§ £4,988,000, Wages, etc., of Officers, Seamen, Boys, Coastguard, and Marines.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
I rise to answer some inquiries which have been put to me with regard to this Vote, but before doing so I should like to say that the statement made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean with regard to a Return, within a certain period, of the shipbuilding of this country, and of France, and of Russia, I think the period has been arbitrarily selected, and I cannot accept it.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
I took a period of time covered; by two Government Returns. There have only been three Returns altogether; I took the two nearest together.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
Any comparison between the shipbuilding of this country, or the amount of the ships of this country, against those of foreign Powers I always endeavour, as far as possible, to avoid, especially when statements of this character are made. The right hon. Gentleman said that between the Returns, of 1893 and 1896 this country had built seven ships, of 95,000 tons, while Franco and Russia had built 11 ships, of 98,700 tons. To anyone who reads that paragraph it would convey the impression that we were behind. The comparison had been drawn as if the ships mentioned were actually begun and finished during the period mentioned. As a matter of fact the list comprised only those which were actually completed. Many of the Russian and French ships which had been completed during that period had been very much longer on the stocks than ours. Therefore it is no criterion. The right hon. Gentleman, although he has not a Parliamentary Return showing what ships have been added since 1896, has a deal of knowledge of what has been done. We have completed seven of our most magnificent ships. Seven ships of the Majestic class have all been added to the Navy since the period mentioned by the 253 right hon. Gentleman. During that period France has added one ship and Russia has added two to their respective Navies. Then, if I take the tonnage, we get an aggregate tonnage of 199,000 tons, against the aggregate tonnage of France and Russia of 136,000 tons; so, taking both the tests of the right hon. Gentleman, if he takes it equally, from March, 1893, to March, 1898, we have built a great deal more than the other two Powers, and we have added ships to our Fleet considerably larger, and, as we consider, better than any of those which have been added by cither of those nations. I find that the shipbuilders of France and Russia, have accelerated the pace at which they build ships, but we have also accelerated our pace, and with regard to one vessel I might say, within two years of the keel being laid down the ship passed into the hands of the Admiralty. I turn now to another question, upon which I have something to say, and upon which a question has been put—the question of Armour. I think I may correct some misapprehensions which may have resulted from what I stated the other day. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield has pointed out to me that a statement has been made which would suggest that I have said that our power of production of armour is insufficient for the needs of this country and as if I was actually in favour of Government establishments for the manufacture of armour. Now, it will be within the recollection of the Committee that, I said exactly the contrary. I said I was against the manufacture of armour by the Government, and I have thrown no doubt upon the productive capacity of private firms in the near future, but I was dealing with the difficulties which arise in consequence of strikes and the invention of new processes of producing armour, by which the manufacture has been delayed. In the current financial year we have asked to spend on armour £800,000. Of this amount It has been only possible to spend £500,000. We look to spend one million and a quarter in the year 1898–99, while in the following year, 1899–1900, we contemplate a further expenditure of one million and three-quarters. We stand committed to an expenditure up to the end of the year 1899–1900 of three millions 254 of money, and we believe that the capacity of Sheffield will be equal to producing the amount of armour required, spread over that, period of time. There are, as I understand, certain difficulties which stand in the way, but which are being rapidly overcome. The new process now being introduced not only requires new experience, but new machinery and plant, which has had to be put up at very great cost. The public spirit of the manufacturers was such, that they were prepared to meet the cost, and when the machinery is completed, and as ships require it, they will be able to supply the armour. Upon the question of armour I desire that the Committee will clearly understand that that is not a difficulty which affects ourselves alone. All the nations who are building warships are being arrested and disturbed by precisely the same causes that trouble us. The new process originally came from Germany, and wherever they have tried to adopt the new system—in France and Russia and elsewhere—they have had to change the whole of their plant. I think the Sheffield firms, even as they stand now, will be able to supply as much armour as all the other armour-producing centres. The difficulty, in the commencement, is in gauging the capacity of production, but we have entered into arrangements after a full examination into the facts, and with the full knowledge of the amount of armour the manufacturers can produce. Well, now, I pass to the question as to the success of the new armour, which the hon. and gallant Admiral has called "nickel armour." Its quality can be gauged from the fact that the new 6-inch armour will be equal in resisting power to the old 10-inch or 10-inch armour of 1896; therefore, all our new ships to be built in the future will have this new 6-inch armour, and they will have just as much resisting power as those which had 10-inch armour before.
§ SIR JOHN T. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
If nickel armour is not a proper description of the new armour, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what is the proper description?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
I am sorry, but I would rather not answer extemporarily that 255 question. The Committee will sympathise, I am sure, with the extreme difficulty of one in my position being cognisant of all the details of a secret manufacturing process. The hon. Member for Yarmouth—I do not know whether he is in the House or not—is anxious that I should answer one point he particularly asked on the subject of the contributions of the Colonies to Imperial defence. He appears to think it extraordinary that so little should be contributed by other parts of the Empire to naval defence. My hon. Friend alluded to the question of the Jubilee, and suggested that the opportunity afforded by last year's Jubilee should have been utilised to urge upon the Colonial representatives the desirability of increasing the contributions for Imperial defence. The Government, however, were of opinion that to mix up business and hospitality in that way would have been a very questionable proceeding. My hon. Friend, in his desire to impress upon the conscience of the Colonies their duty to the mother country a duty which no one appreciates snore highly than myself, either in my present position or in that of Chancellor of the Exchequer—was so anxious to impress this upon the Colonial representatives that he had suggested that copies of a Return showing the proportion of Colonial naval expenditure to the commerce of the world and to the commerce if the Colonies should be scattered about in the ships which the Colonial representatives came in to attend the Jubilee; but the Government had not seen their way to carry out that suggestion. No doubt the idea that the Colonies should contribute to the cost of Imperial defence had now taken root to a certain extent, and I hope that it may grow to a very vigorous plant. The hon. Member for Yarmouth has asked me a question with reference to the ironclad promised us by the Cape. Well, I may be allowed to say that when anybody has promised a present, it seems to me that until that promise is actually withdrawn good taste requires that no further inquiries should be made as to the form or the particular time at which that promise shall be fulfilled. Well, then, my hon. Friend has made an important survey of the Imperial situation, and he made some 256 interesting remarks with regard to the part which Marines played in the Navy in former times, and he suggested that the proportion of Marines was much too small as regarded the total of the Fleet. He stated that in former times the Marines were represented by one-fourth, and that now the proportion is only one-sixth. But I do not think my hon. Friend compared like with like. He compared the proportion of the Marines absolutely to the whole of the men and boys who are on the active list, whereas he should have excluded a large number of ratings to which there is no correspondence in past days. And, besides that, as regards stokers and others, the Marines have quite as large a proportion, if not a larger, to the pure Bluejacket than they did before. Of course, this proportion is very considerably reduced if the whole of the engine-room complements, and other such ratings—which in the old Forces did not exist—are taken into account. That brings me naturally to a question upon which I know the House is extremely interested, and that is the question of the Reserves. A number of questions have been put to me with regard to the Reserves, and I have been asked whether I would state what I consider a very proper proportion of Reserves to the whole. Well, in order to answer that, we must analyse the personnel of the Fleet, and take into account for what classes you require the Reserves. You do not require the Reserves for every class. There are six per cent. of a ship's company which belong to what are called "miscellaneous ratings." They include domestics, hospital attendants, etc., and a number of other men from which classes I do not think anyone will contend that a Reserve is required, for we can rapidly increase these classes at a moment's notice. Well, then, the two main classes, or rather three main classes, for which a Reserve is wanted are the Bluejackets, the engine room ratings, and the Marines. You have got to look at your Bluejackets, and you have got to look at your engineers and Marines and see what Reserves you want. I think that will be admitted to be a more business-like way of proceeding than taking the whole total of the Fleet. Then as regards Bluejackets and the total personnel of the Fleet, not more 257 than 40 per cent. are pure bluejackets. You require a Reserve of seamen of a new class and they must be in proportion to the number of stokers, and it does not necessarily follow that the different classes should bear the same proportion. For example, it is perfectly true, and it has been proved, that untrained stokers can be trained and made much more efficient for a certain class when they are taken direct from outside than untrained sailors taken from outside. The bluejackets have much more to learn than stokers. All the stokers we have are very good men, and I may say that the Reserve stokers who were taken on during the last naval manœuvres gave great satisfaction. And, another point, I do not think you can find the same number of unemployed stokers as you can of unemployed bluejackets. Well, then I think my hon. Friend the Member for York City will admit that on board ship, even when not in action, there are a large number of men whose duty it is simply to carry ammunition to and fro, besides servants and others, and, consequently, the House must not forget that the actual number of bluejackets required for working a ship, and for working the torpedoes, is not so large a proportion of the whole as would at first strike one. That means, Sir, that we have 22,000 in the Reserve who are actually taught gunnery and all the higher duties, which is a large proportion—not too large, perhaps an insufficient proportion—of the men who man a ship. Therefore there is another view of the question besides that of looking on the active list and comparing it with the number of the Reserves. Now, Sir, with reference to the results. I am assured, from the latest information, that if we desired to mobilise we could get 12,000 men in a fortnight. [Lord C. BERESFORD: "At home?"] Yes. If we made a proclamation to mobilise we should be able to get 12,000 men in a fortnight. It it very difficult I know, but it is a matter in which I take great interest. Then, again, I have been asked a question as to the new seamen class. Well, with regard to that class, I have been disappointed with the result of the first six months; but as every month has gone on since it has shown apparently that the entries into the Reserve, which at first 258 were few, are now improving, and the figure is now 1,850, winch, total I mentioned in my statement had now reached nearly 2,000. It goes on from the first month of May. There were entries in May of about 50, in June 10, in July 50, in October 168, in November 232, in December 571, in January 349, in February 284, and the first half of March, is very satisfactory. The House will, of course, understand that there 2,000 men are bound to go to sea for six months before they leave the Reserve. [Lord C. BERESFORD: Will the right hon. Gentleman give us the age of that 2,000?] I have not got the particulars, but I may say that we have lowered the age somewhat, because we find that as they get older they do not join so readily. We lowered the ago with this result. Of course, it does not follow that these young men will be able to go to sea immediately; they have first to go through a certain amount of training in the batteries, and then they will go to sea. That is the system; and about 600 have already volunteered to go to sea, and a certain number have been sent to the Mediterranean, and a certain number also to the Channel Squadron. Of course, we cannot send them to distant stations because of the six months' regulation. I cannot give the House the actual figures as to what I should wish, but if this experiment succeeds I shall be inclined to propose an increase in the number of Reserves, because I am just as anxious as any hon. Member can be to go on increasing the Reserve, and I have kept my word with regard to that, even at the cost of reducing the number on paper. We have not reduced the actual number, and the numbers are now standing at 2,000 who will go to sea in place of the 2,000 who have retired, and the number will be the same as it was before, and that is, I consider, a fair bargain. [An hon. MEMBER: "Will the hon. Gentleman tell us about the Marine Reserve?"] I have gone carefully into the question of the Marino Reserve, and I am preparing for it now, but there are many difficulties with regard to it. The matter requires very considerable discretion, but I am putting it forward, and I am rather disappointed time I shall not be able to go into the Marine Reserve question just now. With 259 regard to the Marine Reserve pensions, of course, they are not adequate, and there are some points which are more or less connected with this subject, more particularly, for instance, the rations and two or three other matters. I think I have dealt—I hope at not too great a length—with the main and broader questions which were raised.
*SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, N.E., Clitheroe)
One point upon which I asked for information was with regard to Admiral Tracey's Committee on the education of young officers.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for raising this question. Inquiries are going on, and the Committee are approaching the end of their sittings—and they have had a good many sittings—and they have gone into the question, but the Report is not yet to hand.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD (York)
Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that he does not wish to inform the Committee of the total number of Reserves which the Admiralty think is requisite when the complements are made up in the future?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
I prefer to wait till the scheme is worked out, and till I know the various requirements of the different classes. It is a question upon which I should prefer to withhold my opinion. I do not see any advantage in stating up to what number we should work in the Reserve until I know what can be done, and what are the possibilities of the case, and how the prospects are likely to turn out.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
It is not my intention to address the Committee at much length, but one or two remarks which have fallen from the First Lord of the Admiralty in his very interesting speech have tended largely to add to the information at present in possesssion of the House. The First Lord referred in some detail to a comparison of ships—of battleships—between this 260 country and the two countries which have been compared by successive Governments to ourselves—namely, France and Russia, which I had instituted on a former occasion. Sir, the comparison was not as if were of my choosing, because it was a comparison directly invited by the Returns which the Government laid before the House.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
I think it was the right hon. Gentleman himself who invited the first Return.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
The first two Returns were made upon the Motion of Mr. Shaw-Lefevre, and the last Return was made upon my Motion. It is not only natural, but inevitable, that any comparison which we make with our inferior knowledge must be based upon the Admiralty's calculations, and must be based upon the Returns which the Admiralty lay before us. Of course, the Admiralty have set up under successive Governments this particular standard, and successive Ministers have alluded to these particular Powers as being the next two strongest naval Powers, and we have, of course, constantly pointed out that the Admiralty do not appear by their own figures to possess that superiority which, on their own statements, appears to be necessary. Well, Sir, the Return of 1893, to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded to, immediately followed a Debate in this House, in which there was a Vote of Censure moved from the Conservative benches against the Liberal Government of that day for not having kept up to this standard in their battleship building, compared with the combined fleets of France and Russia. And taking that statement of what was admittedly, so far as the Conservative Party was concerned, an unsatisfactory fulfilment of that standard, according to the Admiralty's own figures, we do not possess to-day that standard of superiority which the Conservative Party have previously declared to be necessary. I pointed out that the number of ships built by ourselves, as compared with the number built by France and Russia, was in the proportion of 7 to 11. Although it has been pointed out that we have 261 larger ships, and that the tonnage has been increased, it is obvious that for all purposes a comparison of numbers is one which, must be kept before the House. Well, now, the right hon. Gentleman has guaranteed a new Return, but it is not yet in the possession of the House; but we shall no doubt have it shortly, and we shall then be able to compare the figures for ourselves. The right hon. Gentleman has given us to-night some fresh interesting figures upon a more authoritative basis than any we have had before, and we can compare them for ourselves; and he has shown that the new figures, since the period of the last Return, will compare more favourably so far as numbers go. So far as the numbers go, the proportion is 15 battleships of French and Russia combined to 14 British battleships within the period named. This is almost an equality as regards numbers, but even that proportion, compared with what the Conservative Party in December, 1893, admitted to be necessary, cannot now be regarded as satisfactory. I wish to make one remark upon the question of armour. The right hon. Gentleman to-night twice alluded to the strike in connection with this question of supplying armour, and he put forward this excuse for net fulfilling our expectations with regard to the preparation of ships—namely, that he could not always get the armour needed in time; and he also put forward a rear or two ago, long before the strike came into existence, the same excuse.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
I did not say that. I distinctly stated two causes; the strike was one, and the new processes the other.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
Of course, the right hon. Gentleman has been—as anyone in this House must be aware who has any technical knowledge at his disposal—a little vague with regard to these new processes in the preparation of armour. He has spoken of the new armour six inches Hock being equivalent, to the old armour of 10 inches. Of course, there has been continual change in the armour. We have been informed by the Admiralty, and we have all read of the constant changes which are con- 262 tinually going on in the processes applied, and which have been in existence for some years. There has been a constant improvement in the plant and machinery required by the great armour-producing firms to make these changes, but, Sir, what I have always contended is that the House can hardly accept these grounds for not preparing ships as readily as they otherwise would be prepared by looking ahead. We must know what our needs will be, and by giving out orders in good time, by guaranteeing a permanency of employment to produce a constant supply of armour, we can get sufficient for the ships that are to be built. The same reason used to be given as regards guns. Ships used to be kept waiting for guns, for improvement in guns, and the changes in the machinery required for turning out those guns. Now we are unable to build what we should otherwise build because of the absence of slips on which to build the ships, and sometimes on account of the absence of armour for the ships. I cannot help thinking that the ships would not be kept waiting, and the programme not fall short on account of this deficiency of armour, if the Admiralty looked further ahead. Another point I wish to make concerns the Colonial matters with which the right hon. Gentleman concluded his speech. He defended himself against some remarks which have been made with regard to the agreement with the Australian Colonies. But clearly, Sir, when he says it was improper to mix up business with jubilation, he should have remembered that there were discussions upon this subject, and the business was to that extent mixed up with jubilation. The matter was discussed between the Government and the representatives of the Australian Colonies who were over here last year, and, reading accounts of these conferences, I should hardly think that a very determined effort was made by the Government to point out to the Australian Governments the extreme difficulty of arrangement as it now stands. It is undoubtedly a paralysing arrangement, and one which the right hon. Gentleman himself must regret, and which he must feel hampers the mobilisation of the Fleet under the control of the Admiralty, and which is an arrangement he would not willingly accept with regard to any other portion of the Fleet, One of the 263 Australian Colonies seems to have refused to come into that arrangement as it now stands, and I cannot help thinking that something may be done by addressing to the Australian Colonies a free and frank statement of the Admiralty's views on this question, because we all have the same object in view, and that is the supremacy of the British flag in the South Seas in case of war, and the only question is a scientific one as to how that supremacy can be best attained. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will have the support not only of everybody in this country, but of a great number of people in Australia who have begun to think upon this question, if he tries to make it clear to the Australian Governments that we have the same object in view, and that this will be better attained by what has been suggested than by the arrangement which is at present adopted. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of the last Debate, made a statement with regard to this matter of the Reserves, and I have put a Question on the Paper upon that subject, and if he prefers to deal with it in answer to that Question, I will leave it there and not say anything about it now. I cannot help thinking that in one Colony at least it would be possible to try, with every prospect of success, a Colonial Reserve—namely, in Newfoundland. The right hon. Gentleman appears to be falling back upon the fishing resources of this country for his Reserves. Fishermen are to be trained at sea for men-of-war. There is only one Colony where there is an excellent, hardy fishing population, but ill-paid and numerous, and there are local circumstances which make it probable that a very large number of fishermen will be induced to accept service of the kind he refers to. If any attempt is to be made to bring the Colonies into line in connection with the Naval Reserves, that place offers the best prospects of success. It is for that reason that I ask him whether the Government have entered into any negotiations with the Government of that Colony with the idea of training fishermen there for the Naval Reserve.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
That is a matter which is under consideration now. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that 264 this Colony offers the best chances of success in that direction. The matter of the Newfoundland fishermen has been, brought before me once or twice before. There are no doubt great administrative difficulties to be overcome, but I will, give the matter my best consideration.
§ MR. EDWARD MORTON (Devonport)
Although this is a general discussion on the Navy, yet I propose to confine myself entirely to the subject-matter of this Vote. This Vote deals with the wages, etc., of officers, seamen, boys, coastguards, and Royal Marines. Now, in what I have to say I shall perhaps seem to be basing my argument upon the question of justice, but I shall be able to show before I sit down that that is not the real basis upon which I shall go, but I am basing what I say upon the national interest and the interest of the Navy itself. Sir, we have in this Vote the case of boys. Now, I cannot help thinking that, at any rate, those Members of this Committee who are not experienced, upon the matter, and the country at large, is too apt to forget one very salient point with regard to the British Navy, and that is that it takes twice as long to make a British seaman as to build are ironclad, and therefore the question of training our seamen is one in which we want to look further ahead than even in the matter of shipbuilding. When we are considering how many boys ought to be in course of training, we ought not to consider the number upon the basis of the total number of our Navy which we consider satisfactory and proper for the present time, but we should base it upon keeping up the number of the Navy as it is likely to be required five or six years hence. Now, with regard to that, the right hon. Gentleman has told us in his opening statement some days ago that if he could get 10,000 more boys he would not know where to put them. Well, Sir, it seems to me that that is rather a serious statement, and that it is one that ought to engage the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty as a matter of the utmost possible seriousness, because, after all, this is the only way we have of filling up the numbers of the Navy otherwise than by having a thoroughly efficient, satisfactory, and numerous Reserve. I 265 do not know whether it will be acknowledged by everyone, but it does seem to one not an expert upon this matter that it must be the case that you cannot get equally satisfactory seamen by filling them up with the Reserve as you can get by having the boys trained as boys and going through the whole course of becoming seamen in Her Majesty's Navy. However that may be, it does appear that even with regard to the Reserves it is not a satisfactory body to fill up an emergency rapidly and to provide the number of seamen required. To one who is not an expert it would appear that the weakness of the Reserves is the weakest part of the Navy as it at present exists, and, in fact, I should have thought myself that it would have been necessary for us to have recruits numbering at least the number that are actually calculated upon as at present to be necessary. However that may be, there are other matters in the Navy. There are other classes of men in the Navy who, for various reasons, consider themselves not sufficiently well treated, and this is the point I want to make. We find, as a result of this, that the Navy is deficient in these particular classes. I will take, first of all, one class, the grievances of which, I think, are largely misunderstood. I refer to the naval shipwrights. They complain of this fact, that when they join a ship afloat they do so generally at the rating of leading seamen only, whereas the fitters, and almost all other classes of artisans, including pattern-makers, moulders, blacksmiths, and so on, all join with the rating of chief petty officers. They have separate grievances. They start with only 4s., and rise to 4s. 9d. Compare him with the fitter. He starts pith 5s. 6d. a day, and rises to 7s. 6d. That seems to me a very considerable difference. The Naval shipwrights complain that they are required to scrub the decks, and cook, and run and clean, and do other things which the ordinary seaman does. The Naval officers protest strongly against the idea of making the bluejacket do menial work. I would not be a party, for a moment, to asking the bluejackets to do menial work for the shipwrights. I regard the bluejackets as the very flower of the whole of the British seamen. But that is not the point. The bluejacket is a man who takes a pride 266 in the fact that he can do everything; he is brought up to do everything. But the artisan who joins from outside has never been accustomed to scrubbing and cooking, and kindred work. He does not understand it, and he does not like it. It seems to me that it is not putting the bluejacket below the artisan to relieve the latter of duties which he is not accustomed to, and does not like. This is a matter that is becoming one of national importance; it is really a matter of national importance that the Naval shipwrights should