However excellent a stoker might be he could not effect repairs to the machinery by reason of not having served his time to the trade. Stoker-mechanics were only the old stokers under another name, and not mechanics at all in the proper sense.
§ MR. PENN
said, as a matter of fact, those men had all been represented as mechanics, but in point of fact they were not mechanies at all. No doubt they picked up in the course of their work a certain amount of engineering knowledge and skill; but that did not qualify them for the position of engineer or engine-room artificer. The hon. Member for Gateshead had stated the grievances of these officers; and though he was not their mouthpiece, he thought greater consideration should be shown to them. They could not bring political pressure to bear in the matter of votes, and their case had been to a considerable extent neglected. If he could only induce the Admiralty to bring pressure to bear upon the Treasury to improve their position so that our Fleet should not continue undermanned in regard to the skilled men required in the engine-room of our warships, and so that those men who should be attracted into the Service should be induced to enter it, great advantage to the Service would result.
§ * MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
said, during the Debate nobody had entered a protest against the increased expenditure proposed by the Government upon naval armaments, although that increased expenditure was objected to by a large section of the people of this country. In the Naval Debate at the end of last Session the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) said the demand then being pressed on the attention of the House by the Opposition was due to outside pressure. At the time he (Mr. Cremer) ventured 732 to challenge that statement, and was rebuked for daring to do so. In view of that assertion the organisation with which he was connected decided to test the opinions of representative working men upon the subject, not men gathered from the hedge-sides, but officers of various organisations in different parts of the Kingdom. The result of that experiment (which had been sent to the Members of the House) proved that on the part of intelligent working men, occupying responsible positions among the organised workers of the United Kingdom, there was a strong opposition to this proposed increase of expenditure of £3,000,000 upon the Navy. Four hundred and seventy signed the protest against the proposal, while 13 declined to do so, and said they were favourable to increased expenditure because it would give increased employment and be, as they believed, beneficial to the working classes. If he were to read the replies of those 13 individuals the House would see what intelligent specimens of working men they were, and he willingly handed them over to the right hon. Member for Birmingham and the Opposition as evidence of the public opinion they relied upon for proof of outside pressure. He had been told that such an expression of opinion as he had quoted was not of much value or importance. But what evidence had been produced that the country desired this increased naval expenditure or that it was needed? He had carefully watched the mode in which this scare had been manufactured. It began some months ago with articles in certain reviews. The cry was then taken up by Party organs; newspapers began to write about it; and one solitary meeting was held at the Guildhall in support of the proposal. Beyond that one meeting there had not been any expression of opinion from any part of the country in favour of the proposal now before the House. Not a single Petition had been presented to the House in favour of it. [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] If he was wrong he was open to correction; if any evidence existed from outside, either in the shape of meetings or Petitions to the House, that there was any belief in the necessity for building more ships or increasing the expenditure on the Navy, let it be produced. He was not aware of any, although he had 733 carefully noted the list of Petitions on various questions. Did those who were promoting this scare expect that rational people would accept their statements as evidence of public opinion upon the subject? The trap had been very skilfully baited, and as a supporter of the Government he sincerely regretted that they had fallen into it. What would probably happen at the next General Election? Members of the Opposition would go up and down the country and point to the swollen Budget of the Liberal Government as evidence of shameful waste and extravagance. [Mr. FORWOOD: No, no.] Well, judging by what they had done in the past, he concluded that was what they would do in the future, and the Government should have prevented them from having the opportunity. On the one hand, they (the Opposition) pressed for this increased expenditure upon ironclads, pointing to some imaginary danger in some part of the world; while, on the other hand, if the Government had not consented to increased expenditure, Opposition Members would have gone to the country denouncing them as unpatriotic. They were, in fact, between the devil and the deep sea. He again regretted that the Government had fallen into this cunningly-baited trap, and that they had not chosen the lesser evil of the two, and risked being denounced as unpatriotic. Four years ago, when the same question was before the House, and the then Government proposed to increase