§ SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
rose to call attention to the training and organisation of the Navy in relation to the use and application of Marine forces, and to move:—That it is desirable to place such Royal Marine forces (artillery and infantry) at the naval bases and defended coaling ports abroad as are required for the general service of the naval stations, thereby relieving a corresponding number of Royal Artillery and Line now quartered at those places.He said this seemed a very simple Resolution, but it really raised the whole question of the principles of Imperial defence. The subject might be approached from three points of view—that of general policy, that of naval necessity, and that of military expediency. The general policy was founded, and must be founded, upon the freedom of their Fleet, the security of their bases, and the mobility of their Army. The Motion distinctly dealt with naval bases, and the present position was that the Admiralty washed its hands of all responsibility with regard to the defence of the bases of the Fleet. [Cries of "No!"] He should be very glad if it could be shown that that was not the present policy. He thought the First Lord would agree with him in this proposition—that the defence of naval bases must be independent of the direct defence by the sea-going fleets or squadrons. That being agreed, they came to the question of the local defence of these bases, which was entirely treated now as a purely military question. Upon this point he would advance another proposition which he thought his right hon. Friend would not deny—namely, that whereas formerly, and even until recently, the defence of a port or maritime position might be considered a purely military matter, now every day and every hour, the development of naval warfare was making the defence more and more aquatic. His right hon. Friend did not deny that.
§ SIR J. COLOMB
said in that case he would read what the present Secretary of State for India said when he was First Lord of the Admiralty. Speaking 124 in that House on the 2nd of March 1891, as head of the Admiralty, he said—As science develops and the range of guns increased the passive defence of the stations becomes more and more an aquatic defence.Therefore, at all events, he had the authority of a former First Lord that his proposition was right. The days were gone by, under modern conditions of warfare, when fleets attempted to attack forts. The torpedo and the insidious night attacks of small craft of the torpedo class necessitated the defence of ports being more and more aquatic than it ever was before. That being so it was quite evident that they could not ignore naval considerations in the defence of ports. The utility and value of the port was for them the security of free ingress and egress for their ships, and although the defence of the port must not and ought not directly to depend on the operations of the sea-going fleet, they could not adequately or really defend the port in its true sense unless they kept the offing clear. The defence of a naval base involved not merely the defence of the mouth of the port, for in order to preserve the utility of the port, naval means were required to keep as large an area as possible round that port clear. What was the value of a coaling station if only the local defence of the port was provided for, and a hostile force in the offing out of the range of your guns was capturing your colliers preventing coal supplies coming into port? Without labouring the point, it could not be denied that the defence of a port in its local interests was becoming more and more aquatic, and you could not get rid of naval responsibility for keeping the offing clear. The effect of this was apparent in the Army Estimates, they were becoming more and more aquatic in character. This involved duplex arrangements and all the inconveniences of dual control and dual administration. What was the object and reason for having these ports defended on naval stations? That the Fleet might find there supplies necessary for its maintenance? And who was responsible for getting the supplies there? The Fleet. It was a naval responsibility, and yet it was treated as a military question, in which the War Office was concerned. For the oversea supplies 125 of the garrisons from home the Navy was responsible, and yet the cost was borne on the Army Estimates. Look at the effect of this policy under the head of military expediency. He would not go into it at length, for that would be irregular, but to show the effect he took the great ocean area called the North American and West Indies Station. The Admiralty rightly said that in this great area of the Atlantic the bases at Bermuda, Halifax, St. Lucia, and Jamaica must be protected, and what was the consequence of looking at this as a military question? There was one battalion at Bermuda, and, owing to naval necessities, this was separated into two parts, thirteen miles apart. It was best explained by following a battalion inn its tour of service round the station. It was moved to Halifax and then separated nine miles apart. It then proceeded from Halifax to the West Indies and when it got there it was again broken up into fragments, three-eighths being at Jamaica and five-eighths distributed between Barbadoes and St. Lucia, hundreds of miles, and in one