HC Deb 20 July 1897 vol 51 cc629-38
Works. Total Estimated Cost. 1897. Expected Date of Completion. Estimated Expenditure to 31st March 1897. Estimated Expenditure for the year 1897-98.
1 2. 3. 4. 5.
(a.) Enclosure and Defence of Harbours— £ £ £ £
Gibraltar 1,026,000* 1899–1900 344,072 320,000
Gibraltar, Commercial Mole 669,000† 1900–1 150,000
Portland 650,000‡ 1900–1 173,340 200,000
Dover(including £35,000 for Fixed Machinery) 3,500,000 1907–8 3,485 200,000
(b.) Adapting Naval Ports to present Needs of Fleet —
Deepening harbours and approaches 960,000§ 1899–1900 518,559 200,000
Keyham Dockyard Extension (including £175,000 for Fixed Machinery) 3,175,000 1903–4 88,204 450,000
Portsmouth Docks 375,000 1897–8 369,096 5,904
Gibraltar Dockyard Extension (including £63,000 for Fixed Machinery 2,674,000 1899–1900 123,597 250,000
Hong Kong Dockyard Extension (including £40,000 for Fixed Machinery) 575,500 1903–4 3,000 100,000
Colombo Dock 159,000 1902–3 15,000
**Pembroke Jetty, &c., (including £20,000 for Fixed Machinery) 110,000 1899–1900 200 30,000
**Portsmouth-Widening caisson 60,000 1898–9 30,000
**Haulbowline Improvements (including £14,500 for Fixed Machinery) 64,500 1899–1900 8,294 15,000
(c.) Naval Barracks, &c.—
Chatham Naval Barracks 390,000 1900–1 7,741 150,000
Sheerness Naval Barracks (including £20,000 for Fixed Machinery) 220,000 1900–1 75,650
Portsmouth Naval Barracks 595,000 1909–1 100,000
Keyham Naval Barracks 160,000 1900–1 500,000
Chatham Naval Hospital 341,000 1900–1 26,200 50,000
Walmer Marine Depot 20,000 1897–8 17,654 2,346
keyham Engineers' College 30,000 1897–8 15,961 14,000
Dartmouth College for Naval Cadets 196,000 1899–1900 100,000
Magazines (including £25,000 for Fixed Machinery) 485,000 1899–1990 14,000 150,000
Haslar Zymotic Hospital (including £500 for Fixed Machinery 68,500 1899–1900 10,000
Haulbowline Zymotic Hospital (including £25,000 for Fixed Machinery) 10,500 1898–9 5,000
(d.) Superintendence and Miscellaneous Charges 790,000 47,458 70,000
£ 17,304,000 1,760,861 2,742,900
* Estimate reduced by £48,000 for Dolphins replaced by Commercial Mole.
† The total estimated cost of the Commercial Mole is £700,000, including £31,000 for superintendence under item (d).Four-sevenths of this sum is to be repaid by the colony of Gibraltar in the form of an annuity of £14,000 per annum for 57 years from the opening of the Mole, to be credited as an appropriation in aid of Navy Vote 10.
‡ An expenditure of £40,543 was incurred during 1893–4 and 1894–5 in erecting dolphins on the line of the breakwater, and was charged to Vote 10 in those years. This is in addition to the Estimate of £650,000.
§ Exclusive of the cost, of dredging plant purchased prior to 31st March 1895.
**Transferred from Navy Vote 10 for 1896–97.
£ £
║ Total estimated expenditure to 31st March 1898 4,503,761
Amount already provided, viz:—
Expenditure out of Navy Votes (8 and 10) prior to inclusion of works in Loan Acts 239,761 3,849,761
Provision in Act of 1895, £1,000,000, less £140,000 lapsed 860,000
Provision in Act of 1896 2,750,000
Amount to be provided by this Act £654,000

proposed after column 4, to insert new column 4a—


Estimated Expenditure from 1st April 189G to 31st March 1897.

The column which he proposed to insert appeared in the Schedule of last year's Bill. Last year a distinct and positive statement of the amount of the estimated expenditure during the preceding financial year, and the column was inserted in compliance with the promises and pledges made by both parties. The column did not appear in the present Bill, and all he proposed to do was to insert the column so that each year the House should have before it a distinct statement, not of the progress made with the works as a whole up to date, but of the progress made during the past twelve months.


said it was not the desire of the Admiralty to conceal from the House of Commons the amount of progress made or the amount of money which had actually been expended. It was only because it was thought this column was unnecessary that it was omitted from this Bill. He hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion, but he would be happy to give the hon. Gentleman the figures he required in the shape of a Parliamentary return.