our Naval Expenditure by £21,000,000, he ventured to move an Amendment, and asked a question which was not then answered. That question he would now repeat—Where was the foe? Who was it that was so anxious to invade our shores? The number of our countrymen who were not in the state of continual alarm in which Members of the House who belonged to the Services seemed to live was growing. Would the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Temple), who kept continually laughing at his (Mr. Cremer's) statements, be kind enough to tell the House which nation wanted to come and invade our shores, for he apparently possessed some exclusive information on the subject not available to people who took a rational and not an alarmist view of the situation. The only answer vouchsafed to him four years ago was that General 734 Boulanger occupied a very important position in France, and that somebody somewhere believed that unless we were very careful this country would be invaded by a French force headed by General Boulanger. He had the temerity on that occasion to ridicule the idea that any danger existed from that quarter, and to predict that the French people would soon sweep away that Pretender. Well, General Boulanger had disappeared, and no danger was likely to arise from our French neighbours. He protested at the time against the increased expenditure of £21,000,000 because the foolish example thus set would be sure to be imitated by other nations, and then in the course of a few years we should be again asked to vote additional supplies for the Navy on the ground that other nations had followed suit and had made their Navies as strong as ours. That prophecy had been fulfilled even sooner than had been anticipated, and to-day it was urged that because Franco had done what every rational man must have known she would do, and, following our example, had built more ships, assigning as her reason for doing so that Great Britain had set the example, and they must do as other nations were doing —because France, Russia, Germany, and Italy had imitated our foolish and wicked example, now, forsooth, the House was asked to again increase the Vote by £3,000,000, and start again in this mad race of naval expenditure. He was sorry he was precluded from dividing the House on this occasion, because if only half-a-dozen Members had gone with him into the Lobby he would have protested by a Division against the proposal. An increase of the Navy would not be a permanent cure for the evil or danger, supposing it to exist, but an aggravation of the disease, because the bad example would be sure to be followed by other Naval Powers—unless they became bankrupt before they could do so; and in four or five years, or even less, another addition to the Naval Expenditure of the country would be demanded on the ground that the other Naval Powers had increased their Navies, and that we must still lead in this mad rivalry of armaments. His proposal was that Her Majesty's Government should take the initiative in inviting other Powers to confer upon the advisability 735 not of increasing, but of reducing, their armaments. He did not know why the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Temple) should be continually laughing at that suggestion. It proved that when gentlemen on the opposite side of the House professed to deplore the existence of armaments and to rejoice at the prospect of an era of peace they were not very sincere in their professions. Sooner or later somebody would take the initiative in the matter, and the Government of this country was in a better position than any other in Europe to do so. As to any danger from France, what had been said by M. Clemenceau and M. Lockroy, who knew the condition of the French Navy at this moment, proved that such apprehensions had no foundation whatever. They were told that if the Government were to invite the Governments of Europe to a Conference of the kind they would not attend. How was it known that they would not respond favourably to such an invitation? They had never been invited. He should like to know from the hon. Baronet (Sir R. Temple), who seemed to imagine he was a great authority upon this matter, what proof he had that, other Governments would not favour an invitation of this kind? He repeated, that they had no right to assume that they would not get a favourable response to such an invitation. Supposing they did not reply favourably, then the world would know who was the real culprit, and who was the stumbling-block. But until we had invited them it was unfair to assume that they would decline the invitation. Some remarkable evidence was recently adduced in the columns of The Times, showing that the French Government, at least, would only be too glad to be invited to a Conference upon the subject. The Paris correspondent of The Times stated that all the leading journalists and politicians he had consulted had declared they would be rejoiced if an opportunity were afforded to them to consider the question of disarmament, although France, owing to its peculiar position, could not take the initiative—but from M. Cannot downwards every man said that France would be delighted to have an opportunity which might lead to a reduction of armaments. He thought, at least, it was the 736 duty of the Government to take the initiative to afford France and the world an opportunity of taking part in a Conference, and it was with a view of giving effect to that opinion that he had put his Motion upon