have some of their claims looked at with a more kindly eye. It is a matter of fact that the Admiralty had some difficulty in getting Naval shipwrights, but in all cases where there has been a demand the trades union leaders have always been willing to help the Admiralty to get such men. I do not mean to say that there is a bargain between the trades union leaders and the Admiralty; they are the best people to go to, and find out the men. Another matter of importance is this: A man may have borne an excellent character for 19 years of his service, but if his conduct has not been good in the last year he does not get his full gratuity and pension. I do not know the reason of that, but it does not seem to me to be in accordance either with logic or common sense. The last point I wish to bring before the notice of the Committee is the case of the warrant officers, which I regard as the most important case of all. A man who joins the Navy as a boy has the choice of leaving at the age of 28, or rejoining it. A man who becomes a warrant officer at 28 or 30 remains without promotion until he is 50. He has therefore 20 years to wait for any improvement in his condition. I should like to ask the Committee to contrast his case with the case of a man who joins the Army as a private soldier. When he becomes a warrant officer he does not stop there. He can become a quartermaster, and if a quartermaster likes he can get the rank of a lieutenant, a captain, or a major, and there is nothing in the world to prevent him going higher. The only thing that practically prevents him going higher is getting too old; superannuation then comes into force. The case of the warrant officer becomes all the more striking when 267 we remember the chances that are given to a soldier in the Army. The same thing applies to the Marines. I hope I shall not be misunderstood as having stated that I think the Marines are too well off. Everyone knows what a practical body of men they are, and to treat them worse than the soldier in the Regular Army would be a monstrous idea. It works out in this way, that a Marine may retire as a major, and have a pension of over £200 a year, whereas the warrant officer cannot get more than £150. The effect of this is far more disastrous upon the Navy than hon. Members realise. I know it is often said that, after all, we have no difficulty in recruiting for the Navy but we have great difficulty in recruiting for the Army. It is also said that the Navy offers more advantages than the Army. If you inquire into the reasons which induce men to join the Navy as against the Army, you will find they are many. In the first place, when a man joins the Navy he joins as a boy, and most boys have a sentimental liking for the sea. Not only so, but the parent knows that when the boy is taken off his hands he gets as good an education as any lad in the British Empire, and that he will be taught a trade at the expense of the nation. As a matter of fact, when a man retires after ten years from the Navy he can always get employment. Those are the reasons why the Navy finds no difficulty in getting recruits, whereas the Army does. This is a very important matter for the nation. The returns for 1889–90–91 show that exactly 33 per cent. of the men in the Navy did not rejoin after their ten years of service. That means a terrible loss to the British taxpayer, as well as to the Navy. It means £300 to make an able seaman, and you do not get full value out of a man until he is an able seaman at the age of 21. You get seven years' service out of him till he reaches the age of 28. Surely, the second ten years, from 28 to 38, are the years of greatest value in a man's life. We lose one-third of our men at the end of ten years, and only two-thirds come on again. I remember some years ago a very striking statement made by the Secretary of the American Navy. He said there was no need whatever for training ships for the American Navy, 268 because they could get the finest material in the world from men who had served ten years in the British Navy; so that we are spending £300 a year to provide men for the American Navy. They pay their men a far higher wage—an advantage which is appreciated by men who have served ten years in the British Navy. Within the last two years I have been told by Americans, and I have seen it in the American Press, that they could not depend upon, their sailors in a war with this country because they were all British seamen. If something can be done to induce the men to re-engage, the country will gain both in the way of the value of the men's service and in the way of money. If promotion could be given, upon these lines, a career would be opened up to these men, and that no doubt would have the effect of inducing more of them to re-engage than at present for a second term. My hon. Friend the junior Member for Davenport has calculated that the cost of this would be somewhere about £2,000 a year, but an official Estimate, by either the Treasury or the Admiralty, gave the amount, as £3,000. But supposing it were not £3,000, but £6,000. In 1891 about 1,200 men left the Navy and did not re-engage at the end of the first ten months. Supposing we could induce 40 of these 1,000 men to re-engage—and surely there would be a prospect of at least 40—wo would save at least half the initial cost of training them. Calculating the cost of training at £150 for each man, that represents a saving of £6,000 a year, or twice the amount of the Admiralty Estimate of the cost of the change. The assumption is that only 40 men will re-engage, but my expectation is that it is more likely that 400 will be induced to re-engage, and we will thus effect an enormous saving in the cost we have to enter upon over and over again, instead of only once every 20 years for each man, as ought to-be the case. Considering the amount of intelligence and of real learning these warrant officers possess, the training they have gone through, their ability and their extraordinary efficiency as a body of men, considering also this terrible leakage that goes on in the Navy, I believe we could do nothing to improve the personnel of the Navy more than could be done by opening up a 269 career to warrant officers, and so facilitating promotion.
*ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
The speeches that have been made by hon. Members who do not belong in the Naval service, and have acquired their technical knowledge by hard reading and study, only confirm the impression I have always held that dockyard boroughs are much better represented by civilian Members of Parliament than by Naval men. It is not that we Service Members do not know our business, but it is much better that we should have clever civilian Members compelled to study these important questions. Some of the remarks of the hon. Member fur Devonport amused me, for they showed that he had not looked into the question of how discipline and order are maintained on the high seas. A captain has, in the interests of the safety of his ship, supreme and absolute control over the people on board, and if the hon. Gentleman were a passenger in a steamer, and defied the captain's authority, the captain has power to put him in irons. But there were some observations of the hon. Member with which I cordially agree. The hon. Member spoke of the desire of the warrant officers for another step in rank, and he was quite justified in raising that point. It was raised by hon. Members on this side of the House when the present Secretary of Slate for India was First Lord of the Admiralty. We got a kind of promise, a very amiable answer, that the matter would be considered with care. I believe it was considered with care. But what the warrant officers asked, and what we urged, was that a higher rank should be given them to meet their aspirations, and we suggested the rank of fleet-gunner. The matter is not new, and I am not sorry the hon. Member has pressed it upon the First Lord of the Admiralty. The hon. Member speaks of 33 per cent of the seamen not re-engaging. Well, Sir, we all regret that. I pressed it upon the attention of a former First Lord of the Admiralty, and, so far as I understood him, my right, hon. Friend the present First Lord of the Admiralty, in his statement last year, undertook to intro- 270 duce some process by which such men should be retained in the Naval Reserve. But, Sir, I hold that we get back again the best of these men who take their discharge at the end of twelve years. They are allowed twelve months to make up their minds, and, although I am not versed in details, I believe a great number, possibly two-thirds, rejoin the service.
§ MR. EDWARD MORTON
The returns for 1891 and the two previous years, from which I quoted, set forth, first, those who left the service and did not rejoin immediately; secondly, the proportion who did not rejoin after one year; and there was still 33 per cent. who did not rejoin at all.
I agree with the hon. Member's argument, and I hope the Admiralty will be able to find some remedy. I was somewhat amused by the points my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport raised with regard to shipwrights and men of that class being called upon to clean the decks of vessels. Sir, "Cleanliness is next to godliness," and every man who joins a man-of-war should take his share in keeping his ship clean. Officers are not too proud to walk the decks with their trousers turned up and shoes and stockings off to assist in the cleaning, and I have never heard of any sensible man complaining that it was a degradation of his position that he should be called upon to assist in keeping the ship clean. A man making such a complaint, would only be laughed at by sensible men. The hon. Member has spoken about trades union leaders advising shipwrights to join the dockyards and not to enter the Naval service. Men who give such advice are not patriotic, and I dismiss them as not worth a moment's consideration. If the shipwrights are not contented—and I know they are not, and neither are the carpenters—I hope the First Lord of the Admiralty will take note of the observations of the hon. Member and have these grievances remedied. Coming now to other matters, I wish first to say that the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean made a remark which grated on my ears. In reply to the First 271 Lord of the Admiralty's remark about armoured ships, the hon. Member spoke of ships waiting for their guns. Sir, I want to remind the hon. Member of what occurred when the present Government took office in 1885. It was then found that six battleships were waiting for guns, not because of any delay in gun-making, but because a responsible Minister, a Minister of great power, had run his pen through the gun Vote in the Army Estimates for successive years. In the result the guns were not ordered, and the ships were waiting for them. But, Sir, that policy has been changed, the gun Vote was transferred from the Army to the Navy Estimates in 1886. We have heard nothing more about ships waiting for their guns, and so the hon. Member's remarks on that head do not apply. I have now a grievance of my own to ventilate. I think the time has come when the coastguard men ought to have an extra payment of twopence on re-engagement at the end of their twelve years' service. These men are in that service by their own choice. They are most valuable men; they have given up their first or second-class rating, and after twelve years have expired they ought to have the extra twopence added to their pay as if they had remained on a ship. The coastguard men feel their grievance deeply and bitterly, and I myself presented a memorial on the subject, signed by 70 Members of Parliament, to Lord Spencer when he was First Lord of the Admiralty. Lord Spencer promised that the whole matter should be considered, and I suppose it has shared the fate of most things that are promised consideration. This is a very real and substantial grievance, and I hope the First Lord of the Admiralty will not put it aside, but will consider if he cannot grant the demands of these coastguard men. I hold in my hand a document signed by a late Admiral who commanded the Reserves, in which he speaks of the high training of the coastguard, and enumerates 30 different duties they have to perform, including wrecks on shore, the charge of lifesaving apparatus, fisheries, signals at Lloyd's stations, and many others too numerous to mention. Surely, Sir, it is worth doing something to get rid of these grievances and bring contentment to a 272 body of valuable men. Another grievance I have to ventilate relates to the old line of navigating staff-commanders. I draw attention to this because it is a serious matter. These staff-commanders are a dying-out line, and they thought they ought to be allowed to die out. At present they are entitled to retire under the rules at 50, but when the time comes they are not allowed to retire; they are kept on for another five years till they are 55. The argument is that if you see fit, for the good of the Service, to retain these men you should give them an increase of pay for the additional five years, as in the case of the Engineers. They are heart-broken. The Admiralty decided 20 years ago, to do away with the line. Why then, in the name of justice, are they now being forced to remain against their will, and when they are crushed and broken in spirit? The juniors, who were educated for many years to take their places, have been allowed to retire as commanders at 48; and this is, I think, a grievance that ought to be considered, for I believe it to be a real one. I do not know whether these facts are within the personal knowledge of the present First Lord of the Admiralty, but I hope he will do me the honour not to give my application the go by, for I have no motive but getting justice done, and a grievance remedied, and I speak for others who cannot speak for themselves. Another matter is the introduction of the supplementary lieutenant from the mercantile marine. It is a very sound and proper policy, but it makes this grievance the greater, because, by the rules of the Service, these lieutenants, would, in war, take command of the ship before men who were serving the Queen probably before they were born. The right hon. Gentleman has given us some information about the Marines, and he says he had in view the formation of a Marine Reserve. I want upon that to say just one word about the Marines. We have it on good information that a large body of Marines in the Fleet Reserve in harbour at Portsmouth or else-where are really wasting their time. They are deteriorating in that service, and would be better in Marine barracks under their own officers, going through military drill. Of course, I express no 273 opinion of my own on this point; I only express the opinion of others. An argument against confining them in barracks was that they were deprived of their full ration, while by going into the Fleet Reserve they got their full ration. I hope we shall have a satisfactory answer on this matter, for I venture to think that the Marines in the Fleet Reserve would be much better withdrawn and sent to barracks to drill under their own officers. I know their own officers are grieved at heart to see them deteriorating. I think there is nothing more I need trouble the Committee upon, and I apologise for having taken up so much of its time.