did not think the hon. Gentleman's proposal was at all sufficient. A separate Parliamentary Paper might never come to the notice of a single Member of the House, and what was wanted was a statement on the face of the Bill each year which would put the House in possession of the necessary knowledge every time it was asked to renew this grant.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


moved to omit the item as to Dover Harbour, complaining that the sum set apart for that harbour was excessive. Here they were going to give 31 millions out of 17 millions to one harbour on the southern coast of England, which was amply provided for; while a miserable £60,000 was to be allotted to Haulbowline. He had never heard from the Admiralty any justification for this expenditure. Why should Dover have this 3½ millions, while Haul-bowline had only £60,000? He thought that it was an enormous waste of money. The English harbours on the southern coast, for the Fleet, were far superior to those on the opposite coast of France. What share was Ireland going to have in this expenditure of 17 millions! It was a monstrous thing that only £60,000 of the £17,000,000 proposed to be spent, was to be expended in Ireland. He did not claim the construction of large unnecessary harbours on the coast of Ireland for the accommodation of the British Fleet, althomdh he believed that from a material point of view such an expenditure might be very useful; but he did claim that a fair amount of this money, which would he about £2,000,000, should be spent in some useful purpose in Ireland. If the opinion of the Admiralty was that Ireland had become so poor a country that. it was not worth while to spend money on defensive harbours, then the harbours were urgently needed for fishery purposes. The only way in which he, as a private Member, could emphasise his desire that a fair suns should be spent in Ireland was by trying to set free a portion of the money proposed to be taken by this Bill, and with that view he proposed the omission of this amount.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN, St. George's, Hanover Square)

said the hon. Member objected to the expenditure on Dover because it was English, and because Ireland would receive no advantage from it. The same fallacy underlay both arguments of the hon. Gentleman. This expenditure was not proposed because it would benefit a particular English town. It was proposed because Dover was, in the opinion of the highest authorities, who advised the Admiralty on such subjects, the best strategic position for the British Navy; and in that way the expenditure was for the benefit of the United Kingdom and for Ireland as well as for England. He objected to the phrase, "English expenditure." It was British expenditure for British purposes and for the whole of the United Kingdom. ["Hear, hear!"]


said that as a Scotch Member, he regretted to see that not a farthing was to be spent in Scotland, vet Scotland was absolutely unprotected. For his !tart he \\amid rather see the money proposed to be spent on Dover devoted to the building, of four first-class warships.


said that he predicted last year that the Vote for the Dover Works which was then asked for would be doubled; and it had nearly been doubled this year. This was a very old question. After the work had been begun by convict labour, the technical advisers of the Admiralty advised then; to drop it. Now, by the advice of the technical advisers, the work was to be begun again. A dock at Cork Harbour would be of great use, but at Dover there were no natural conditions which would make the work valuable. Anything which was done would be at great cost, and would not be as useful as if it were done at other places near where the cost would be less. There was no general traffic at Dover, and the dock could only be for naval purposes. Not a single argument had been urged in favour of this expenditure.


The House assented to the principle when it was proposed by the late Government.


said that the late Government were worse than the present Government in that respect. However, as both Governments were in favour of this policy, they, the small minority, could only express their strong disapprobation.


thought Members could only come to one conclusion with regard to this Bill, and that was that it was intended as a threat to France. The Haul-bowline money would not have been given to Ireland were it not that this country was afraid of America. A policy of funk had inspired all these items. He wanted some definite assurance as to the amount of money that would really he spent under this Bill. A great deal of money had been recklessly spent in previous years, and instead of being afraid of foreign countries, and being satisfied with the large harbours at present existing from Falmouth to Sheerness, we went out of our way to provoke France by creating these works. The whole thing was infected by a policy of funk. The Government should not be afraid. Let them do what was just, right, and honest ill the sight of God and man.

MR. W. ALLAN (Gateshead)

held a different opinion from that of the advisers of the Admiralty on the subject of harbours. If they had large, heavy iron-clads, armed with heavy guns, there must be harbours and docks. To bring vessels from the Irish Sea up to Plymouth was, in his judgment, a fatal policy. He would now take the right lion. Gentleman to task about the harbour at Dover. The right hon. Gentleman had stated by whom he was advised, but he did not say who had made up the Estimate. A very good firm, Messrs. Coode, Son, and Matthews, had completed the survey and plans, but who hail made the Estimates? He wanted to look at the Bill from an engineering point of view, and he wanted the First Lord of the Admiralty to tell him this. The memorandum at the back of the Bill said,— Complete survey and plans have now been prepared by Messrs. Coode, Son, and Matthews, and concurred in by the Civil Engineer-in-Chief of the Admiralty"; but what he wanted to know was who had 'wide out the Estimate of £3,500,000?