instance a thousand miles separating them. This was due to treating the defence of naval bases as a military question. When the stress of war came and a field force required, the condition of this force was that the officers had never had a chance of exercising their men in a battalion, it was monstrous, there was no other word for it. The Admiralty, it was said, were not responsible, but the taxpayers had not separate naval and military pockets, and in the interests of the taxpayers the expensive and inefficient system should be put an end to. The total regular military force distributed among the North American bases, including artillery and engineers, did not in the aggregate amount to more than the equivalent of 35 companies. There were, he knew, the equivalent of 14 companies of colonial forces. The army being adapted not for this work, but organised in a different way, when it was broken up into detachments the staff was enormous. For these 35 companies there were two Lieutenant-Generals—one was Governor of Bermuda, and came into the Colonial Vote, two Brigadier-Generals, 126 one Colonel, one Assistant Adjutant-General, two Military Secretaries, eight Deputy Assistant Adjutant-Generals, two Military Secretaries, two Aides-de-camp, one Staff-Captain; then there was the Medical Staff, the Ordnance Corps, and the Pay Departments. In the simple question of hospitals these four naval bases involved a charge for medical officers and army surgeons and subordinates of £12,000 a year, and in the Navy Estimates the charge for naval surgeons at these places was £6,000. By duplication they found that the money of the taxpayer was running away. Why? Because they insisted upon keeping up a system which was obsolete. The total cost of the staff for the equivalent of 35 companies of regular troops was £31,000. ["Hear, hear."] The country had been more or less agitated lately owing to the proposal of the War Office to try a new experiment with the flower of our infantry. Why was the experiment being made? To meet the naval demands. What was the Admiralty doing? There was the equivalent of two battalions of Marine Infantry in squads in empty ships at Plymouth, Portsmouth, and Chatham. They were deteriorating day by day. What was the duty of the men? It was principally to pull ashore the warrant officers who commanded the ships when they wanted to visit their wives and families. When they were not so engaged they were housemaiding the ships—polishing, blackleading, and whitewashing—or shifting naval stores about the dockyards. Why, when the War Office were experimenting with the Guards, should the Admiralty be deteriorating the Guards' rivals, the Marine Infantry, by treating them in this way? The standing Navy of England was a very modern institution; it was only begun to be created in 1853. So recently as 1853 there was a permanent list of naval officers, but there was no continuous service or permanent list of men. The Marines, however, originated so far back as the time of Admiral Blake. The 3rd Buffs and the Guards were the originators of the Marines, and for a hundred years the Navy relied for its nucleus of fighting men and discipline on the Line. Regiments of the Line were regularly embarked because the country neglected its seamen. It 127 was found that the demands of the Navy were breaking up the Army organisation, and so a special force was created, and the special force was the Royal Marine Infantry. The fact was that now that the standing Navy was beginning to work the Admiralty hardly knew what to do with it. Why was it that originally the Navy relied on the Army? Because the country neglected its seamen. It only took seamen in a ship's commission and then turned them adrift. There were three great functions for which the Marine force was created. The first was to maintain the discipline of the ship. The second was that they should by their experience in the handling of arms incite the seamen to imitate them. These two reasons had in a standing Navy disappeared. The third reason which had survived was that it might be a reserve of the Navy and to enable the expansion of the Navy. Indeed he might say there was a fourth function, which was that in Naval operations there should be a mobile military force at the disposal of the admirals to seize and hold positions. That had been al ways necessary, and it was even more necessary now than it ever had been. He would come to the last ten years. What happened at Alexandria? After the bombardment of Alexandria there were those outrages and burnings which were the origin of the subsequent troubles. Why was that? It was because of the want of such a mobile force as he suggested. In the old days there was a mobile force at the back of the Admiral which was carried in the ships, and could be left at any given point to seize and hold a position, and the ships could then withdraw and the Fleet remained an active fighting force. They could not have this mobile force now carried in ships; there was no room for extra force; and when the force now had to be landed the ships were not complete fighting machines. He would entreat the House to weigh the importance of the meaning of that. Had there been a battalion of Marines at Malta or Gibraltar, the result would have been that after the bombardment of Alexandria part of the mobile force brought by the Admiral from the