*MR. M. VAUGHAN DAVIES (Cardiganshire)
Owing to the answer I got from the right hon. Gentleman earlier in the evening with regard to coastguard stations on the west coast of Wales, I wish again to bring the subject before his notice and that of the Committee. I voted with the rest of the House, with the greatest pleasure, for the £23,000,000 which the right hon. Gentleman asked for to put the British Navy in the highest state of efficiency; but I still think it necessary to urge that the coast defences should be put into a proper state, and I cannot help thinking that to leave one hundred miles of the west coast of Wales without any protection by means of telephonic communication between the coastguard stations is hardly consistent with common sense. Now, as to Cardigan Bay, vessels of all sizes can go into it. We had a fleet there of 10 ships, the largest in the British Navy, and they were anchored within a mile and a half of the shore and of my own house. We have a roadstead in the bay, to which vessels can go in a gale, so that it would be an important refuge in emergency or war. I think there should be a continuation of the coastguard service all round the coast of England, Scotland, and Wales, and I wish to know whether the right hon. Gentleman will give this question his favourable consideration. We Welshmen can go back to a time when the French were allowed to land on the coast. Luckily, the old ladies in their red coats were sufficient to scare them, but we have no desire that anything 274 of the kind should occur again. But I wish to bring before the right hon. Gentleman a material matter, and to ask whether he does not think that it is essential that the whole coast should have a continuous coastguard service all round it, with telephonic communication, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give me a most favourable answer.
§ LORD C. BERESFORD
I do not know, Mr. Lowther, whether I should be in order in snaking some remarks on the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty with regard to the Reserve.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I do not think that the noble Lord will be in order in referring to anything outside the Vote under consideration, but I think that he would be in order so long as he confined himself to a reply to anything which fell from the First Lord.
§ LORD C. BERESFORD
Well, I will not go outside anything the First Lord has said. I am delighted to hear the right hon. Gentleman say he is going to take into his consideration the question of getting Reserves from the Colonies, and I hope he will send proper ships out there to get men to join and learn their drill. I am certain it will be of immense help to the Service in the event of our going to war.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
I did not say the Colonies generally. Of course, that opens a broader question. So far as I spoke to-day, it was with reference to the Newfoundland fishermen.
§ LORD C. BERESFORD
I am sorry for that, because I myself have been rather disturbed by reading in the Press that the Colonies have made very liberal offers with regard to this question, and I do not think they have been treated quite kindly or sympathetically by the Admiralty. If the First Lord tries the experiment with the Newfoundland fishermen, I hope it will be successful, and that he will then deal with the matter more generally. There is one more point as to which I should like to ask the 275 First Lord, and that is with regard to his answer to what I have the honour of saying on the Vote. Ever since we have built iron-clad ships they have been hung up for want of armour, or rather the ships have been delayed for armour. Therefore, it is not a new thing; but I venture to say that it shows a want of business-like arrangements at the Admiralty. We know this perfectly well. Will the First Lord say what steps will be taken to secure that the supply of armour to our ships shall be better in future? I am assured from Sheffield that the armour could be sent down to each ship as the Admiralty desired, and I think it is a most important thing for the country to consider that we are £800,000 behind what we ought to be in construction of ships owing to the want of armour. I understand the First Lord to say he would like to spend the money, but he cannot get the armour; and here is a difference of opinion which is very important, for the manufacturers say they can produce the armour so that shipbuilding may go on. I hope the First Lord will be able to give us another explanation.
§ LORD C. BERESFORD
Well, but a business-like department would see that this sort of thing did not occur again, because it is a most important thing, and a thing that can be remedied if properly looked into. Now, Mr. Lowther, with regard to the Question concerning which I have placed a Motion on the Paper, to reduce the Vote by £100. I am going to bring forward some matters, if the Committee will kindly listen, which I think I can show to be grievances; and I am perfectly certain that if the House of Commons knows these things, and the country knows them, they will help the First Lord of the Admiralty to put them right. I do not regard them so much as injustices to individuals, though they are that, but I do regard them as being detrimental to the Service to which I have the honour to belong; and we know that the only place where such grievances can be properly ventilated is on the floor 276 of this House. I would like to point out, first, the unjust and unfair manner in which the executive line is treated, owing to there having been no agitation in the country or in this House with regard to the men on half-pay. The House does not know that the Royal Navy is the only Service in the whole world, or profession of any sort, kind, or description, where a man cannot have supreme command by his own knowledge, his own ability, and his own aptitude for that profession. That is to say, that when once made a captain he has to remain at that rank, and cannot get beyond it except by seniority. If the Government and the country choose to go on with that system, they, at any rate, ought to be fair to him about his pay. I will begin with the commanders. They get £30 a month, and the outside pay they can ever get is £36. Well, I do not complain very much of that, but I think it is most unfair that a man should never get any increase of that amount, no matter how long he stays in the Service. I say the men ought to get progressive pay, according to the time they work for the State. Every other line in the Service does get progressive pay. Now I will turn to the lieutenants, who are the backbone of the Service. They have all the heavy work, and are the men we trust to, both for the comfort and discipline of the ship. A lieutenant's pay is £15 a month; after eight years' service he gets £3 more, and after 12 years' £3 more. But unless he is a specialist, a torpedo or gunnery lieutenant, he cannot get another shilling, no matter how long he remains in the Service. At this moment there are a great number of lieutenants on the list of over 12 years' service who can never get more than £21 a month. As I have said, every other branch of the Service does get progressive pay, and it is fair they should do so, but they got it principally by agitation, both in the country and in this House. Engineers, surgeons, paymasters, naval instructors, and chaplains all get progressive pay according to the work they do for the State. That is to say, some of them after three years, some after four years, and some after two years, get an increase in their pay, according to the time they have served. Now I, for many years, have advocated this question about the lieutenants. Ten 277 years ago, when I was at the Admiralty, I wrote Minute. My Minutes were considered rather impertinent. Well, I would stick to them, and my Minute on this subject was one calling the attention of the Board to the fact that it appeared to be the case that whenever an officer got into the Admiralty he forgot all about the men below him. I wrote a very strong Minute, calling attention to the fact that lieutenants, after eight years, did not get extra, pay, although all other officers in the Service did get progressive pay, and I suggested that they should get, every three years, an increase of 3s. a day. Well, the Admiralty did not approve of it; but after considerable discussion and argument I managed to get them an extra 2s. a day after 12 years, and that is all they get at this moment. Now there is another point, and that is the question of compulsory half-pay; and if the country knew about it they would regard it as a scandal. The minimum half-pay of a commander is £.12 15s., and the maximum £15 a month. The minimum half-pay of lieutenants is only £6, and the maximum half-pay £12 15s. The First Lord will probably say there are only 38 lieutenants at this moment on half-pay, but I say it is a very bad thing for the Service. It shows that the country is so short of lieutenants that they are obliged to employ every one of them. It is a very bad thing for the Service that a lieutenant should always be on board ship, and always employed, without having some opportunity of getting a knowledge of the world. It is very necessary that he should have some acquaintance with political affairs, both at home and abroad, for he may be sent to a foreign station, where a gunboat will settle a matter involving peace or war. There, I think, lieutenants ought to have a great deal more liberty than they are allowed in the interest of the Service. Now take the question of captains. Directly a commander is made a captain he is put compulsorily on half-pay, and all he can have is £200 a year. What is the result? In many cases, commanders, knowing this, shrink from being promoted to be captains. Very many men have done that to my knowledge. They go into the coastguard, and end their career in the coastguard, from which they can retire on almost, the same pay as a cap- 278 tain. I say this is very bad for the Service. A great many remarks are made in the democratic Press about having a fair day's wage for a fair day's work, but in the executive line of the Royal Navy they do not get a fair day's pay for the work they do for the State. The question of admirals is another point which will come under this Vote. I think it is very much to the detriment of the Service that you never promote a man to the rank of admiral—I will not say until he is past his work, but until he is long past his prime. I will take my own case. I have just been made an admiral at the age of 52. I may think I am as good a man as I was at 40, but, I am not. My point is this: I do not mind an admiral or a general being old, but my point is that he should begin his career as an admiral or general when he is young, and get his experience in that rank, and not begin at the age of 52. And even then he is not qualified for a command. In my case I shall not get a command until I am 55. Well, being an independent man to a great extent, I do not know that I shall care for it. I have been a very lucky man, I am bound to say, but at the age of 40 I—and it is very much the case with my brother officers—would have taken any command the Admiralty like to give me. See what a serious matter it is in this way. Take the sister Service by way of comparison. Lord Wolseley, who commanded in the year 1882, I think, for the fourth time, as Commander-in-Chief, was five years younger than I am now, and many officers of the Army can, by their energy and ability, get to a position of supreme command. But in the Navy it is not so, and I think it is very bad for the Service, because, depend upon it, if you get any man in command of the Fleet in an action that may settle it campaign, and even the existence of the Empire, who has lost his nerve, or is in that condition we all get into when we are a little too old, it, will be a serious thing for the country. You want young admirals and generals, with nerve and all the readiness of resource and energy, and that idea of not regarding consequences which is inseparable from youth but leaves us in our old age. With regard to the question of leave, I hope the First Lord will give the Committee some satisfactory assurances. I may say that 279 the Royal Navy has the greatest confidence in my right hon. Friend. They believe he wants to do the best he can for the Navy; but when I represent this case to the Committee it will be apparent that there is the greatest injustice to the executive line, simply because they have never agitated. I believe very much in agitation. I know I always pay the man who "duns" me most for the payment of my bills. You always find that when people who have a grievance keep continually bringing it forward and thrashing it out in public, they are always the first to get it settled. With reference to the question of leave, an officer coming home is entitled to six weeks' leave, but if he gets ill on the way through hard work in his profession and goes into hospital—this is what generally happens, because there are few rich men in the Service—the authorities deduct the period he is in hospital out of his leave. [Mr. H. J. GLADSTONE: "Oh, oh!"] I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. It is an absolute fact. [Mr. H. J. GLADSTONE: I did not deny it. The expression I used was "Oh!"] Then it was not a denial, but a shock. I am glad there is somebody in the House who sees what a monstrous thing this is. It is a fact that if an officer goes into hospital through illness contracted during his work in the Service, and happens to remain in hospital for six weeks, he has to go to his ship immediately, for he is not entitled to any more leave. It is time such a system was changed. I say that a man should have one month's full pay leave for every year he is abroad. It is not much to ask. Every officer on board a ship on returning from abroad is entitled to six weeks' leave on full pay, whether he has been away two, three, or four years, excepting the captain or commander, who the very moment the ship comes home is placed on half-pay. That, again, is a most unjust regulation, and I cannot conceive who could have instituted it. And it must be remembered that a captain does not get even his half - pay until he has closed the whole of the accounts of his ship. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty will tell us that this, as well as the other grievances which I have brought before his notice, is going 280 to be altered. In the Army it is possible for an officer to get six months' leave on full pay for private business, and to get from six to 12 months' leave on full pay if he becomes sick abroad in the Service. It is quite right that he should have this leave, but things in the Navy are totally different. For instance, if a naval officer receives promotion he is sent home, another officer taking his place, and because he is promoted, and will therefore shortly be put on half-pay, the Government make him pay one-third of the cost of his passage home. I think that is a monstrous thing; it is neither fair to the officers nor the Service, and is certainly not likely to be conducive to that contentment which ought to obtain in all ranks of the Navy. Some hon. Members may naturally ask why these things have not been known before. To their credit, the executive line have never agitated, and I do not believe they over will. There is a more or less hereditary objection in the Service to agitating about these things; but that is no reason why, when one of their number comes into this House, he should not respectfully bring these matters before the attention of the Government, in the hope that they will be put right. The executive line have not agitated, neither have they gone on strike; but that is no reason why they should abate their legitimate claims. They can only trust to the loyalty of their superiors—which, as I have pointed out, was not very valuable at the time I was in the Admiralty—and to the sense of justice of this House and the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty. Owing to the present condition of things as to the promotion, pay, sick leave, and other matters, many of our best men are leaving to join private firms, as they contend there is no chance of getting on in the Service. Brain and ability are not worth anything in the Navy, for the moment an officer gets on the captain's list he goes up by seniority. It does not matter how valuable or valueless the officer above him in seniority may be, that officer has to take his turn to become a British Admiral in command of the Fleet. Many of these men, as I have said, go into civil employment in consequence. Let me now turn to the question of warrant officers, which was raised by the hon. 281 Member for Devonport. I take a special interest in this subject, because recognise that everything that is for the benefit of the warrant officers is for the benefit of the whole lower deck. Some time ago—two years ago I think it was—the First Lord of the Admiralty did make a concession to the gunners of 1s. 6d. a day, but no concession was made to the boatswains and carpenters. The First Lord of the Admiralty said it was very difficult to increase the pay of any particular branch in the Service without appearing to be unfair to the other branches; but here is a case in which he has increased the pay of one class of warrant officer and not increased the pay of the other two. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take this matter into his consideration. Then there is the question which the hon. Gentleman brought forward of promotion from the ranks. I quite agree with what has already been said, that it is very difficult to find men in the Royal Navy that are suitable to be promoted from the ranks. The difficulty at the present time is the lack of education among the men. That is caused by the fact that we have a bad system. If you were to let parents know that if their sons were a little better educated they stood a chance of being promoted to the quarter-deck, I think they would take care that their sons were better educated. You do not make a man a warrant officer much before the age of 25 or 28, and by that time, owing to the life he has led with regard to education, he would find himself not so qualified to take charge of a ship as a lieutenant who has been much higher educated; but it is absolute nonsense to suggest that among the 60,000 bluejackets in the Navy there is not one who could be made an officer. While I acknowledge the difficulties in the way, I contend that some plan ought to be formulated by which we could promote men from the lower deck, just as is done from the ranks of the Army. At the present time there are 578 officers serving in the Army who joined as privates, and yet we have only two lieutenants in the Royal Navy who joined on the lower deck. The comparison is not satisfactory. Then there is another point. Just in the same way that quartermasters in the Army get the rank of lieutenant, so 282 warrant officers in the Navy should get the rank of lieutenant when they are performing duties which require them to be on shore. I quite agree with the hon. Member for Devonport when he said that there were many positions in which these officers could be employed. They could be employed in connection with the reserve ammunition stores abroad, which are entirely managed by military men, and in many other ways. The fact that military men are employed often leads to delay, as was evidenced in the case of the ships I commanded in the Mediterranean. I sent my requisition in for ammunition, and was supplied with the wrong ammunition, because the man in charge did not know the ship nor the ammunition. If he had been a Naval warrant officer this mistake would not have happened. I also consider that a warrant officer should be eligible for promotion to chief in 18 instead of 24 years, if deserving, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will think about that. I should like to suggest that warrant officers should start at 6s. instead of 5s. 6d. per day, as at present. A petty officer gets 5s. 2d. a day, so that when he is promoted he only gets 4d. a day more, although his expenses are necessarily heavier. A question that has often come before the right hon. Gentleman and this House is the question of the pensions given to chief petty officers, and why the Admiralty will not agree to give them a halfpenny a day for each day they serve in the rank of chief petty officer I cannot conceive. As a matter of fact, when a chief petty officer retires on his pension he is disrated, for he only gets the same pension as a first-class petty officer. Hon. Members are aware that there is no other way for the officers and men of the Navy to bring their grievances forward than by getting them submitted to this House, and I hope hon. Gentlemen will think these things over and see if they cannot strengthen the hands of the First Lord of the Admiralty, so that these matters could be set right. With regard to the question of chief petty officers' pensions, the First Lord of the Admiralty will remember that both his predecessors, Lord George Hamilton and Lord Spencer, gave the men to understand—I will not say "promised," but they used the word "consideration," which is 283 a very handy word for Members of the Government—that this question was going to be looked into with some idea of ameliorating their position with regard to their pension. As to the question of offences, if the petty officers were polled, it would be found that they would far rather have all these questions settled by their own captain than by any Court of Officers you could suggest. That is my experience, and I give you my own experience for what it is worth. When I have had men who were troublesome, and who could not be kept straight, I have had them up on deck and told them that I should send them to be tried by court-martial, but they have always said, "I wish you would settle it yourself, sir." Moreover, if the offences are serious, and the matter has to be dealt with by a court, these men would sometimes have to be kept prisoners for two or three months before you could get to where other ships are in order to form a court, so that the cases could be dealt with. That is one of the difficulties you have to contend with in trying a man by court-martial. Then there is the question of good conduct and gratuities. It is very hard that a man who may for some offence prejudicial to discipline be punished in the last year of his time should forfeit his good conduct medal and gratuity, whereas if he commits the offence at the beginning of his time it does not affect him at all. With that it appears that, although a man might be a loyal and faithful sailor, he is punished to that extent because he has made a mistake. We are all liable to mistakes. At the present moment I wish to know what becomes of the money that is stopped. Perhaps the First Lord of the Admiralty will tell us that. He shakes his head—well, it must go somewhere. I will put a question to the First Lord as to what becomes of the money that is stopped for committing offences. I have always been in favour with regard to these offences—I said it in this House of Commons—of not logging up things against a man; that I would rather punish a man for breaking his leave in some other way than by sending him to prison. Why, I should have broken my leave over and over again had I been in their position. Some of the men 284 that break their leave are excellent men, but at present you have to send them to prison by the law. Now, I would rather fine him, so as not to bring these things against him, for you must bring these things up against him if you send him to prison. That is a permanent record against him, although he may be a very good man, and, as I said before, I would rather fine him heavily. Then there is the question of the stoppages, which I have spoken several times about. What becomes of that money? I calculated some twelve years ago that it amounted to something like £86,000 a year. Now, that £86,000 I have always maintained belonged to the men. The contract you make with them is that you pay them so much, give them so much food, worth so much. I will give you an example of the savings. Take the case of a mess of 24 or 12 men. They will not take up so many pounds of meat, the meat is worth sixpence, but the men only get fourpence; therefore there is twopence saved on every pound, and it is these savings which I believe amount to £86,000, and I have never been clear where it goes to. I used to be told that the expense of sending meat, and of salt meat particularly, abroad was more to China than it is to the home stations, and therefore this £86,000 was spent on that. I am not, however, quite clear on that question, but there are these savings; they do exist, and I hope the First Lord will tell us where they go to. With regard to the remarks that I have made, I do hope that the Committee will give ma the credit of not having any axe to grind. I do not want any command, or orders, or decorations, or any favours from the authorities; if I did, I do not suppose I should get them. I do think that this is not a personal question in any way whatever. It is a question which I feel strongly about, and all I want on this question of the pay and the privileges of the officers and men is to give ventilation to the question, to let the country know exactly how things stand, and certainly to strengthen the hands of the First Lord in order to enable him to put this question right, which I do not think any Member can say is entirely satisfactory at present.
§ *THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. W. G. E. MACARTNEY,) Antrim, S.
With regard to the last question raised by my noble and gallant Friend relative to the savings, I think it will be more convenient to the Committee if I hold that over until we go to Vote 2, upon which the money is taken with regard to that special saving. The hon. Member for Devonport drew attention to the question relating to the shipwrights, and he was followed this afternoon by his colleague on much the same lines. The hon. Member asked me if the figures recently given were correctly given. I think the question put by the hon. Gentleman was entirely confined to the the question relating to the shipwrights, on board ship, and the answer given by my hon. Friend related to the deficiency in the shipwrights employed on board ship. I make that explanation in order that there may be no confusion between a naval shipwright and one employed in a dockyard.
§ *MR. H. E. KEARLEY (Devonport)
When you talk about shipwrights on shore I understand you are referring still to naval shipwrights? [Mr. MACARTNEY: No.] Well, I know the difference between a shipwright in the employment of the Government and a shipwright rating. My question was directed to the question of shipwright ratings. I inquired as to the men who are in the naval service. Civil employment is quite a different thing.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
The figures given by my hon. Friend were quite right. The hon. Member doubted their accuracy, but I have looked into the matter, and I find the figures given were perfectly correct. The figures the hon. Gentleman placed before the Committee no doubt may have alluded to all the ports with regard to deficiencies, not only in naval shipwrights, but in every scale of ratings on board ship. As a matter of fact the deficiency stated by my hon. Friend in regard to blacksmiths and naval shipwrights has decreased since the date of the question. Now, the hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the 286 efficiency of Her Majesty's ships was impaired by the decrease in the number of naval shipwrights which has taken place recently, but he based the skill of this class of rating on a much higher level than I should have been inclined to do. The qualification which is demanded of a naval shipwright is not a very high one. It is a very moderate examination. He is only required to read and write fairly; he must possess a knowledge of wood and iron shipbuilding, be capable of using ordinary tools, and possess a knowledge of some of the principal parts of the ship, and (this is the highest test he is subjected to) he must know the method of fitting and attaching to iron vessels such things as watertight doors. Now, that is not, compared to other scales of ratings, a very high qualification. I do not ask the Committee to accept it on my own statement. I have made myself acquainted with the views of professional advisers of the Admiralty, but whatever may be the quality of those qualifications, the efficiency of ships has not been in the least impaired by the diminution in that complement of the rating, and it is possible—and we should not hesitate if necessary—to send any of our ships to sea without a single rating of this class. In fact, the necessity for the class in recent years has largely diminished. Formerly, in the days of the wooden ships, they were the only class, or almost the only class, who combined a knowledge of working in wood and iron, but with, the increase that has taken place in more modern men-of-war they are not now the only class that possess a knowledge of these two things, and they do not possess as high a qualification as other ratings on board; and I can assure the Committee that, looking at all the necessities of the case, there would not be the slightest hesitation in sending any ship to sea without a single rating of this class on board. The advantages that are offered to the ratings of this class, have not been taken much advantage of; but that is a question for the men themselves and does not impair the efficiency of the naval service. I have been given to understand—I cannot say how far this may be the case—that a good deal of difficulty has been experienced in obtaining men of this double qualification, that workers in wood and iron 287 are not as numerous as they were years ago, and that this is owing to the very rigid demarcation which has been enforced upon all skilled workers by the various trade societies. I am informed that there are very few private yards which employ men of the double qualification; that they are considered specialists, and are really only employed in one or two yards in work of a very special character. Then the hon. Gentleman drew attention to the quality and quantity of the rations issued to the men of the Fleet. Now, first of all with regard to quality, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the very greatest care is taken that the rations issued to the Fleet are of the very highest quality. At Portsmouth and Devonport, as the hon. Member knows, we slaughter all our own meat. We buy no refrigerated meat, and we endeavour as far as possible to place the local contracts in the hands of local purveyors, so as to ensure the highest quality of fresh meat. Similarly with regard to all the other provisions. The chocolate is of the very best quality; so good is it, that when we went to open up a new source of supply the makers in the country said that they could not supply the same quality as the Service ration at the price paid by the public for the chocolate placed on the market. We have had no complaints as to the quality of the provisions. There is every opportunity given for men in the Naval service of complaining, and since I have been at the Admiralty I have made special inquiries, but I can state on the authority of a permanent official that only on one occasion since he has been connected with the Victualling Department of the Admiralty has any complaint been made of any character whatever. I may say that in the case of a complaint being made with regard to provisions supplied under an annual contract, if the contractor does not give a satisfactory explanation, not only to the officers on the station, but an explanation which satisfies myself and those concerned with me at the Admiralty, the name of that contractor is taken from the list. I do not think that there is any care which should be taken that is omitted to secure that in every respect the quality of rations issued is of the very best kind. Then 288 the hon. Gentleman raised another question, with regard to the quantity. Now, that is one of the most difficult questions which can be dealt with in connection with the Navy, because it is inextricably bound up with one of the greatest privileges which the British seaman has—that is the question of savings. The amount taken for savings is the large sum of £414,000. [Lord C. BERESFORD: How much?] £414,000. It has greatly grown. As the hon. Gentleman knows, savings were established many years ago in the Navy, and I think that my noble and gallant Friend and other naval officers in the House will agree with me that nothing could be more dangerous, nothing could be more deleterious than to attempt to meddle in any degree with a custom so long established, and I think my noble and gallant Friend will also agree with me that it would be impossible to deal with the quantity of rations issued without dealing with the question of savings at the same time. From the financial point of view, I submit that I should be very glad to deal with the question of the quantity of rations and the question of savings. I have looked into the matter, and I am convinced that the seaman is a large gainer and the country a considerable loser by the transaction, for this reason, that since the period at which the price at which the savings were taken up and fixed many years ago, the price at which the articles can be purchased has fallen, and the consequence is that the seaman of every class puts a certain amount of money in his pocket over the transaction. I will give one instance alone. Take the case of the saving that is fixed for a bread ration. The seaman can now purchase three times the amount of bread that he could at the time that the savings were fixed, and that illustration can be put with regard to almost every article of the seaman who takes up savings. Thus, for that reason—and I think it is a reason that commends itself to the hon. Gentleman, and I hope also to the Committee—I think it would be extremely difficult and extremely dangerous to attempt to deal with the question of the quantity of the rations. It would be impossible, having regard to the taxpayer, to attempt to deal with the quantity of rations without attempting to deal at the same time 289 with the question of savings, and any attempt in that direction would be looked upon in a very hostile light by the men serving in the Fleet, and would not be considered by them to be to their advantage. There is one other point in connection with the hon. Gentleman's speech, which is the benefit that the seamen gain from the present system. Rations are not cheeked against men on leave for less than 48 hours, but are allowed to them, and therefore they take up the whole of their savings for that period. Then, with regard to the general arrangements, men employed during bad weather, or in heavy work, or under any other exceptional circumstances, have gratuitous rations of tea, sugar, and chocolate issued, and in the tropics the men are almost invariably allowed to take up optional allowances. Then the hon. Gentleman alluded to the hours of meals. Well, those hours are not governed by the Admiralty instructions, and I am not concerned in arguing the question with the hon. Gentleman as to whether they are reasonable or unreasonable, but they have been fixed as much for the convenience and comfort of the men themselves as for the service of the ship, and they also are closely connected with that consideration which I have laid before the Committee, namely, the consideration affecting the quality of rations issued. We have had no complaint from any channel whatever of the inconvenience of those hours, and I have no reason to suppose, nor has anybody at the Admiralty, that the present hours are considered either of an inconvenient or an unreasonable character. I think the hon. Gentleman will agree with me that at all events there is one hour which by the general consensus of opinion of all classes engaged in any arduous work could not be very well moved or altered from the hour at which it is fixed on board ship now—I mean the dinner hour. I have no doubt that if there were any general opinion amongst the men in the Fleet as to any inconvenience which arose from the present hours of breakfast and tea, the Admiralty would consider the question and see whether arrangements could not be made whereby those hours could be advantageously altered.