In the first instance, the Estimates were made by the surveyors; they were then checked item by item by the Civil Engineer: and they were then examined by the Admiralty itself. The Admiralty is, of course, responsible for the Estimates. Every single item has been gone into, quantities taken out, and Estimates made for so much work; in fact, everything has been done that is usually done in the case of every work undertaken by the Admiralty, and we are responsible for this, as we are responsible for every other big work in our Department. This is not an Estimate put down is the original two millions was put down—taken from a narrow survey. This is the result of actual hard work, taken year after year, conducted by the best surveyors we could find, checked by the best engineering ability, and examined by the whole light of the experience we have at our command. ["Hear, hear!"]


said he was glad to hear the explanation, and to learn from it that the Admiralty took the whole responsibility for these Estimates. His experience, extending over some years, was that the Civil Engineer was called in to make out his plans, take out his quantities, and make up his estimate, but now the Board had not asked for that, but the Admiralty had taken the responsibility.


The hon. Gentleman does not understand me. That has been done. As I said, the surveyors made out the Estimate in the first instance; they took out the quantities; their calculation was checked by the Civil Engineer, and the Admiralty, of course, take the responsibility of their work. The thing has been done in the same manner in which all these works have been done.


was glad to hear that, and he would tell the right hon. Gentleman that, instead of £3,500,000, a great deal more would be wanted. These Estimates were always under the mark. Another point the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers had omitted. It was no laughing matter, but a very serious one. The right hon. Gentleman said that he was going to have 610 acres at low water. Let him tell the right hon. Gentleman that the moment he had made this harbour at Dover it would fill up again. The set of the tides around the North Foreland was such that the harbour was bound to silt up, and they would have to be continually dredging it to get a sufficient draught of water. Let the right hon. Gentleman ask his advisers whether they had taken that into consideration? He did not wish to see the right hon. Member become the father of a big botched job. The right hon. Member in matters of this kind ought to be more national. It was not a question of threatening France or America, but of where we were to put our ships if they happened to be damaged. The right hon. Gentleman's advisers apparently overlooked the fact that there might be battles in the North Sea. What did his advisers know about the matter? They had never been in action with an ironclad navy. They were more accustomed to wooden ships, and they had been wrapped up in canvas. They knew little or nothing about steam. They had never been in war, and did not understand how ships could be damaged by shell fire. If they did they would certainly advocate the construction of harbours for repairs on the coasts of Scotland and Ireland. He recommended the right hon. Gentleman not to listen to his advisers at all, but to come to that House with a big, bread harbour scheme, saying it was necessary for the preservation of the Empire.


, who observed that the Leaders of the Opposition had apparently all gone home to roost—[Laughter]—thought that this was a very proper policy, and that the construction of a harbour at Dover was very necessary.


asked whether the sum asked for would complete the works at Dover? He was verb- pleased that the Amendment had been Alloyed. They were not there to fool away their time—[cries of "Divide!"]. They on that side had not spent their time in dining outside the House and coining back to obstruct useful discussion, and he hoped hon. Gentlemen opposite would not interrupt. Was it the intention of the Admiralty to finish the Haulbowline Docks with the amount of money estimated?


said that question did not arise.


said the expenditure on the Dover works was wasteful. The money would be better spent on improving existing docks and harbours. at present protected. This harbour was not protected, and would cost three times the amount of money estimated to make it a. temporary harbour. The money proposed to be spent on a temporary harbour should be spent on a permanent harbour. He hoped the hon. Member would press his Motion to a division.

Question put.

The Committee divided: —Ayes, 121; Noes, 19.—(Division List, No. 316.)


supposed that Dover Harbour was suggested out of fear of France; an Irish harbour out of dread of America; and this Chinese harbour from jealousy of Russia. Probably in a few days the Continental press would show how thoroughly foreign nations enjoyed the situation, seeing the country taking immense precautions cast and west against the retributive justice that must follow the aggressive policy England had so long pursued.


took advantage of this opportunity to protest against the exclusion of South Africa from the Bill.


explained that surveys at Simon's Bay had been ordered and were in course of being carried out. As these surveys had not been completed it was not found possible to insert provisions for contemplated works in the present Bill.


said he had been informed that it was the case that some surveys were in progress at Cape Town, but he thought it right to put the ease of South Africa a little more prominently before the Committee, for it was a matter of very great importance. It was the more aggravating just now when the Premier of cape Colony had promised the gift of a first-class ironclad to the British Navy. There was not between the Cape and Australia a graving dock that could accommodate a first-class battleship. The statement of the First Lord was that surveys were being made at Simon's Bay, but he wished to point out that surveys had already been made at Canetovm which would sufficiently answer all that was necessary for getting out the Estimates for a graving dock at Capetown. They were practically in this position, that in case of war not one single one of the mercantile steamers that might be engaged in the transport of troops from one part of the Empire to the other could dry-dock south of the Line. He regretted that in thinking of the various interests of the Navy in time of war a matter of such great importance as this had been entirely overlooked. It was true that they were doing something now, but he thought greater speed might be used in building this graving dock than appeared likely to be the case from the statement of the First Lord.

Schedule agreed to, Bill reported without Amendment; to be read the Third time upon Thursday.