HC Deb 19 March 1897 vol 47 cc1059-76

4. £648,800, Works, Buildings, and Repairs, at home and abroad.—Agreed to.

5. £1,381,600, Victualling and Clothing for the Navy.


said that he wished to call attention to the order issued last year by the Commander-in-Chief at Devonport, with reference to the question of seamen wearing plain clothes on shore. In a communication which he had sent to the First Lord he pointed out that the order did not apply in the case of Portsmouth, and that when an attempt was made some twenty years ago to enforce an order of the kind, so much dissatisfaction was rightly expressed by the local tradesmen that the Admiralty allowed the order to lapse without officially withdrawing it. At Devonport the order had been allowed to lapse until the arrival of the new Commander-in-Chief, and its enforcement affected a large body of traders in the place, who, until then, had had the advantage of supplying the, men with plain clothes. The wish of the men to wear plain clothes on shore was not due to their being in any way ashamed of their uniform. They were, on the contrary, proud of it; but the conditions of life in port were such that the very best men found it desirable to wear plain clothes on land. The petty officers in harbour vessels, doing port duties, resided on shore, and naturally, when they went home, many of them liked to take a share in local affairs, and the wearing of plain clothes then resolved itself into a question of comfort and convenience. In the West of England nonconformity was very strong, and a large number of petty officers took leading parts in religious work, and it seemed to them that uniform was rather out of place in church or chapel, when the man wearing it was taking an active part in the service. Officers were subject to the same regulations as applied to the men, but in the officers' case the regulations were not enforced with rigidity. The same liberty ought to be extended to a seaman, who lived perhaps for three years at a home port, and who went on shore to his home night after night. Many men at Devonport who objected to the rigid enforcement of the order had shifted their quarters, so as to be outside the area patrolled by the naval patrol. There was another matter relating to the question of clothing which he wished to bring forward. Hitherto, chief petty officers and other ratings who wore the blue cloth had been allowed, on promotion, to get their outfits from their own outfitters, but recently an order had been issued that these men on joining or on promotion must procure their uniforms from the Government contractor. That had affected seriously the traders of Devonport, among whom the orders for these uniforms used to be distributed. The enforcement of the new order by the Admiralty meant a displacement of trade amounting to £15,000, and the loss of employment by a large number of men. It was his opinion that petty officers and others ought to be allowed to obtain their uniforms from whatever outfitters they preferred. The outfitters were quite willing to conform to any standard which, the Admiralty might lay down, and there ought to be no difficulty about securing uniformity of uniform. The new order appeared to him to amount in its results to an infringement of the Truck Act. Considering the great amount of dissatisfaction that was created by this order among the local trading community, he thought the Admiralty might well be lenient in their application of it. Such leniency would not be followed by any harmful results.


said that he could not admit that tradesmen in dockyard towns had any right to interfere in the smallest degree in questions which were matters of discipline. ["Hear, hear!"] The prosperity of these towns, he knew, depended largely on the expenditure in the dockyards, but when it was gravely suggested that such a question as whether plain clothes should be worn by seamen on shore ought to be decided by the local outfitters he thought the line must be drawn. ["Hear, hear!"] He knew that there was considerable agitation on this subject in dockyard towns—an agitation raised by the outfitters. Not long ago a deputation from a dockyard town proposed to wait upon him for the purpose of convincing him that bluejackets ought to wear plain clothes more than they did for the benefit of the townspeople. He refused to receive the deputation, not from want of courtesy, but because he did not think that the local authorities of the dockyard towns had any locus standi in the matter. It was not for them to decide how often and on what occasions bluejackets should wear uniform. According to what he had heard, when young sailors received their pay, outfitters rushed at them and tried to persuade them to wear private clothes. That was not a practice which he cared to encourage. Captains of ships had drawn his attention to this practice, and there was nothing improbable in the allegation, for as these towns were so anxious for custom it would be very unlike tradesmen not to take the first opportunity of getting hold of those who were likely to become good customers. The very importance that was attached to the question in dockyard towns showed how interested the townspeople were in promoting a custom which the Admiralty certainly did not wish to promote. It had been suggested that it was out of place for men in the Navy to appear in a Sunday school, or church, or chapel, in uniform. The present system was not worked harshly, but generously, and it was the opinion of the Admiralty, as, indeed, of all naval men, that it was to the interest of the service generally that uniform should be worn in the dockyard towns, and they were not prepared to depart in any way from that general position. ["Hear, hear!"] Every facility was given where it was necessary or clear that an advantage would arise from the wearing of plain clothes for this to be done, but the Admiralty did not wish to depart front the present practice, nor could he hold out any hope to the hon. Member that they would do so. The system of supplying the cloth for the uniforms from one Department insured that the same quality should be provided for all the Men, and prevented that diversity of pattern which was frequent before the existing arrangement was entered into. Formerly, when the men purchased their uniforms privately it was found that they were not quite right, and the defect had to be corrected at their own expense, or they had to purchase new uniforms. If it were shown that the uniforms now supplied to the men were of an inferior quality, that they had to pay More for them, or that there was any drawback which weighed heavily upon those who took their uniforms in this way from the Government stores, he would give the matter his best consideration. It was necessary that the men who entered the Navy should get their first uniform supplied from the Government stores, but inquiries should be made as to whether the men who re-entered were compelled to follow the same course.