§ *MR. KEARLEY
The break between the last meal of the day at 4 o'clock in the afternoon and the first meal at 7 o'clock on the next morning is the substance of my complaint.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
I quite agree that it is a long interval, and I am not prepared to say that it is a reasonable one, but no complaint has ever reached the Admiralty of a particular or general desire for any alteration, and although those are the hours of the official meals there is no reason whatever why the men should not supplement them in some other way. I understand that arrangements are made for men going on watch to have a cup of cocoa before going on duty. [Mr. KEARLEY: At their own expense!] If there is a general desire there is no reason, so far as I can see, why the present arrangement could not be altered to meet the convenience of the men. Now, as to the warrant, officers, I understood that my hon. Friend complained that the boatswains did not receive the allowance which is granted to the gunners and torpedo gunners; but the fact is that when men elect to come forward they decide whether they shall become gunners, torpedo gunners, or boatswains. There are three different degrees of warrant officers, and the educational test required in the case of a boatswain is considerably lower and inferior to that which is required in the case of gunners and torpedo gunners; and, as a rule, I think, the men generally have regard to their own capacity to go in for the higher qualification. The 1s. 6d. a day is only given to the warrant officer when he has obtained his first-class certificate in gunnery. The boatswain's duty is of quite a different and inferior character, and there is no reason why he should be placed in the same position as a gunner or torpedo gunner. Then, as to the promotion of the warrant officer to commission rank, I do not think that is so serious a question as is supposed. The warrant rank is reached much earlier than in the Army, and it is an additional advantage that the warrant officers should get the privileges of the rank and of its pension, etc., earlier than in the Army. As to commission rank, the percentage of warrant officers is one-eighth, which would favourably compare 291 with a similar condition in the Army. Although there is a very strong desire to see commission rank increased from this source, and there are a great number of warrant officers who take commission rank, there are a great many who do not desire to do so, because it leads to additional expense, and they prefer to remain where they are. With regard to the Marines, I am assured that all complaints have been satisfied with regard to the question of boots. The forage caps are now issued free, and the amount of marching the Marines do at the large depôts is nothing like what was stated by the hon. Gentleman who referred to that matter. My hon. and gallant Friend has put down a Motion on this Vote, and if he will allow me to refer to that when the question comes on—
§ *MR. KEARLEY
May I ask a question as to pay? I raised the question of pay specifically in the question I asked the First Lord of the Admiralty.
§ *MR. KEARLEY
As to whether similar treatment is to be meted out to the Royal Marines as to the Army with regard to pay and deductions, the First Lord replied that the payment of the Marines should be considered. This is the only opportunity we shall have of getting a reply, and I ask for the reply now.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
I think it would be more convenient to argue those questions which cannot be settled on Vote 1 on the Amendment of the hon. Member. With reference to the Coastguard, the question has been fully considered, and a decision has been arrived at against reducing the age limit as to pension. Then, as to the Naval Reserve, the percentage of men who are re-enrolled after their first period of service is in the Navy shown to be 67 per cent., and out of the balance has to be provided a large number of men who are invalided, die, desert, or are discharged by purchase or as undesirable. With regard to the question of whether the posi- 292 tion of the Naval Reserve is being maintained, I have looked into the question, and I am happy to say I find the same percentage is being maintained. The hon. Member for Belfast raised a question which I am quite aware is exciting great interest in Belfast, as to a training ship for boys, but the requirements of the Service do not necessitate another ship, and if they did we have to consider the success of the Northampton and the Calliope. The claim has been put forward by Belfast on various grounds, and it has been argued that because it is a large and important seaport that a training ship ought to be stationed there. I wish to point out to my hon. Friend—not through any want of sympathy—that if these views are to be carried into effect, London, as a seaport, and Liverpool and Newcastle would all have equally good claims to have a training ship.
§ MR. H. O. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
But whereas there are eight training ships in England, there are none on the North of Ireland and west coast of Scotland.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, W.)
May I say I am entirely in accord with my Friend upon this subject, and I will put down a Question on the subject on the Paper for Monday.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
I might just point out that if those views were to enter into and weigh with the administration of the Navy there would be very grave misuse of the money voted by Parliament for that Service, but my hon. Friend stated that when a training ship was stationed at Queenstown it was against the views of our Naval advisors. I am not prepared to say what the views of the prior Administration were as to the policy of stationing a training ship in Ireland, but when we came to consider that policy Queenstown was selected upon the general advice of the Naval authorities. It has an unrivalled land-locked water, and it has its hospital and Naval establishment. There is no other inland water on the coast of Ireland which presents so many advantages. I regret to say, although I am bound to say it upon the authority of the Naval advisers to the Admiralty, that there are such disadvan- 293 tages in connection with the natural situation of Belfast that they could not recommend the placing of cither a training ship or a coastguard ship there. I naturally regret that the wishes of that city cannot be acceded to, but I wish the hon. Gentleman to understand that the situation of Belfast has been fully considered upon previous occasions in connection with this matter. The principles on which the Admiralty have always acted have been, as far as possible, to keep the training ships away from large centres, and the fact that, Belfast is a large town, a great populous centre, is one reason against the probability of the Admiralty ever for a moment considering the placing of a training ship there. The same consideration applies to Liverpool, Newcastle, London, and other large towns. The question has been decided entirely upon its Naval aspect, and nothing but Naval authority has decided the question. I think I have now dealt with all the questions that have been raised during this Debate. There was one other raised by my noble Friend the Member for York as to sick leave and pay of officers, and I can assure him that that question is under consideration, but at the present moment we are not in a position to give any further information.
§ SIR JOHN BAKER (Portsmouth)
I wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that he labours under a great mistake when he supposes that the grievances of the men in the Naval Service can be easily brought to the notice of the Admiralty. It is a most difficult matter indeed to bring them before them, especially as to the provisioning of vessels for foreign service. There is great dissatisfaction among the crews on the question of provisioning, and in relation to other questions to which I think there ought to be some reference made. And I think there ought to be some recognition of the complaints which are made with regard to the pay of the petty officers, seamen, and stokers. This year the authorities are taking great care to make better provision for the Army, and it will undoubtedly give a great amount of dissatisfaction in the Naval Service if no attention whatever is paid to the complaints which have been made 294 here to-night by the noble Lord the Member for York, and were also made last Friday night. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty to give the House the assurance that some attention shall be paid by the Departmental Committee to these complaints. They are made year after year and there has never been any reply to them. It is only through their representatives in the House that these men have the opportunity of voicing their grievances, and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to say "Yea" or "Nay" on the present occasion. If he can give us a promise that there shall be some departmental inquiry into the complaints and that such remedy shall be applied as the circumstances permit, it will give great satisfaction to the men, especially when generosity and attention are being paid to the sister Service which is altogether unique in its character. Why, indeed, should the Navy be entirely overlooked. There is no provision whatever in regard to the petty officers, the men of the lower deck, and the stokers. Great dissatisfaction exists—I have heard of it year after year—and it is as great this year as it has been for years past.
§ CAPTAIN G. R. BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
I think it is a considerable advantage to the House of Commons, and also to the Navy, that there should come into the House Members, such as my noble Friend, who have been in constant touch with the condition of the Navy in recent years, and who are in a position to represent to the Admiralty the various reforms which are required. It is, however, rather a commentary upon the relation between the Admiralty and the gentlemen belonging to the Naval profession that all the years that they have been in the House, somebody, at some time or other, has impressed upon the Admiralty the very same complaint that my noble Friend has brought before the House to-day. I am bound to say that I, personally, have not been very interested in it, but my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Eastbourne Division—to whom, in my humble opinion, we are very much indebted—has devoted his constant attention to Naval matters, especially to small 295 grievances and small points. Nobody, since I have been in the House, at any rate, has paid the same attention to these matters that has been paid to them by the hon. and gallant Member for Eastbourne. Sir, I rise merely for the purpose of associating myself for a moment with those who are anxious that some more ample career should be possible to the men of the Service. As to the exact direction that should be taken, I am not myself quite clear. I am not sure that I can go quite so far as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for York in suggesting that young men should have facilities given to them of passing from the rank of seaman to that of officer. I have no doubt that there are considerable difficulties about that, which possibly may be sooner or later overcome, but meanwhile the request that is made by the warrant officers that they may be given an honorary rank, and that certain appointments in the dockyards and other places may be reserved for them is, I think, a direction in which the Admiralty might very well take steps. It would, no doubt, open a small career to those men, and I understand it would give them great satisfaction. I have never heard anybody take any exception to it, and I am sure we should all be glad, before the Debate closes, to hear from the right hon. Gentleman whether the Admiralty has considered the matter, and, if so, what the views of the Admiralty are. There is no doubt, as the hon. and gallant Member for York has said, that we can hardly hope—and it is an advantage as to which I am not quite sure—that a career of rising from the various ranks of the Service up to the highest, if possible, can always be closed to the blue-jackets of the Navy. No doubt, I think, on the contrary, it would probably be wise, as soon as may be, to open the door and give to them the same facilities for promotion as are afforded to certain branches of the Service. Two or three hon. Members have raised the question of the times of the meals of the men on board ship. I would venture to suggest to them that if they look into Civil life they would find that the times are very much the same, both for breakfast, dinner, and tea. I do not know now, of course, whether the time for tea is the 296 best; certainly when I was serving it was inconvenient. I do not, however, desire to refer to that, I only desire to associate myself with those who press forward the claims of the warrant officers.