the Paper. The right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Dilke) stated the other night that he believed that every Government in Europe looked with an envious eye on Great Britain. He heard that expression with surprise. Although it might be true so far as Governments were concerned, he denied it so far as the people were concerned. He claimed to have as great and practical acquaintance with the views of some of the peoples of the Continent as the right hon. Baronet had with Continental politicians, and he unhesitatingly averred from the experience he had obtained from attending scores of meetings on the Continent, that there was not the slightest feeling of envy on the part of the people of France, or Germany, or Italy, or the other countries of Europe. It might be that the journalists of France and some politicians had, during the last 12 or 14 months, developed an amount of Chauvinism which was to be deeply regretted, but he was satisfied, from what he had seen in France, Germany, and Italy, that there was not the slightest feeling of envy towards the people of this country. It was true they did not make manifest that feeling at the ballot boxes, for the reason that this issue was never raised at an election on the Continent any more than here. It was generally obscured by a series of other questions, but if they had a clear issue of that nature raised in a distinct form before the people of France, Italy, Germany, and other countries, then it would be seen how strongly they would manifest their desire to live in peace with the people of this and other countries. It might be that at no distant date an opportunity would be found for raising such an issue by a distinct Motion, but in the meantime he asked the Government to weigh well the expression of opinion by the body of representative workmen to which he had referred, a number which could have been multiplied by thousands, who were opposed to this increased expenditure on the Navy. He also asked the Government not only to give heed to such an expression of opinion, but to consider whether, at a time when the nations were groaning 737 under the terrible burden of their armaments, they had not a splendid opportunity of taking the initiative in trying to reduce armaments. The time would come, despite the sneers of the hon. Baronet on the other side of the House, when that step would be taken, and he was sure that whatever Government essayed the task and took the first step it would cover itself with glory and receive the gratitude of the whole people.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT,) Derby
I have so much sympathy with the objects which the hon. Member has in view, and which he has well stated in the speech he has addressed to the House, and I have so much respect for the long and consistent part he has played in the interests of peace, and in bringing on all occasions before this House and this country the unutterable evils of war, that in the few remarks I have to offer he may be certain they will not be animated by a hostile spirit. If the Government of the Queen, I care not to what Party it belongs, saw that it had any possible chance of using an effectual influence to diminish what is the greatest curse of our time, the militarism which is prevailing in Europe, it would be their duty, and it would be their first wish, to use such endeavours. So far I entirely concur with my hon. Friend. He may rest assured that the present Government will always consider that as one of the first objects which they have to place before themselves. But the Government have, I must say to my hon. Friend, more authentic means of information even than the Paris correspondent of The Times with reference to the chances of proposals of that character, and to make such proposals and to have them met with public rejection would be not to advance, but to retard the object my hon. Friend has in view. There are some things that the hon. Member has said with which I entirely concur. I hear with great regret public declarations by responsible persons that foreign nations are our enemies. I do not believe that there is any foundation for that statement. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean has said that we are the least popular of the Powers of Europe. Well, I do not know which is the least popular Power in Europe at this moment. 738 Every Power seems to be arming to the teeth, and I suppose that these Powers armed to the teeth do not regard themselves as popular Powers. There are vast military ambitions abroad, ambitions which it is difficult to comprehend or to appreciate among nations which have Empires one would have supposed would have satiated any ambition. We have no power, unfortunately, to mitigate ambitions or to deal with the consequences which arise from them. I naturally avoid mentioning the name of any particular Power. If it were true that any particular Power were the enemy of England, I do not think it would be politic to speak of it and to dwell upon the envies or the hostilities of particular Powers; certainly I do not think it is a wise thing to do so in the House of Commons or elsewhere. There is another thing in which I concur with my hon. Friend, and that is the ambitions are greatly more the acts of the Governments than the people. I believe that what he said is true, that the great mass of the people of this country do believe what the late Lord Derby truly stated in speaking of the interests of England, that the greatest of all