Marine battalions at Gibraltar and Malta could have been landed, and the whole consequences of 128 that war would have been avoided. In 1884 there was a sudden need for troops at Suakim. The Admiralty telegraphed to Mediterranean Admiral: "Send your Marines on to Suakim." The Marines were sent on to Suakim, and having been withdrawn from the ships, the Mediterranean Fleet was inefficient as a fighting machine. That was a very serious matter. He now came to Crete, and he asked the House to consider the importance of providing this mobile force at stations for being used as the necessity arose. The Marines had been landed at Crete. It might be said that all other ships were doing the same as were their ships, but the fact remained that while these Marines were on shore, our vessels were not absolutely efficient fighting machines. This difficulty arose from the want of a mobile force at headquarters on the station. Had there been such a Marine force as he had indicated at head-quarters the Admiral could have distributed them as the occasion or the necessity required, but by landing the Marines they had deprived the ships of their full fighting capacity. He would like to grapple at once with an argument the Admiralty would bring forward that if they quartered this Marine force at the naval stations abroad they would then cease to be Marines. He would undertake to say that they could have 4,200 Marine Artillery and Infantry quartered at the naval stations abroad without interfering in the least with their sea-going efficiency. He took the number of 4,200 because there were 4,200 bluejackets in the Coastguard. These men were not under strict discipline of barrack life, they were scattered around their coasts, and they were part of the active Navy. They had a certain amount of drilling on shore to keep them efficient, but their main occupation in remote country districts was bucolic. His argument was that if they could keep 4,200 bluejackets absolutely efficient by quartering them on shore—with a period of ten days' drill and a participation in the autumn manœuvres of the Fleet—why could they not do the same with the Marines on naval stations abroad? What was the objection to such a system as he suggested? It would immediately give them the power of expansion that was desirable, it would be found 129 not to be at all impossible of adoption, it would add to the efficiency of the Navy and Marines, and would certainly I add to the efficiency of their armaments. He wanted the Marines to be where their sea service training could be kept up and he would not for one moment wish to dissociate the Marines from the naval service. By carrying out this proposal they would save the enormous charge for the Army Transport Vote. Then he said that the total amount of service abroad must not exceed the service at home. While they were keeping 4,200 bluejackets permanently rooted to the soil, they were keeping their Marines perpetually floating on the sea. If his right hon. Friend looked into it he would find that they were misappreciating what the Marines were for. They were intended to allow of the expansion of the Navy, but they now used them up by keeping them always at sea. Under the present system the whole world outside the channel was relying on the forces at home for their reserves of men. He instanced Hong Kong as a nucleus of power. At Hong Kong there were about 1,600 regular troops, Royal Artillery and Line. There were distributed in the China Fleet some 600 or 700 Marines, artillery and infantry. If 1,800 Marine force were placed on the station, 1,200 on shore and 600 in the Fleet, at the disposal of the Admiral, he could by interchange give every Marine one year at sea and two years on shore, during his three years' service on the China station, all the great cost of Army transport being saved. He argued that such a system as he advocated would be found not to be difficult of adoption, while it would add to the efficiency of the Navy and Marines, and would certainly add to the efficiency of their armaments. ["Hear, hear!"] They were training the Marine Artillery officers at great expense, and the Admiralty would not use them. For 200 years the Marine service had rendered great service. If they looked into it they would find that they were misappreciating, what the Marines were for. The Admiralty were making no use of the highly-trained officers—it was only when these officers escaped from Admiralty control they were allowed a career. Major Borat Crete was a Marine Artillery officer; Captain Oldfield at Dongola was also. 130 When Sir H. Kitchener was advancing to Dongola, who did he ask to support him? He telegraphed home for some Royal Marine Artillery, and he wanted more. Yet these were the men the Admiralty were wasting. There was no bad spirit in the Navy towards the Royal Marines, but it was felt the conditions under which the present system was originated had entirely changed. The Marines hall done their duty on every sea for 200 years, and had never failed. He appended to the First Lord of the Admiralty to use this service for the benefit of the Navy. The Admiralty could not go on pursuing its present policy of suppressing Marine officers without ruining the service which Lord St. Vincent, declared was the sheet anchor of England. [" Hear, hear."] The hon. Member concluded by moving his Resolution.