whilst agreeing that a certain amount of laxity should be given in certain instances, considered that, in dockyard towns, it was extremely important that the men, unless there was grave and good reason against it, should go ashore wearing their uniform. He did not believe they were ashamed of their uniforms, but that, on the contrary, they were extremely proud of them. Again, it was an advantage that the naval uniform should be seen on shore. It was so little known that, when an officer came to London, people would fancy he was a railway servant, or something of that sort, and ask him what time the next train went to Exeter. [Laughter.] It was unfortunate that the naval uniform should be so little known, and inasmuch as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Kearley), who represented the cause of the vendors of" reach-me-downs," had no further argument than want of comfort to advance, he really thought his case fell to the ground.


thought that with regard to the wearing of plain clothing, the same latitude should be extended to the ordinary seamen as was extended to the officers. It was quite natural that a seaman should desire to be relieved from the necessity of wearing uniform when he was attending divine service. He thought the hon. Member for Devonport had made out a good case for re-instituting the system by which, for a considerable period, men of all classes in the Navy were allowed to appear in plain clothes.

Vote agreed to.

6. £161,400 Medical Establishments and Services.—Agreed to.

7. £10,600 Martial Law.


drew attention to the Lewes Prison, and asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether it was not the fact that a large number of seamen were sent there before their cases were adjudicated upon by Courts Martial? He was quite certain there was an abuse there, and he called attention to it, with a view to securing a remedy.


promised that inquiry should be made into the matter.


drew attention to the system of Naval Courts Martial. Up to 1881, the system of Courts Martial in the Army prevented any ordinary procedure being adopted such as existed in other courts of judicature, and a prisoner was obliged to have his questions written down, and they could only be addressed to the witnesses by and through the Court. This resulted in the destruction of many advantages to be derived from a verbal examination, and an examination on the spot. That system was entirely altered for the Army, and in 1893 a procedure was adopted which was the same as that now ordinarily followed in the ordinary courts of law. That was to say, the solicitor, or counsel, or friend of the prisoner bad the right of appearing for him and of conducting the examination in the usual way. But whilst that was the reformed system now applicable to Military Courts Martial, the present system of procedure in Naval Courts Martial was fixed by the Naval Discipline Act of 1866; and the Admiralty Instructions of 1893, framed under this old statute, followed much the same system as that followed in the old Courts of Chancery. Written interrogatories were administered, and the answer to each interrogatory was written down. In the Courts of Chancery this procedure was abolished many years ago and in the Naval Courts Martial alone was the system perpetuated under the Act of 1866. The procedure in Military Courts Martial should be adapted to the Courts of other arms of the Service. Besides this, whilst Military Courts Martial could adjourn, the statute of 1866 prevented the Naval Courts Martial adjourning. Naval Courts Martial often had to adjourn from day to day for the attendance of witnesses whose evidence was deemed desirable; but, owing to the power to adjourn being prohibited by statute, the Court had to go through the farce of meeting daily in the interim till the final date when the business could be disposed of. This wasted the time of the members of the Court and involved expense. He trusted that the procedure in Naval and Military Courts Martial would be made alike.