British interests is peace. I believe there prevails throughout this country, and I hope through the mass of the people of other countries, the feeling that there is no greater curse that can afflict mankind than war; and next to that the greatest of all curses are the burdens placed, not pecuniarily only but personally, upon those who are constantly contemplating, anticipating, and preparing for war. I believe that is the necessary consequence of the state of things which, unfortunately perhaps, prevails in Europe at this time more than any other. I also agree with my hon. Friend that great demonstrations of shipbuilding or of armaments of any description are enormous evils, that they set a bad example, which is sure to be followed; and therefore if it were properly charged against, the Government of this country that they were setting such an example, I should agree in my hon. Friend's condemnation of such a policy. In my opinion, however, the Navy of this country, and indeed the Navies of all countries, is principally and before all things not an aggressive but a defensive force. The aggressive forces are the great Armies. 739 The Navies have ceased to be in a great degree, and have lost in a great degree, their aggressive power as compared with what they possessed in former days. I cannot go into particulars of the consequences of the Declaration of Paris, but it secured the trade of various countries from attack under the shelter of a neutral flag. There is another thing not sufficiently observed—a blockade which in old days was a very effective aggressive force has very much lost its power in consequence of the facility of internal communication. I refer to these things in order to point out that the Navy is in essence a defensive and not an aggressive force. I will not yield to my hon. Friend in my abhorrence of war in all its shapes, nor in my deprecation of those armaments in anticipation of war, but I have always been a strong advocate of the supremacy of the British Navy. That is a view I stated the other day, and I also stated that Her Majesty's Government were prepared to make such proposals as would secure in future that the Navy should remain and continue to be supreme. I will state one of the great reasons why, in my opinion, the supremacy of the British Navy is a great element in the preservation of peace for this country. The great fear and danger of this country are that we should find ourselves in a position in which, from a want of sense of security and strength, we should involve ourselves in the complications of Europe and the great military Powers. If this country felt that it was not independent, that it was not strong, that it could not stand alone, it might be forced into European combinations or complications from which it would be most desirable to stand aside. I have always regarded the great model, the great example for all civilised countries to be the policy of the United States, established by George Washington 100 years ago. That was a policy of peace, a policy of abstention from complications with other countries. What was the security for that policy? It was the Atlantic that rolled between America and Europe. If you have a superior Navy you may have as great a guarantee of your own neutrality as the Atlantic affords to the United States. I desire that the Navy should be strong in order that we may be neutral, and not be called 740 upon to combine in matters in which we have no interest at all, simply for want of strength to support our own independence. Happily, from our situation of not being bordered, as other foreign nations are, by great Armies on their frontier, we may, in a superior Navy, have that security, and take that course of action which, I believe, is the first interest of Great Britain. If that is so, you must satisfy public opinion on that subject, even if the apprehensions of the public mind seem to you to be unreasonable. If you are to have that security, of which I have spoken, in this country, you must have that guarantee which will satisfy the public sentiment, even if it goes beyond the convictions of my hon. Friend. It is perfectly plain that, if you have a nation which is alarmed with reference to the guarantee of its own security, you will have a nation in a condition in which it is likely to be forced into measures which it might be inexpedient otherwise to adopt. Though we are now supreme, by taking no further steps we might cease to be so in the future; and I say you must reassure the people of the country on that point and allow no room, even if you choose to call it so, for panic or scare. Therefore, you must give public confidence in this, that England can maintain her own interests, and that we have no object, no intention to attack the interests of others, or to meddle in interests with which she has no concern—both of the highest importance in the policy of this country. In my opinion, those are the considerations which demand the superiority of the British Navy. The British Navy is the great guarantee of that security, of that policy which is the policy of the Government, and which I hope will be the policy of all Governments—namely, that England shall be able to rely on the force of the Navy in order to defend her shores and her Empire, and that it should be dealt with and placed on a footing so far from giving umbrage to other nations as to make it clearly understood that it is not intended for the purposes of aggression, but solely for the purposes of defence.
§ * SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
said, he desired to say a few words on the relations of the Navy and the Mercantile Marine, and also to reply to one of the observations of the hon. Member for 741 Haggerston, who asked what was the feeling of the trading community on this subject. He could say that the London and Associated Chambers of Commerce took such carein the collection of information and statistics that what the Government had determined to do verified the statements these Chambers made and the ground upon which they had commenced action. The hon. Member asked, who was going to invade? That was a question no one could answer; but those who had charge of the commerce of the country felt there must be no risk of invasion or attack from any quarter. The very life of commerce was not only security, but the sense of security. And yet the commercial community was as strongly in favour of peace as any portion of the English public. The hon. Member had spoken of the hypocrisy of some on this side of the House who declared for peace and against armaments. He (Sir A. Roll it) was one of those who supported the hon. Member's Resolution in favour of arbitration with the United States, and if they wanted a modern illustration of the principle he should point to the peaceable partition of Africa under Lord Salisbury. They hoped, for the sake of commerce, for permanent peace, but, on the other hand, there were times when the force of right might have to be asserted by the right of force, and it was with that object only that it was desired that the forces of this country should be in such a state as would secure those cuds which had been so eloquently spoken of by the Leader of the House of Commons. He wished to speak also on the question of the resources of the Mercantile Marine for the manning of the Navy. The observation that while they talked of ships they must not forget the men was much to the point, and he desired to add that they must have the best of both. He was glad to see that the Government intended to add 6,700 men to the Navy. The figure suggested by the London Chamber of Commerce was 10,000, and he had seen arguments in favour of so high a figure as 30,000. He acknowledged gratefully the fulfilment of the promises made by the Government, and what he wanted to emphasize, with approval, was that the Government were going to draw men at once from the Mercantile Marino. Supposing the last moment were waited for, and, still more, if war were waited 742 for, even if the men were forthcoming, there would be a great disorganisation of the Commercial Marine, and a depletion of the Service when all its resources might be required for the supply of food and raw material. But in the event of war he would ask—and that was the serious question he put to the Secretary to the Admiralty—would they be able to get from the reserves of the Mercantile Marine any men beyond the number of the reserve itself? They would have to supply the gaps in the forces which war would create, and it must not be supposed that even the 235,000 men who formed our Mercantile Marine were an illimitable resource. The Royal Naval Reserve consisted of some 22,000; 11,000 in the first and 11,000 in the second class. With regard to the first class, it must be borne in mind that they were chiefly on foreign service and engaged on long voyages. They were all A.B.'s and good men, but there would be a considerable delay before that great source of strength could be completely utilised. What, if they picked out these A.B.'s, would be the position of the Mercantile Marine itself? And, as to the second class, the only observation to be made upon them was that they had only to take 16 drills in five years, and that consequently they could scarcely be said to be qualified to at once take their places on board vessels of war, and be expected to be familiar with the various demands that would be made upon them in a modern battleship or cruiser. He thought if more interest was taken in the Royal Naval Reserve they might be made a greater resource. How little was the interest taken in our fishermen, who were the backbone of the second class. The other day a Scotch Fisheries Bill was dropped as a matter of little concern. A Committee of the House had sat with regard to the question of English fisheries, but there was no promise or even