CAPTAIN PHILLPOTTS (Devon, Torquay)
said that the naval bases referred to in the discussion were maintained almost entirely for purpose of securing the efficiency of the Navy, and it was only reasonable, right and proper that the defence of these stations should be undertaken by the Navy. It had been 1 said that if the Naval Commander-in-Chief had control over the garrisons of these ports, he might be tempted to withdraw a portion of them, in order to strengthen his force afloat. He himself could imagine nothing less likely to happen. An Admiral would be courting disaster to his fleet if he lost command of his dockyards and coaling stations. He might disembark men to strengthen the force on shore, but no Admiral would dream of risking, the capture of his base of operations by an enemy. It was said that the Marines were too valuable a force to be allotted to the duty proposed by the Resolution. He did not think there was any more important duty than that of securing the safety of the naval bases. It was so important that only picked troops, men who could be thoroughly relied on, ought to be employed. Some hon. Members thought the Marines would lose their distinctive characteristics if employed on shore as proposed. If anything they would increase in efficiency. They would be in constant touch with their comrades of the Fleet, and constantly employed in attending to torpedo defences at the various naval 131 ports. Many of them were accustomed to boat work, and thoroughly adapted to the service proposed in the Resolution. As regarded the officers of the Royal Marines, he could only say that they were worthy of the men they commanded, and no higher praise could be awarded to any body of officers. But it must be and it was most discouraging to the officers of the Royal Marines to know that after going through a most careful and elaborate training there was no opening for them when they got to the senior ranks. There was work for Marine officers until they reached the rank of Lieut.-Colonel, but from that day onwards there was no proper scope for their energies. The adoption of the scheme suggested in the Resolution would remedy that grievance to a great extent, and give those officers whose zeal and ability no one could question a chance of distinguishing themselves in the higher ranks of their profession. This scheme would entail an increase of the Marine force. It was not nearly strong enough at present. At the headquarters at Plymouth there were only 22 men ready for embarkation, there were 300 more re-qualifying after a term of service, and there were 280 recruits. Whether the Resolution was adopted or not, it was absolutely necessary that the Marine force should be largely increased. It could be depended on as a Reserve for the Navy. The Mercantile Marine is unable to supply sufficient men to form an efficient Reserve for the Navy; and though the proposals of the First Lord of the Admiralty would materially improve the efficiency of the Reserves, he contended that it was of the utmost importance that the force of Marines should be largely increased. They would form a very important element in the disciplined force on board every ship that might be mobilised in time of war. A large increase in the number of Marines was absolutely essential, and he would therefore commend the Motion to the attention of the First Lord of the Admiralty.