said that the procedure which had been followed so long had worked extremely well, and miscarriages of justice had been extremely rare. But he would look into the matter.


said he wished to complain of the disqualification of Royal Marine officers from sitting on. Naval Courts Martial when afloat. When the late Sir John Pope Hennessey brought the matter forward on the Army Annual Bill in 1891, the then First Lord of the Admiralty gave a definite promise that he would move an Amendment to the Naval Discipline Act giving Royal Marine officers a privilege which they enjoyed on shore. The First Lord said:— A good many naval officers objected to the proposed change. I personally cannot see why the change should not be made, and I will undertake to consider the matter, and propose an Amendment to the Naval Discipline Act this Session or next to carry it out. He trusted the present First Lord would carry out the pledge of his predecessor.


said that as he read the "pledge," it merely was to consider the matter. Naval officers raised considerable objections, both from technical and disciplinary points of view, to the proposed change. He would consider the matter, but he could not definitely pledge himself to accede to the request of the hon. Member.

Vote agreed to.

8. £249,900, Royal Naval Reserves.


asked if the First Lord of the Admiralty could enlighten the Committee as to the progress made in training the Reserve. It was stated that in the increased amount of the Vote provision had been made for the increased attendance at drill apart from embarkation on board ships. The present drill in the batteries did not afford sufficient training for the men. The First Lord had taken credit for improving the batteries, but they were still, in the Opinion of those who had visited them, far from giving a satisfactory training in gunnery and discipline. Some improved guns had been put into them, but they were not of the most modern description. He should also be glad to hear what steps had been taken to improve the system of six months' training, which had seemed hitherto to be rather a failure.


also asked for information as to the guns which had been supplied to the batteries. There had been certain improvements, but he was afraid they were slight. To train the men with old-fashioned guns was of very little use. Training men for ship service in a battery ashore had serious disadvantages, as all sorts of assumptions had to be made. The men ought to be trained in a ship, or hulk, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman was preparing to abolish entirely the present system of training in batteries in favour of ships. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give them some further information as to the prospects of the exceedingly interesting and serious experiment he was about to make of embarking second class men on board district ships for six months' training. Perhaps this was an attempt to substitute drill in ships for drill in batteries ashore, but in many cases there were no district ships, and it would be rather inconvenient if the men had to go a long distance for their training. The difficulty about reserve men was not that they were badly trained, but that it was very hard to get them to submit to the necessary restraint of naval discipline. In the naval service one man had to do one thing, and another man another, whereas it was different in the merchant service and in fishing vessels. Another point was that these men, when taken on board ship, were commonly put to the meanest and lowest jobs, and this discouraged them. He hoped the Admiralty would make this six months attractive to the men, and bring down the pension from the age of 60 to 50.