§ MR. JOHN WILSON (Lanark, Govan)
There is a very considerable feeling among those who are engaged in shipwright work in the Royal Navy that they are very badly treated by the Admiralty. In case of war these men would become essentially necessary for putting matters right, for no body of men that I know are excelled in intelligence and are handier on board in any capacity than the shipwrights. Their grievances are that they are not considered equal to other men who are their equals in the Civil yards, and I think this is a grievance. These men are very intelligent, industrious, well-doing men, and men very capable of being employed by the Admiralty at sea. The authorities will make a gross mistake if they stand out against the grievances of men, whatever the department may be, who are in the Navy. The country, at any rate, is alive to the necessity that men on board ship, engaged in Naval enterprise, should be well looked after and well cared for, and has grudged nothing that is necessary for their comfort. A great deal has been said to-night which I think might be very advantageously incorporated in the work of the Admiralty, and I trust that they will lay it to heart. If we take the men in the Navy, or in any other Department of the country's work, there is a great amount of good common sense amongst them, and I am satisfied that nothing will be asked on behalf of the men that is not necessary for their comfort and for the good of the country.
§ *MR. J. ROUND (Essex, Harwich)
I rise to support the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne, and to express the hope that the Memorial he has referred to on behalf of the Coastguards will receive the favourable consideration of Her Majesty's Government. I am sure they are a most deserving body of men. Everyone who represents a coast con- 297 stituency has an opportunity of seeing them from time to time, and I cannot help thinking that they are only asking for what is reasonable. The sum required would not be very large, and if the First Lord of the Treasury could see his way to give it, I think it would give great satisfaction to a body of men than whom, perhaps, there are none more deserving in any part of Her Majesty's Service. I also rise to say a word about Harwich Harbour, which is in my own constituency. Several hon. Members have referred to training ships, and we all know that a training ship has lately been established off the coast of Ireland. Well, Sir, I am not aware of what is in the minds of the Lords of the Admiralty, but I can quite conceive it possible that fresh training ships may, from time to time, be established on our coasts, and I can only hope that the east coast will be considered as well as any other portion of the country. I would venture to say that the harbour of Harwich is a very important one, and would be a most important one in case of war. I would venture to say, too, that there are no better young sailors than those along the rivers and estuaries of the cast coast. We all know that at the present time some of our best yachtsmen choose their crews from the east coast, and I venture to say that, if a training ship could be put there, it would prove of assistance in recruiting a good class of seamen for the Navy. I should like to say a word with regard to the deepening of Harwich Harbour: at the same time I do not know, Mr. Lowther, whether I should be in order in alluding to the subject upon this Vote, but if I am not, I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty will allow me to address a communication to him on the subject, as it is a matter, in my opinion, not only of local but of national importance.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
With reference to the questions which have been raised and the suggestions made, I would say that my system is to keep my ears open and let the points simmer in my mind, but I cannot give a decisive answer at the moment. I cannot pledge myself to 298 any course of action in regard to questions of discipline without, consulting my colleagues, nor in regard to matters involving expense without communicating with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, I know, has been extremely generous in regard to the Naval Estimates. Some of the suggestions scorn extremely reasonable, and others unreasonable and impossible, but I, at least, prefer to say neither "Aye" nor "No" until I have consulted my advisers. There is one point upon which I can say that I entirely agree with the noble Lord the Member for York, and if I can see my way to any system by which we can have younger admirals in the Navy, certainly it will have my heartiest support. Of course, it involves very great difficulties. I should be very glad if a certain number of young men could be promoted, but it is a carious fact that the French, who have tried the system, have told us that they prefer ours. The French had also tried the system of promotion with regard to captains, but they found it did not answer.
§ *MR. KEARLEY
The appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty to get this Vote has come much earlier than on former occasions. I do not think we have exceeded the customary limits in discussing these matters at some length. I do not, however, purpose to make any lengthy observations, but one or two matters have cropped up in the course of the Debate as to which I think I am entitled to say a word or two. In the first place, I should like to thank the noble Lord the member for York for the thoroughly democratic sentiments he has expressed that there should be a ladder of promotion open from the boy to the admiral. It was difficult, of course, but seeing that during the whole of this century there have only been two promotions to commission rank from the lower deck, I think the time has come when it would be advantageous to the country in every way, if parents could understand that, providing the qualifications which their sons might possess were adequate, the same opportunity of getting to real commission rank is as open to them as in the Army at the present time. Now, Sir, 299 the question of warrant officers filling particular appointments has been referred to by the noble Lord. I suppose he had in his mind those Naval Ordnance appointments, as to which there have been definite promises made in this House by the First Lord of the Admiralty and previous First Lords in the previous Administrations, and also by my right hon. Friend before me, that as these appointments fall vacant they should be filled by warrant officers of the Fleet. Now, the House is aware that formerly the guns were voted on the Army Estimates, consequently Army men were in charge of the Ordnance depôts, but now that the Ordnance Department has become under the administration of the Admiralty it is quite proper and only fair that the appointments should now be filled by Naval men. Well, now, as regards the point raised by myself upon a previous occasion, and also raised to-night by the noble Lord the Member for York, appertaining to the question of granting warrant officers of the boatswain line the special certificate grant upon promotion from the lower deck, the same as gunners, I was extremely surprised to hear the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty say that men promoted to the boatswain line were not deemed deserving of this qualifying certificate, and that practically they were inferior men to those who went to the gunnery line. [Mr. MACARTNEY: No, I said he selected another sphere.] What the hon. Gentleman said is this: that he selected the other line because he had not the necessary qualifications for the gunnery line. Well, before he goes into the boatswain line he has been a gunnery man himself. A boatswain, before he took up the boatswain line, invariably had been a gunnery instructor. [Lord C. BERESFORD: Sometimes.] He is wrong in supposing that a man goes into the boatswain line because he has not the ability to take up the gunnery line. He wants to get his warrant, and he does not take up the gunnery line because there are no vacancies, and I should very much like the hon. Gentleman to correct that statement. I am sure he will, because a great deal of ill-feeling; will be caused if the idea goes forth that a boatswain is inferior to a, gunner I did not say that. I said the test was 300 not so hard.] The hon. Gentleman said something more than that. He said that the educational ability or capacity of the men who went to the boatswain line was not so good as those who went to the gunnery line.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
Certainly I never meant to convey that, and if I did I most certainly withdraw it. All that I wished to convey was that the examination test was much easier.
§ *MR. KEARLEY
I am only anxious that it shall not go forth from the hon. Gentleman that he does not hold that view, and that he did not wish to convey that impression at all. And now, as regards the point raised by my hon. Friend who referred to courts-martial. I quite agree that there are difficulties in the way, but I do not agree that every captain on board ship is the kindest possible man. I would not mind myself being court-martialled by the noble Lord the Member for York. There have been cases over and over again where captains have been unduly severe. The House will remember the case of the captain of the I carus. I myself, in 1888, when that boat was in the dock at Esquimault, was looking round in the ordinary way, and was addressed by no less than three of the petty officers of the ship, who, seeing that I was an Englishman, asked me to write a letter to Truth, pointing out the terrible treatment to which they had been subjected. They gave as evidence of this ill-treatment that eleven men had deserted to the United States only a few days before, and that on the West, Coast she lost no end of men, and that this captain carried on quite a reign of terror. All this is recorded at the Admiralty, and I am not stating any-tiring that cannot be absolutely proved. The Admiralty are aware of all the facts, and, therefore, there is something to be said on the other side why men should not be summarily disrated without having an opportunity of getting their sentences reviewed. I know it would be difficult to insist that no petty officer should be disrated unless he had been first tried by court-martial, but there ought to be some opportunity of getting his case reviewed. [An hon. MEMBER: 301 All these cases are sent to the Admiralty Station.] Yes, that is true; but what did the admiral say in this case? I think I need not go into the painful circumstances, but the captain was ultimately found to be insane. That may be information for my hon. Friend. This man had been in command of a ship for years, and during his command scores of men were disrated at the caprice of his violent temper and ruined. I think we, at all events, ought to have some consideration for the desire of the men that there should be some opportunity offered of escaping an injustice of that sort when it occurs. Now, the noble Lord has alluded to the question which we have brought forward here repeatedly, that a man who has held a perfect character for 19 years should not lose the benefit of it for a minor offence in the last year of his service, which often involves him losing; his medal and his gratuity also. Last year there was a case which I brought before the House where a man was punished for wearing plain clothes on shore contrary to orders. That was a very minor offence, but the disrating of this man was too severe a punishment, because it cost him his good conduct medal and gratuity. Therefore, I hope the Admiralty will see their way to revise that part of the regulation at all events, so that a hardship of that description for a very minor offence cannot be passed upon a man. The only other grievance that I wish to ask for a reply to is line that has been raised both on that side of the House and on this side, and it is the question of the pensions of the chief petty officer. He is the only man in the whole Navy who does not get a superior pension when holding a superior rating. The second-class petty officer gets his pension of a halfpenny a day for the whole of the time he holds the rating; a first-class petty officer gets an additional penny per day to his pension for the time he too holds the rating, but the chief petty officer gets nothing additional for the superior rating. In every other branch of the Service rank carries with, if increased pension. Therefore I think that, seeing that there has been a promise given by previous Administrations that this question should be considered, we might press the First Lord of the Admiralty, in spite of his appeal to us to night, a little 302 more closely on this point. Then there is the question, of the re-engagement money for stokers, which has been referred to, and which I will supplement by referring once more to a question which I referred to the other night—that is, the question of progressive pay to petty officers after four years' service. This is given to other branches of the Service, but is denied to stokers. I hope I have not stayed in the way of the right hon. Gentleman, but there are one or two points that I have raised which I hope there will be time to reply to. I have not heard a reply to that most important question relating to promotion from the lower deck. The noble Lord the Member for York has a thoroughly democratic spirit in this matter, although not in politics generally, and he is, I am sure, equally as anxious to see the grievances of the lower deck responded to in this House as he is to remove the grievances of the class from which he comes.