§ GENERAL RUSSELL (Cheltenham)
said the question before them should be considered from a military as well as from a naval point of view. He maintained that the present system not only interfered with the efficiency of the 132 Army, but that also as our Army was at present constituted we could not properly defend our coaling stations in the manner in which they should be defended. The present system was a marvellous anomaly. How was it possible for young men to be trained to act efficiently in the field with arms of precision when they were shut up in fortresses for years? The regiments were sometimes divided, and one portion of it was at one station, and the other at another station. There was a regiment at Bermuda which was split up into two portions, and the cost of the staff was upwards of £2,000 a year. Then the Liverpool regiment was distributed between Barbadoes and Jamaica, there being five companies at Barbadoes, and three at Jamaica. How could the colonel be responsible for the efficiency of these men? In order to keep up this regiment there was a staff which cost £5,000 a year. An even worse case was that of the Leicester regiment, part of which was at the Cape, and part at St. Helena. How could the commanding officer be responsible for the efficiency of that regiment? Was he to command them by cable? These boys were only half-trained before they were sent out, and how could they acquire efficiency when they were out there? At Hong Kong there was another battalion the staff of which cost nearly £4,000 a year, and at Singapore, purely a coaling station, there was another battalion in the same condition. Could anything more damaging to the efficiency of the Army be imagined? It was a ruinous system for the Army, and a ruinous system for the coaling stations. He would further point out that the difficulty associated with the linked battalion system, namely that of keeping up the strength of the battalion at home to correspond with the strength of the battalion abroad, would be removed if the defence of the coaling stations were given over to the Admiralty. The Government were about to make an experiment with the Guards. He confessed that the speech of the Under Secretary for War in support of that experiment, able though it was, had not convinced him in the least. [Laughter.] But the House decided to 133 try the experiment. The duty of the three years' Guardsmen at Gibraltar would be to man the guns of the fortress, and the guns nowadays were not like the guns of years' ago into winch it was only necessary to ram a bag of powder and some shots.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The remarks of the hon. Gentleman are hardly pertinent to the question, which is whether it is desirable to remove the duty of protecting coaling stations from the military to the Marines.
§ GENERAL RUSSELL
said his point was that young soldiers could not have the experience necessary for the manning of the guns of those fortresses, while the Marines, on account of their long services were well fitted for the work. The present Government had done great things for the Army and he hoped they would complete their good work by transferring from the military to the Marines the duty of garrisoning the coaling stations.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
said that the reform proposed in the Resolution was one which he had advocated for years both inside and outside the House. He was sanguine enough to believe that its adoption was not far off, for experience had taught hint that when it was officially said that a thing ought not to be done and could not he done, it was very soon carried out. ["Hear, hear."] He remembered having heard it stated from the Treasury Bench that the Admiralty could not and should not make their guns or their gun carriages; but it was decided not long after that they should manufacture both. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling Burghs was a welcomed reinforcement to the ranks of those who supported this reform. He believed that the Secretary of State for India was also an advocate of the change. But, greatly as he welcomed the support of those right hon. Gentlemen, he based his advocacy of the reform on the plain ground of common sense. The Royal Marines were a body of 16,000 men, but the Board of Admiralty was exclusively composed of naval men. There was not one single representative of those 15,000 men upon the Board of Admiralty. Of course, they could not put out of sight the fact that there was a very natural desire on the part of the Admiralty not to overburden the already large Estimates. But, 134 as had been already pointed out by his hon. Friend, it was the taxpayers of the country upon whom the burden of the Estimates must fall, and it was a mistake to allow the two Services who ought to work together to become rivals. It certainly was opposed to common sense that the present arrangements with regard to the Royal Marines should be allowed to continue. The case was very different in foreign countries. In France, for instance, the Infantry of Marines were charged with the defence of the fortresses of the seaports. He should like to know whether the Royal Marines were to perform that duty in this country; what encouragement was given to the officers of the Royal Marines? Did the House know how many of the officers of the Royal Marines held the position of General; why there was only one officer of the Royal Marines who had attained to that post, and he had been relegated to a desk at Whitehall? What was the use of offering to these men a career which was limited by a seat at a desk in Whitehall? What inducement