said that with regard to batteries being fitted with modern guns, a number of batteries had had an addition made to their armaments during 1896–97. They were doing their best, and they thoroughly appreciated the great importance of having these modern guns. He was afraid it would be a long time before they should go as far as to do away with the batteries altogether. There were two different lines of policy which might be adopted—one would be to do away with the batteries and only employ district ships for training the men and the other would be to employ district ships where possible while keeping up the supply of guns and so forth in the batteries. He placed the ships in the first rank, and these armament batteries in the second rank, but the Committee would see that they had certainly not neglected the case of these batteries, and had made it part of their duty to improve the drill wherever possible. In the scheme of mobilisation the newest ships would have the fewest Reserves, and as they got to the older ships they would increase the proportion of the number of Reserve men. The older ships, of course, were not fitted with such modern guns, and, therefore, if the Reserves were trained to use such guns as were in the older ships, it must not be thought that their work was thrown away. They would naturally all be trained as far as possible with modern guns. He begged the Committee would consider in all these matters how difficult it was to make rapid and proportionate progress in every direction proposed. Of the new scheme in regard to the Naval Reserve, he could not give final and absolute particulars, but he could give a sketch of the plan they were working out with all the attention they could bestow upon it. He hoped very shortly it would be in active operation. The cardinal points were to secure six months' training if it could possibly be done, and to do away with the old distinctions between first and second class, and establish a system of promotion from one class to the other. They based their hopes of success on two points—the promotion from the second class to the first class, dependent upon the six months' training, and on the pension. It was thought that the pension which was proposed would be one of the chief attractions which would induce the men to go for the six months' training. He had again been reassured that it was expected that the present second class men would avail themselves to a great extent of this offer. Of course only experience could show what the result would be, but those who were in touch with the whole of our Service were extremely hopeful that the attraction held out in the scheme would be sufficient for their purpose. He rather thought that the number of Reserves who might be expected to come forward had been underestimated, and the Committee would agree that if, besides the hold the Admiralty now had over them, they could have the additional hold of the advantages that would be forfeited if they did not appear, then there was considerable security for their appearance at periods of emergency. It had not been thought necessary to propose a larger increase until they had had some experience of how the experiment of sea-training resulted. With experience they could with some approach to certainty say to what extent the Reserves should be increased. He would not say the point at which they should stop, but first let them be content with the present proposal until the result of the experiment was known. It would be better to have 25,000, of whom 20,000 had been to sea for six months, than a larger number untrained. ["Hear!"] He could not guarantee the success of the scheme, but he would be disappointed if it did not succeed. The Admiralty had taken all reasonable means to secure a successful result to their experiments, but could not guarantee success. For the 600 Reserve men who would be afloat at one time the best arrangements that were possible would be made. It was not easy at first sight to see how the distribution could be arranged. Of course the training must be on ships not engaged on distant cruises, for the term of training was only six months, but the Admiralty officials were carefully considering how the six months would be best employed. So far as he could he had given the outlines of the proposal, and was ready to answer any further questions, admitting the value of a full discussion upon it.

MR. W. ALLAN (Gateshead)

said he had listened with great interest to the right hon. Gentleman's statement of the scheme proposed in regard to the Reserves. The amount of money for the Reserves, £249,900, was far too small, and the increase was not enough to call forth adequate Reserves for the Fleet. He turned to the pages of the Estimates relating to the Reserves. He was told the other day that the Admiralty were getting plenty of engineers and artificers for the Navy, and that there was an ample reserve, but he found that the reserve of engineers was as last year, 300; no increase at all. The amount of money for lieutenants and sub-lieutenants was only increased by £500, but there were no additions to engineers. Why had not the First Lord made arrangements for increasing the reserve of engineers? He was told the other day of some 98 torpedo boats rusting in various yards at home and abroad; could they be manned should they be required? Why should these remain useless in basins and creeks? Why should not a scheme be formulated for the training of engineers for the Reserve, and one of these torpedo boats be stationed at every port and at the mouth of every river round our coasts for the training of engineer reserves? Why should not a torpedo boat be stationed at Sunderland and on the Tyne for such training purposes? Ho had repeatedly urged the training of engineers for the Reserve, but his words had been very lightly treated by the Admiralty. As he read in the Portsmouth correspondence, the steam reserve was terribly short of officers and men. There were not enough to keep ships moderately efficient, and when the Mars completed her trials at the end of the week and the Powerful went for her gun trails there would not be enough men for both ships at once.


said the hon. Member was not referring to the Naval Reserve?


said he was speaking of the reserve of engineers, but he would not proceed if it was a painful subject to the right hon. Gentleman.


said he did not know whether the hon. Member meant the Naval Reserve; the Portsmouth correspondent was alluding to the active list of the steam reserve and dockyard reserve.


said if that was the condition of the active list, where were the reserve engineers? There were 300 down in the Estimates but no more. Was it not an extraordinary state of affairs that, with an expenditure of 22 millions, there should be no reserve of engineers? It was all very well to say you could get 25,000 reserve men, but where were the firemen and engineers? What would be the use of bluejackets if there were no firemen and engineers? He would like to see in the Estimates provision made for engineers and firemen to man every ship in case of need. If the Reserve ships were mobilised, were there engineers to put on board of them? No; for there were but 300 engineers in the Reserve. The right hon. Gentleman would be well advised if he had put down double the amount of money and made it half a million for the Reserves. What availed it to put on board the Reserve ships bluejackets and men to work the guns, if there were not men below to work the heart and life of the ship in the engine room? At every port there should be a torpedo boat, and every encouragement should be given to young men to join the engineer reserve. He had little doubt that apprentices and young men would join, he could himself induce a score of such to join. Put down half a million or more for Reserves, and let the country have the satisfaction of knowing that for every ship afloat there were the men to man her at any moment when required.

MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)

said the practical knowledge and experience of the hon. Member who had just spoken entitled his observations on engineering subjects to careful consideration. Whether correctly or not he did not know, but it was reported at the time of the late naval manœuvres that so short were the Admiralty of engineers that they even had to withdraw a few from the Royal yacht. At the moment we had in the Reserves between 23,000 and 24,000 men. That was an absolutely insufficient number in the event of war. It had been calculated that in the first six or eight months of a naval war we would lose from 20 to 25 per cent. of the men in the Fleet. How could those losses be replaced? Where would we get engineers to replace the engineers of the first line? He contended that the Naval Reserve should be not 23,000 men, its present strength, but at least 50,000 or 60,000 men. A very large percentage of the men who left the Army after five or six years' service went into the Reserve, and the State paid a large sum to maintain them. But nothing of that kind was done in the Navy. When the men left the Fleet, after 10 or 21 years' service, no effort was made, as in the Army, to retain them in the Reserve. He would suggest that in order to bring the Reserve up to the proper strength, a bonus should be given, not only to the sailors who served in the Mercantile Marine, but to the shipowners, to retain in their service men who would be available for the Reserve; and also that inducements should be held out by the offer of bounties to the fishermen and others connected with the sea in our colonies to serve in the Fleet in case of emergency. In that way the colonies would be knit together with the Mother Country in a grand Imperial system for the defence of the Empire. He also thought the number of training ships should be increased. There were parts of the kingdom from which, if there were only training ships there, a large number of boys could be obtained for the Navy. He admitted that the Admiralty had taken a step or two in the right direction, but, in his opinion it was a monstrous thing that we, who were able to build ships year after year faster than any other nation, should not have sufficient men to man them in times of difficulty and danger. He ventured to think that the House would most willingly vote a million of money for a sufficient Reserve, and thus show to foreign countries that if our first line of defence should unfortunately be defeated, we would have sufficient men and sufficient ships to retrieve the disaster.


considered that the scheme which had been presented to the Committee by the First Lord of the Admiralty was a good step in the direction of obtaining a really efficient Reserve; and he had no doubt that under it the Admiralty would be able to obtain as many men as they desired. In certain batteries there were men who looked upon the Reserve as a gigantic system of outdoor relief. That feeling did not prevail in the South of England, but he knew it existed in the North of Scotland. In 1886, when there was an impression that this country would be engaged in a naval war, he had had the honour of commanding a large battery of Reserve men, among whom there was a very strong feeling in favour of volunteering. He desired to join in the appeal of his hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn to the First Lord of the Admiralty to lower the age at which men in the Naval Reserve became entitled to a pension. For men who followed the hard life of the sea 60 years was a very high age for a pension, and he believed that if the age were lowered to 50 years the Admiralty would get a much better class of men.