a hint at legislation. Things were very different in France, where there was a reserve of 100.000 men, a large number of whom were fishermen, and all of whom had served in the Fleet. Hence the interest of France in her Newfoundland fisheries, from Utrecht onwards. He took the figures of the Mercantile Marine as 235,000. Of these 80,000 were A.B.'s, 743 and from these they must deduct 27,000 who were foreigners, and who, in the event of hostilities, would be liable to serve in their own Navy. He desired to say that most of them were men of high character and chiefly old seamen to a great extent of Scandinavian birth. With all deductions thus made for foreigners and men with less than four years' service afloat, the real reserve was reduced to the number of the Royal Naval Reserve itself, half of whom would be on distant voyages while the remainder would be destitute of the necessary skill. He was sorry he could not compliment the Government on carrying out the suggestion made by the Chamber of Shipping that four years' service should be the least qualification for an A.B., instead of adhering to the meaningless regulation that a man should not be voted entitled to be rated as A.B. without four years' service. He would urge again the immediate increase of the Reserve, or the time would come when, although having these great warships, we should not be able to man them; and the Navy itself must train up men for its own Service. He thought the conditions of our training ships needed more attention. He had been glad to receive an assurance from the Secretary to the Admiralty that the health of the Impregnable had improved. He hoped, too, more attention would be given to the training of the boys. The Navy offered a great career. It gave excellent education and there was admirable discipline, and all they had to do was to increase the inducements to enter it. He had another word to say in reference to our guns. In the Navy 53 per cent. were, according to the London Chamber, muzzle-loaders, while every other nation had weapons of an improved type. We were in want of 355 guns, and there was a promise that they should be rapidly supplied. He desired, however, to draw attention to the increasing retrocession in reference to the output of guns. The figures were —1890–1, 147; 1891–2,71; 1892–3,31; and 1893–4, 20. If the people did their duty, both as taxpayers and as members of our forces, to the State, the State must also do its duty to them, by seeing that the most recent and valuable results of both science and artizan skill were placed at their disposal; and bear- 744 ing in mind that this was the age in which the best weapons won, the State must take care that our forces were armed with the best that could be got. He noticed in the Estimates an item of some thousands for photographing the stars at Greenwich and the Cape. This was excellent. Nothing had been more fertile in interest or was likely to be in utility than cosmic photography, but this work was not very cognate to the Navy and should be separated, both in cost and performance. Another singularity was the Estimate for signalling services, or, rather, an incident connected with it. This also referred to the Heavens; since one Sunday on Dover Pier he had asked the officer in charge to allow him to look through his glass for a moment—a glass he had just used. The reply was, it was coutrary to Regulations to let anyone look through it on a Sunday. Was there, could there be, such an absurd Admiralty Regulation? He had only to say, in conclusion, that some few weeks ago, when this question was raised (with great consideration and from no desire to create a scare, but the contrary—to prevent the possibility of one) the Chambers of Commerce received from the First Lord of the Admiralty assurances which, so far as he was able to judge, were now going to find fulfilment. He regarded this increase of armaments, however much it was to be regretted, as absolutely necessary. So long as the very life of commerce was the possibility of defending it, we must continue to keep our forces in a high state of efficiency, and he was glad that the Government, realising what he believed to be the general bent of public opinion, had decided that our commerce and our food and other supplies and the livings of our workpeople should not be jeopardised by any reasonable want of security.