did they hold out to such officers to make themselves capable of taking higher rank? It was not at all surprising that some of these officers should not have taken the necessary steps to qualify themselves for higher positions. He should like hon. Members to go on board of some of Her Majesty's ships in order to see what the Royal Marines were doing on them. They would find that they were literally doing nothing, and that they were practically mere idlers on board. That was the sort of prospect that was held out to these men. It had been very properly remarked in the course of this Debate that some sort of a career ought to be open to the officers of the Royal Marines that would give them an opportunity of benefiting themselves, the nation, and the service. He did not attach much importance to the suggestion that the Royal Marines should become mobile garrisons, either at home or abroad. By putting the Marines to garrison the outlying stations the transport service would be got rid of. A battalion of infantry must be relieved as a whole, and when it went, the whole tradition of the defence of the fortress went with it. But if the Marines were in garrison, the admiral on the station would simply 135 make regular exchanges, and the routine of the garrison would not be interfered with, while the working efficiency of the fleet would be improved. All these reasons were so overwhelming that in the long run they were bound to prevail. He asked the House to become the advocates in this matter, because the Royal Marines had no advocates in the official world. The right hon. Gentleman would say that anything the Marines desired was always carefully considered by the Admiralty. That was so, but they had no representatives in positions of power and responsibility at the Admiralty. He hoped the House would pay attention to the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who preceded him. It was the speech of a soldier of great experience, who, after careful consideration, supported in every particular the claim made by the hon. and gallant Member for Yarmouth. Though they might not get far towards this reform that night, yet he hoped that in the near future they would see it completed, as every other reform to which the authorities had opposed a simple non possumus had been completed. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
said it was not true to say that the Marines had no advocates. As First Lord of the Admiralty he represented them quite as much as the naval officers. The Marines had, in fact, advocates on all sides; for the Navy could best produce them and the Army desired to have them. What the Army desired was that the Marines should perform those duties which were now performed in part by the Army, and that the Marines would perform them infinitely better; on the other hand, he would venture to put forward the consideration that if this movement was carried to its end it would remove a great part of the value of the Marines. The matter had been treated from two points of view—one, that of finding a career for Marine officers by opening up work for them; and the other was the broader question, from the imperial point of view, of whether the handing over of coaling stations which were strategic points to the Admiralty would really strengthen our position in the hour of need. There was one argument which somewhat amused him, and that was the enormous cost 136 which was involved now by the occupation by the Army of Bermuda and Hong-Kong and other places. A picture was drawn of the unnecessary expenditure on a large number of superfluous officers, and it was shown that Barmuda could not be garrisoned by soldiers without incurring an enormous expense for a staff. All he could say was that, if that were so, the War Office ought to look to it to reduce that unnecessary expenditure. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] If the value of the Marines to the Navy were diminished, as it would be, by the transfer, then he thought it better that the necessary reform in military organisation should be undertaken than that a blow should be struck at the Marines. It had been said from the broader point of view that they ought to undertake the defence of the naval bases because they were mainly intended for the naval service; but they were not intended specially for the naval service, but for Imperial service. They were part of our Imperial defences, and it would be incorrect to say that it was strictly from the naval point of view that some of the stations which had been alluded to ought to be defended. There were also places in which the Mercantile Marine were interested—strategic points of the Empire from a military as well as a naval point of view. It had been pointed out that in France and in Germany this system existed, and that there the forts and naval bases were held by the Navy and not by the Army; and it was said that we should follow the same system by placing coaling stations and forts in the hands of the Navy. But the House would readily see that the position was totally different, because the Navy was our first line of defence. We were, if he might use the phrase, on the opposite tack. We required to keep the Navy as free as possible for the enormous task that would be thrown upon it in time of war. At all events, whatever happened, the matter would not be ripe for a long series of years. ["Hear, hear!"] The question would have to be started, so to speak, from the beginning—["hear, hear!"]—and not only would the question have to be treated in that way, but there would be required a body of Naval Engineers as well as Marine Artillery.