expressed the opinion that the scheme propounded by the First Lord of the Admiralty was doomed to failure at the outset. Before entering on the new departure, the Admiralty ought to have initiated some system under which the existing Reserve could be reorganised and made more efficient. A great deal had been said in and out, of the House with regard to the efficiency of their Naval Reserves. It had been alleged that, in the event of war, their Naval Reserves would not come forward for the purpose either of serving or of replacing that waste which must naturally occur during war. As against those allegations he would like to mention the Report of the Departmental Committee, presided over by the late Admiral Tryon, which sat for the purpose of inquiring into the then existing organisation of the Reserve. One point of the inquiry was to ascertain whether the men would or would not come forward in the event of an emergency. In accordance with the evidence, and the facts and figures placed before the Committee, they found that, out of a Reserve of something like 20,000 men, there came up for drill in the year 1891 no fewer than 18,800 men, nearly half of them belonging to the seafaring class. It was also found that out of those 18,800 men, 16,000 of them were employed in the home or coasting trade, and 2,500 only were engaged in the long voyage trade. This was disproof of the allegation that, in the event of an emergency, the Reserves would not be available. He held that the Naval Reserve proper ought to be raised to the numbers in accordance with the Act of 1859, namely, 30,000 men. In his opinion, the Admiralty were not utilising the material they had at hand, and which they could utilise at a very small expense. They were not utilising the material they had at hand in connection with their seamen and fishermen. He held, therefore, that it was the bounden duty of the Admiralty at once to increase the Reserve under a system which could be extended, and not to enter upon this Utopian scheme of creating a new reserve by enrolling a number of men for six months, because he felt bound to say that the scheme was doomed to be unsuccessful, as men would not leave good employment for six months, which, when finished, might leave them iii the same predicament as the men of the Army Reserves—namely, swelling the ranks of the unskilled unemployed. He held that, in addition to the resources ill this kingdom, there were other resources out of which reserves might be raised which had never yet been tapped. There were, for instance, 70,000 men and boys engaged in seafaring life, in the coasting and fishing trades of Newfoundland. They ought to enlist a large number of men in their Naval Reserve in connection with their colonies, who, in the event of war, would be invaluable in replacing the waste and in supplying any less which might occur in connection with the men on board the Fleet on the North American station. He was glad to hear from the First Lord that their obsolete batteries were at last to be done away with and re-armed, but he held that the whole of the men in connection with the Naval Reserve should as far as possible be sent on board and be made familiar with the working of the ships on which they alight one day have to fight. All classes of ships should be sent to the several Reserve Districts, and the men trained on board at sea, without, however, interfering materially with their shore employment.

CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)

said that the Admiralty, having left the old groove, would no doubt take this matter in hand with the greatest zeal and enthusiasm, and he was quite ready to believe that his right hon. Friend and those who advised him had turned the information at their disposal to the best account on this occasion. He should have thought that there was further room for further consideration as to whether 60 was not somewhat too old for a pension, but that seemed to be regarded as a proper age by a considerable number of persons, and he had no very strong views on the subject himself. He was disposed, looking far ahead, to rely much more upon a real Reserve than a good many Gentlemen who addressed that House and many Gentlemen who had had official connection with the Admiralty. He quite agreed with the First Lord that they could not expect this country to keep on the active list a larger number of seamen than what they now understood as a liberal allowance—at this moment, he supposed, something like 100,000 men. But he thought they would have, in the future, to rely much more upon a highly-trained Reserve. He was inclined to think that the sound policy would be to affiliate to their existing system a system of short service. He thought it was very doubtful indeed whether six months' training would be sufficient to make the men efficient for the purpose. He doubted whether anything under two or three years would really make a Reserve such as they understood by a Reserve when they spoke of it in connection with the Army. The Admiralty could not easily have taken a step of this kind all at once. He congratulated the First Lord on what he had done, and, if it were successful, it would effect a great improvement, because there was no doubt whatever that the Reserve to-day was completely unsatisfactory. Whatever the willingness and zeal of the men, the training had hitherto been so insufficient that in case of war a small number of Reserve men would have had to be scattered among a large number of trained men. The suggestion that engineers and firemen should be trained on torpedo boats stationed at various ports was well worthy of consideration. The engineers front the merchant service could no doubt do useful service on the large men of war, but the engines and boilers of torpedo boats and destroyers would be wholly unfamiliar to them. They were of quite a different type.

MR. JOHN PENN (Lewisham)

said that if the fresh departure made this year were judiciously carried out it would be of the utmost value to the service. It was most important that the Reserve men should receive a training in the home ports, where they could become acquainted with the construction and repair of machinery, and where they could be sent out on the various vessels making the trials. The experience of the new type boilers and engines running at the highest pressure which they would thus get, was something which no six months at sea would supply.

GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)

asked how it came that 300 boys were included in the Reserve. Boys should be trained for the Navy, not for the Reserve. Of the 1,400 officers on the Reserve establishment this year, he believed that nearly all were employed on ocean going steamers. In this duty, they simply went to and fro over one route. Now the Navy, in time of war, would have a great deal of coast duty to do, and men who knew every headland, harbour, current and tide, would be most useful in such work. There were hundreds of men in Canada—the masters of steamers on the coasting trade—who would be most valuable in the Reserve. Why did not the Admiralty avail themselves of such men? Last week he had been reported to say that there were from 4,000 to 5,000 deep- sea fishermen in Canada. Those figures related to the number in his own constituency; the number in all Canada was 71,000.