§ MR. FORWOOD (Liverpool)
There is no one in the House who would not cordially echo all the Chancellor of the Exchequer said as to the desire for the preservation of peace; and one of the best means for the preservation of peace is the maintenance by this country to which peace is all-important and all-vital, of a Navy adequate and sufficient for the protection of its interests. The question of the adequate strength of the Navy 745 has been considered, I think, from too narrow a point of view. From the statement he made last December the Chancellor of the Exchequer compared the Navy of this country with the Navies of two other countries from the point of view of mere numerical superiority. But we have larger and greater interests to preserve and conserve than any other nation, and we ought to have regard not merely to the question of whether we have in point of numbers, or are providing in point of numbers, a sufficiency of vessels as compared with two other nations, but whether the number we are providing are sufficient to perform all the duties they will be called upon to perform. In 1888 the late Board of Admiralty took the question up from what, I think, was the most practical point of view. It invited the most competent of its responsible naval advisers to say what they considered should be the Naval force required by this country, if, unaided, she was to be placed in the position of being able to meet, without any doubt of success, a combination of two other great Naval Powers, having regard to their existing Fleets and the building programmes of those two nations. The reply to the invitation was the Naval Defence Act, with the reservation of the officers who made the recommendation that the building policy of other nations should be closely scrutinised, and by which the future action of this country in regard to building other vessels ought to be guided. I want to compare the position of our Navy in 1888 with the position of the Navies of France and Russia in the same year, and what its relative position would be to-day. A very interesting Return has recently been presented by the Admiralty, classifying the ships as on the 1st of January of the present year. The force deemed necessary for Great Britain, with the ships added under the Naval Defence Act, was 20 first-class battleships as against 15 possessed by France and Russia, 12 second-class battleships as against 12 possessed by these two Powers, and 11 third-class battleships as against six which France and Russia had. As regards first-class cruisers, it was deemed right, for the protection of their trade and commerce, that whilst France and Russia had 15, Great Britain ought to possess 29; and that while those two Powers possessed 13 second-class cruisers, Great Britain ought to have 44. In 746 effect, it was deemed necessary that Great Britain should have a superiority of five first-class battleships, five third-class battleships, 14 first-class cruisers, and 31 second-class cruisers. I will assume that the vessels now proposed to be laid down are completed, and that the vessels stated in the Return to be constructing by France and Russia are also completed, and then it will be shown that we possess 29 first-class battleships, against 28 by Franco and Russia, 12 second-class battleships against 21, 31 first - class cruisers against 25, and 53 second-class cruisers as against 27; so that, assuming this programme completed, we shall still be short in our naval force, as considered necessary by the responsible men connected with the Admiralty, by four first-class battleships, nine second-class battleships, eight first-class cruisers, and five second-class cruisers. I am perfectly aware that, in the First Lord's statement, we are promised that this is but part of a programme, and that, in a subsequent year, it is to be further developed, and also that it is undesirable to make plain to the world what our policy is in the following year, for fear that others might take advantage of it, and go ahead. I traverse that entirely; I do not believe in programmes of promises. We want something more than promises. But, even if these promises are to be fulfilled, I think it will be seen, from the figures I have given that if we are to keep up our Fleet to the position deemed necessary, these promises ought to be fulfilled at a much earlier date than in the next two, three, or four years. So much for our comparative position. I will now inquire what progress we are going to make in the work. Taking last year, we voted £557,000 for large vessels which were in course of construction, and yet we find progress only made to the extent of £334,000. I find that seven battleships, excluding the armaments, are to cost £8,500,000 sterling. Yet, to advance that large programme, provision only appears to have been made for £1,335,000. The result of that action is that, next year, instead of providing £1,335,000, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whoever he may be, will have to provide for an expense of £3,500,000. It is one thing to draw up a programme, but another thing to make proper pro- 747 vision for it. If this promised programme is to be continued next year, the £1,250,000 which will be saved on the construction of torpedo-boats will be more than required for the extension of the programme necessary to get the Fleet to that position which is deemed necessary for the protection of the country. Therefore, it is perfectly obvious that we are now beginning a large programme with a comparatively small sum of money provided for it, and that next year the Estimates as regards shipbuilding must be increased by £2,000,000 or £2,500,000. I should not grudge that increase, or any increase that is necessary to strengthen the Navy; but I think that when Estimates for a large programme are put forward it is