§ SIR J. COLOMB
reminded the right hon. Gentleman that the Marine officers went through a torpedo course and submarine mining.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
said he was not thinking of these, but of the science of constructing fortifications and those duties which were performed by the Royal Engineers. But he would not press the point. He had only touched some of the difficulties the Admiralty might find in undertaking the work. In time of war the Admiralty and the whole of its organisation would have their hands so full that he wondered whether it was wise to place upon them the additional work of having to look after fortresses, and to consult the War Office on a number of points, crowding duties upon them, when already their work would strain their powers to the utmost. At the bottom of this movement they found the desire on the part of the Army to get rid of some disagreeable duties. ["No, no!"] He had seen proposals from the War Office that Sierra Leone, St. Helena, and Bermuda, should be given to the Admiralty. [An HON. MEMBER: "And Gibraltar."] Gibraltar was a new offer, made only since the Guards were to be sent there. A new force was given to the movement because the Guards were now on the side of the Marines, being used for military duties. Military men have pointed out that the training that could be given in these stations was inadequate, and that the men would deteriorate. But the Admiralty did not wish the Marines to deteriorate, or to be locked up in places where there were not proper ranges, and where they could not be properly exercised with arms of precision. They did not wish to remove them from their proper duties, which they considered to be with the Navy. The present position of affairs was that the Marines were an invaluable adjunct to the Navy, to whom they attached the greatest importance, because they could fight on sea as well as on land. They were invited by the Amendment to put men who could perform two duties into places where men were only required to perform one. An hon. Member said the Marines need not give up their usual training; but at present, looking to the proportion which the Marines bore to the ships to be put into commission, they 138 did not find that they could give the Marines any greater training than they required. If effect were given to the plan now recommended they would have to increase the Marines from 16,000 to 26,000; and if the present number were only able to get an adequate training, how would they be able to train the increased number properly? The Admiralty attached the greatest importance to the Marines as an integral portion of the naval forces, and it was because any movement by winch they would be made more like a colonial corps would diminish in their judgment their value for the Navy, that they were opposed to such a gigantic change as that which would be involved in the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member. He felt that the speech of the hon. Member was so important that a full answer ought to be given to it; but he had endeavoured to answer some of the points and to invite the attention of the House to the risks of the changes proposed. He was sure that when hon. Members heard the other side, some points of which he had endeavoured to indicate, the House would hesitate to make a change which, in the opinion of the immense majority of the naval service, would cripple our action in time of war to a degree which would be most inexpedient and contrary to our interests. He appealed to the House to allow the Speaker to leave the Chair now, so that on Friday time House might resume the discussion of the Estimates with the Chairman in the Chair. There would be ample opportunity to raise any point then in connection with the general administration.
§ MR. KEARLEY
thought that the point was too important to be disposed of so summarily. He noticed that the right hon. Gentleman did not treat of those inequalities from which the officers suffered, but confined his remarks to that part of the Amendment which dealt with time question of the Marines holding the naval bases. The question of the treatment of the Marines by the Admiralty was of the utmost importance. At the present time they represented one-fourth of the fighting strength of the Navy, and yet, in consequence of being sometimes under the Army and sometimes under the Navy, they stood in the position of being 139 under two stools, with all the inconveniences and disabilities which such a position entailed.
§ MR. SPEAKER,
interrupting the hon. Member, reminded him that the Amendment did not relate generally to the position of the Marines, but only their to suitability for a particular duty and that his line of remarks therefore was not in order.
§ MR. KEARLEY
, continuing his remarks amid constant Ministerial cries of "Divide," was understood to say that the question was one deserving of further discussion. ["Divide, divide!"] He should like to hear, for example, what the military representatives had to say about it from the military point of view. ["Divide, divide."] He did not think that, with an important question such as the consideration of the Navy Estimates the discussion should be a restricted one. These were—
And, it being midnight, Mr. Speaker proceeded to interrupt the business; whereupon,
THE FIRST LORD OF TILE TREASURY
rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the Question be now put." [Ministerial Cheers.]
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 111; Noes, 35.—(Division List, No. 73.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided; Ayes, 110; Noes, 30.—(Division List, No. 74.)
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I claim to move That the main Question be now put, "That Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair."
§ Main question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ Supply considered in Committee.