MR. J. C. MACDONA (Southwark, Rotherhithe)

called the attention of the Admiralty to the large number of "readymade men" that were available for the Navy on the River Thames, at the port of London. There were between 10,000 and 12,000 watermen and lightermen exclusively employed on the Thames, and able and willing to serve their country. At a large meeting, held about a year ago, more than 1,000 of the men volunteered to give their services to the country as Reservists, if the Government would only grant them the same facilities as their fellows enjoyed at other ports in the country. These men would be most valuable, for, in case of war, the enemy would certainly make straight for London.


said that the "ready-made men" in his hon. Friend's constituency were essentially river men, and had not the preliminary sea-training which men in the Reserve possessed. He did not think his hon. Friend's constituency was in danger of invasion; but he would rather offer his hon. Friend to a foreign foe than increase the expenditure on the Reserve to include the men his hon. Friend had mentioned. As to the sources suggested by the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke, that opened large Imperial questions which had not been contemplated by the Admiralty in this connection. The Admiralty had taken a new departure and proposed to offer facilities to a proportion of engineer officers in the Naval Reserve to attend for a three months' training at one of the ports this year. If this step were a success, the Admiralty would no doubt follow it up. They were quite conscious of the benefits which would be derived from a large number of engineer officers coming forward for this training. The hon. Member for Gateshead had said the Admiralty had torpedo-boats in various ports but could not man them. There was no foundation for that assumption. The manning or such boats was provided for among the Active Service men voted in the Estimates, and it was not the intention of the Board of Admiralty that engineer officers in the Naval Reserve should serve on torpedo-boats or torpedo-boat destroyers. In time of war vessels of this class would be manned exclusively by engineer officers engine room artificers and stokers of the Royal Navy. The only other point he had to notice was that raised by the hon. Member for St. Pancras. It was not the fact that during the recent manœuvres engineer officers had to be withdrawn from the Royal Yacht because they were required for other ships.


asked why the Admiralty had not more than 300 reserve engineers.


thought he had made that plain. They did not require any more. According to their calculations they had sufficient engineer officers in the Royal Navy to man the Fleet. They had 300 in the Naval Reserve who might become available in the event of waste of war, but they were not required for mobilisation.


said he had shown conclusively that they could not man the Fleet at present; 300 reserve engineers were not reserve at all for the Navy of Great Britain. Instead of a paltry £250,000 being taken for the reserve, they ought to take half-a-million sterling, and instead of having 300 reserve engineers, they should have something like 3,000. The Admiralty would not give young engineers encouragement to join the service. Three or four years ago he undertook to get 50 reserve engineers if the country would only give them a retaining fee of £10 or £15 a year and allow them to wear a jacket with brass buttons. Hundreds were to be got at every engineering port if proper encouragement were given.

Vote agreed to.

9. £2,675,000 Naval Armaments.


remarked that about ten years ago the Ordnance Department was placed under the the Admiralty, and Parliament was informed that the conduct of that Department would be handed over to naval officers. Although ten years had elapsed, not a naval officer was employed on the work. Was there any chance of gunnery officers or officers thoroughly qualified being intrusted with those duties?


said that the future of the Naval Ordnance Department had not yet been definitely settled. It was still under consideration whether it was advisable, or possible, in all cases to substitute naval officers for the present officers, who were drawn from the Army. He could not give his hon. and gallant Friend any definite information now.

Vote agreed to.

10. £195,400, Miscellaneous Effective Services.—Agreed to.

11. £243,600, Admiralty Office.—Agreed to.

12. £749,500, Half Pay, Reserved, and Retired Pay.—Agreed to.

13. £1,053,200, Naval and Marine Pensions, Gratuities, and Compassionate Allowances.—Agreed to.

14. £327,400, Civil Pensions and Gratuities.—Agreed to.

15. £60,300, Additional Naval Force for Service in Australasian Waters.


asked whether anything was being done to improve the cruisers on the Australian station.


said it was proposed to gradually substitute other ships for those now employed on the station. The same course was being followed in other cases. ["Hear, hear!"]

Vote agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.