right to examine these Estimates closely, and see whether the provision for carrying it out is properly distributed over the year, or whether it is likely to increase burdens as years go on. The same applies to naval armaments. We have in the Estimates to lay down a Fleet which, when completed, will cost £15,500,000. The armaments and reserve ammunition for that Fleet will cost £3,800,000, and yet the Estimates voted this year for these large requirements are only £1,300,000, of which £500,000 is required for the normal services of the year, leaving £800,000 towards equipping the armaments and ordnance stores for this large fleet of vessels. On both these matters it is clear that, so far as provision in the Estimates is concerned, the amount taken is small, and we have to trust largely to the future and to promises. There is another matter in regard to which I am satisfied the Admiralty are going to find themselves in a serious difficulty. They have decried the Naval Defence Act of the late Government, and have endeavoured and have succeeded in persuading the House to decline to bind themselves to a programme by Act of Parliament; but there is one difficulty that the Government are going to encounter which was obviated by the Naval Defence Act, and that is the difficulty of estimating the amount of money that will become due next year to contractors. The dockyards are pretty well able to estimate the amount required in their own departments; but there are so many chapters of accidents in contractors' yards that it is impossible to arrive at a very close 748 figure as that which contractors will earn. In the course of the Naval Defence Act the Estimates of the naval experts were wrong to the extent of as much as £1,000,000. In the coming year the Contract Vote amounts to £2,920,000, and what would happen by reason of the repudiation of a system like that of the Naval Defence Act? The contractors might be largely behindhand with their work; and if they are behindhand to the ex tent of £500,000, that amount will have to be surrendered to the Treasury, and will become a charge on the taxpayers of the country for the same purpose in the following year, with the result that the whole of the national finances will be thrown out by that amount. I do not think the right hon. Baronet in charge of the Admiralty would find it possible, if he had any large amount of the contract money unearned, to do otherwise than return it to the Treasury, and every sixpence so returned has to be provided by the House in the following year. I sympathise with the Admiralty in wishing to make use of unexpended money upon stores and not being anxious to pay it back to the Treasury; but the Secretary to the Admiralty has complained of the conduct of the late Government and myself in doing the same thing. With an increase in building a reduction on gun estimates and projectiles necessarily implies an increase in future years. There are several other points which I should have wished to dilate upon had time permitted; but I can now only summarise them. The type of vessels of the Resolution class exhibit a considerable increase in length over ironclads previously built. I think we get that class of vessels made as long as is reasonably possible, having regard to the weight of their armour and to the armoured citadel which they have to carry. I congratulate the Admiralty on the greater length, by 10 feet, that has been decided upon, for I have had every confidence in the stability of great length. I assure the House, however, that when the designs of these vessels were considered, the extreme length was given having regard to the work the ships have to do, the weights they have to carry, and the distribution of their cargo. With reference to the Victoria, that vessel, I believe, was laid down in 1885 or 1886. The present Naval Constructor was not in any way responsible for the design. 749 Any imperfections in that vessel as to sub-division fore and aft have not been followed in the vessels that have since been designed. In regard to the Resolution, I believe that she is satisfactory, and that there is no danger. I believe, moreover, that she returned owing to a misconception on the part of her commanding officer. It has been stated that the vessel returned for coal; but she had plenty on board. The origin of the trouble arose from the vessel going to sea in the winter, and being exposed to a heavy gale in the Bay of Biscay, without the necessary steps having been taken by her officers to batten down the hatches and cover up the ventilators, through which the water found its way below. There are other matters that I should have liked to have dealt with, but I understand we are to have an opportunity after Easter of dealing more at length with the Navy Estimates. As a full and free discussion is promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I postpone whatever other observations I desire to make.
THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Sir U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH,) Lancashire, Clitheroe
appealed to the House to allow the Deputy Speaker now to leave the Chair, and said he would reserve the remarks he had to make in reply to the various points raised in the course of the Debate until they were in Committee on the Votes. Gentlemen who were anxious to speak would be able to do so on Vote A and Vote 1.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)
said, he would give way to his hon. Friend's appeal. he wished to say, however, that he did not agree with the Jingo speech just delivered, and on another Vote he should take an opportunity of objecting to wasteful expenditure on the Army and Navy.
§ Question, "That Mr. Deputy Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ SUPPLY,—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)