§ *MR. JOHN PENN (Lewisham)
I shall detain the House only for a few minutes on a point in which I take a great interest. There are now only 275 engine-room officers provided for, whereas last year there were 325. It seems to me, and it always has seemed, that the rate of increase of skilled labour, or rather, of skilled men in the engine-rooms of men-of-war, is altogether inadequate in proportion to the rate of increase in the horse - power and the auxiliary machinery of the vessels. It seems to me that the idea is that there are enough men to keep the vessel cruising at a moderate speed, and I am quite sure that there are; but I do desire to impress upon the Admiralty the necessity that when distress conies, and when the push comes, the safety of the ship will be largely dependent upon her engine-room complement. It seems to me to be assumed that a vessel can be run into a dockyard whenever she likes. She ought to be more self-contained than she is, and have a sufficient number of skilled men on board to repair any small defects that may arise. I think, at all events, that the increase in the horse-power and the auxiliary machinery should certainly be accompanied by an increase in the number of skilled men on board ship. It is rather a modest assumption on my 303 part, but I certainly do not suppose that for a moment that the new form of boiler will take a less number of men to look after it than the old form, and I do desire to call the attention of the Admiralty to what I think is a retrograde step in that they have not increased in proportion to the horse-power and auxiliary machinery the skilled men on board ship. Upon the engineers' question I am glad to see that in the current year a larger number of men have joined from outside. I am perfectly certain that the Navy will be largely dependent in future on the outside sources, and I hope that the Admiralty will take means to improve that branch of the Service and make it sufficiently attractive to secure the services of the best men in the trade.
§ MR. H. O. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
The noble Lord has spoken about one branch of the Service, and I will say a word about a branch which is still less represented. I speak on behalf of the Royal Marines. This year there has been an increase in the Marines, bringing the total to 16,000 men. Some of us were sanguine enough last year to hope that the position of the Marines would at length receive more recognition than they have done. Something was said about giving to the Marines some proportion of the emoluments which are awarded to the two other branches of Her Majesty's Service, but nothing has been done, and the condition of the Marines is really becoming almost a scandal. I know that the First Lord is aware of the failure of the prospect that is held out to the Marine officer, and that he has done his best to improve his prospects, and—I believe I am right in saying—encouraging the appointment of Marine officers to discharge the immediate duties of their corps. We have seen distinctly members of the Marine Service lately appointed altogether outside the Navy, and, with the sanction of the Government, taking up posts outside the country altogether. But, Sir, I think, having regard to the circumstances, that in this one branch of their dealing with the Service the Admiralty seem to be taking a leaf out of the book of the War Office, and are not regarding the feelings 304 and the underlying just and natural sentiments of those who serve us. This is, as I ventured to say before, very serious; you may complain of the officers of the Marines, and say that they are not capable of fulfilling every duty of the Naval officers, but as long as you offer nothing more to a man who commences his career than that which is offered to the most successful soldier in the Royal Marines, you are not likely to greatly increase the qualifications of your officers there. I wish to refer for a moment to the discrepancy in the number of the higher appointments as compared with the Naval branch and the Army, which is something perfectly astounding. The whole prospect a marine entering the Service has to look forward to is that he may find himself in the rank of a major-general occupied in superintending the addition of figures upon a seat in Whitehall. Now, Sir, that is not encouraging. I do not know whether the First Lord has been able to give any further consideration to the question of employing Marine officers in larger numbers on board ships. As far as I can make out, there has absolutely nothing whatever been done; on the contrary, I find that, whilst the duties have increased, the number of Marine officers has grown smaller and smaller. I cannot believe that this decrease of the Marine officers is to go on. It has been suggested, and I do not know what the view of the Admiralty may be, that the need for Naval lieutenants being very great, the Marine officers might be employed for their duties. I would suggest to the First Lord of the Admiralty that the case of the Marines is well worth his personal attention. Of course, the Royal Marines are not directly represented on the Admiralty Board, and therefore they cannot bring their grievances closely under his notice. There is no other branch of Her Majesty's Service treated in this way, and there is no branch of Her Majesty's Service which deserves better of the State. It is really becoming a scandal.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
I am sorry to intrude myself again, but no one can get anything out of authority except by constant importunity. The First Lord has not answered my question with regard to lieutenants. This is the only 305 time we can ask these questions until this time next year, and I hope he will take the matter into his consideration. I think the questions respecting progressive pay to lieutenants, the time when warrant officers should become chief petty officers, and the pensions of petty officers are questions which should be answered one way or another to-night in this Committee.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
replied that it would be impossible, with a civilian at the head of the Admiralty, to answer these questions off-hand without, consulting the Admiralty officials.
§ MR. EDWARD MORTON
I entirely appreciate the position the right hon. Gentleman takes up; but there is one question, at any rate, which can hardly be described as an off-hand, one. I personally advocated that question when I was selected as the candidate for Devonport seven years ago, and then it was an old question which has been constantly brought before the House—I mean the question of warrant officers. Every single naval officer who has been a Member of the House for the last ten years has advocated a line of promotion for the naval officers: and although everybody says pleasant things about the matter, yet here we are without any decision from the Admiralty. I think it is time we had a reply.
I have been, and am still, strongly opposed, for many reasons, to warrant officers becoming naval lieutenants. Warrant officers themselves no longer ask for it; what they ask for is promotion in their own rank. You must level down lieutenants to their level, for it would be very difficult to level warrant officers up to the requirements of scientific naval lieutenants. You want, for instance, mathematical knowledge and a knowledge of astronomy. I think it would be a great mistake to put warrant officers in that position, when they could not discharge the duties we require.
§ *GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)
The First Lord of the Admiralty has regretted the meagreness of the Colonial contribution. It is certainly a matter to be regretted; but it seems to me that if the 306 authorities here expect that the Colonial contribution will be furnished primarily in money, I think they will have to regret its meagreness for some time to come. The Navy is maintained not only by men and ships, but bases, too, as well as men and ships, have to be supplied. You have far heavier expenses than merely men and ships. Can we not apportion the duties of maintaining our Navy and furnishing its requirements by asking the distant parts of the Empire to furnish these bases, and thus relieve the Exchequer of a very large expenditure? It would be an immense saving to the Mother Country. I have sat in a Colonial Legislature, and I know that if responsible Ministers were to go to that Legislature and ask for a large sum of money to be disbursed from Whitehall those Ministers would not get the Vote. But if the money is to be spent in their own country for the service of the Navy I believe that money would be voted. Besides which it must be remembered that in time of war it would be always a matter of great difficulty to send out men who would be wanted for your newly commissioned ships at home. The Colonial Legislature, I am satisfied, would be willing to aid in furnishing Reserves for the Navy, who, in time of war, would be immediately available to reinforce the squadrons.
§ MR. WALTER OWEN CLOUGH (Portsmouth)
I am so absolutely disappointed with the position the First Lord has taken up to-night that I must occupy your time by a reference to those petitions which the senior Member for Portsmouth particularly referred to, and which for the last seven years have been sent to the Admiralty by men in the Service. I desire an answer to this question: What becomes of these petitions? Are they read? Are they considered? Is there any attempt to consider them in the spirit of making these men contented and remedying their grievances? [The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY: To what petitions does the hon. Member refer?] I am speaking of the petitions which come from the Naval Service. The only way we can bring the matter before the right hon. Gentleman is in this House; we are not supposed to approach the Admiralty. To my certain knowledge these petitions have been 307 coming up in some instances for the last eight or ten years, and the answer of the right hon. Gentleman—a courteous and diplomatic answer, I admit—has been that he keeps an open ear and an open mind, and gives the matter consideration. That does not meet the case at all. In my judgment, this is a matter which should be dealt with by some Committee, and if it is right and just the petition should be granted as far as the exigencies of the public service will permit. We talk a great deal about the Navy as the first line of defence, and about the importance of the Naval forces being kept in a high state of efficiency; and though the most powerful and most efficient Navy in the world is possessed by this country, I venture to say that throughout its ranks there is the greatest discontent. These petitions come up year after year, and there is no redress, and in many instances no answer. I think there ought to be some answer, so that these men may feel that their grievances are being considered, and that in time they will be remedied.
§ Vote agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding £247,700, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expenses of the Admiralty Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of if March, 1899.
§ Debate arising,
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
said: I am sorry to trouble the Committee again, and I am also sorry I have not got that Return which shows the expenditure in the administration of the War Office. I have for years held that the First Lord of the Admiralty ought to be a Secretary of State. The Service generally loses in consequence of the present arrangement. For example, when an officer is to be recommended for such a decoration as that of Commander of the Bath, the recommendation is sent to Her Majesty, not through the First Lord of the Admiralty, but through the Secretary of State for War. That is because the First Lord is not a Secretary of State. It is putting the Naval Service in a very inferior position. Here 308 is a thing that happened to my own certain knowledge, and the First Lord will probably remember it. There was a stoker who performed a most gallant action, turning off a steam valve at the risk of almost certain death. The First Lord of the Admiralty, desiring to bestow the Albert Medal on him, had to go to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, or the Board of Trade, to get a decoration for this man. The Board of Trade wrote back to the effect that they did not consider the case merited such recognition. The Admiralty replied that they did not know whether the clerks of the Board of Trade Office or themselves were the best judges of a gallant action. The Board of Trade did not agree to this, and the result was that the man got nothing at all. The First Sea Lord of the Admiralty is Commander-in-Chief of the Navy; he is in the same position as the Commander-in-Chief of the Army. Indeed, in time of war, in my humble opinion, he would be placed in a more important position—he would be in the same position as Moltke was in Germany. Yet his pay is only £1,500 a year and a house, and he receives £766 half - pay, which he has worked for by long and distinguished service. Now, the Commander-in-Chief gets £1,500. The last one, the Duke of Cambridge, got £6,000. To my mind, it seems monstrous that the First Sea Lord, with all his responsibility and all it means to this country, should only get £1,500 and a house, while the Commander-in-Chief of the Army gets £4,500 a year. Then there is the question of responsibility. I cannot see, even now, that there is any real responsibility. I have always argued that in all these questions the seamen at the Admiralty should represent to the House what they really want, and why they want it, thus making the First Lord of the Admiralty really responsible. But as it is now nobody ever knows what the seamen at the Admiralty Board want. When I was at the Admiralty a clerk came to me with a wet pen, and asked me to sign the Estimates for thirteen or fourteen millions, when I had never seen them. I refused to sign Estimates which I had never seen, and during the time I was at the Admiralty I never did sign Estimates which I had not 309 seen. What was I at the Admiralty for, and was I responsible or not? If not responsible, why should I put my name on the Estimates at all? When I was asked by the clerk to sign these Estimates I replied: "No; I have not seen them." He said all the others had signed. I answered; "I cannot help that. I have not seen them, and I cannot sign them." The clerk said: "Oh, but it is always done, and it does not matter not having seen the Estimates." I said: "It matters a great deal. I have not seen the Estimates, and I refuse to put 'Charles Beresford' at the foot of them." And now I am told by the Secretary to the Admiralty that this is always done. The First Lord of the Admiralty said, very rightly, that the Sea Lords are not able to answer any complaints or attacks from outside. That is true, and I think it is an unfortunate circumstance, but if the Sea Lords put down a Memorandum, so that the House would know what was necessary, the First Lord of the Admiralty would be really responsible. As it is now we are all in the dark. Nine years ago we were told by the then First, Lord of the Admiralty that everything was right and proper, and that those who wanted to increase the Fleet were exaggerating; but when the country and the Press took the question up a sum of £21,000,000 was asked for in three months after that statement was made by the First Lord of the Admiralty. There have been very many improvements at the Admiralty, but I do not think the present system is a good one. As long as we have the present Board and the present First Lord, I am not very Unhappy, but these may alter again, as they have altered before, and there is no reason why we might not then get into difficulty. Another point I wish to refer to in regard to this Vote is that of the works at Dover, Gibraltar, Port Royal, and other bases of Naval defence. Most of the delay in regard to these works has been caused by differences between the Naval and Military Services. When it comes to a question in which one Service I has to give way to another on certain points. I think the superior party in the Council of Defence of the Cabinet ought to settle the difference. Take the case of Gibraltar as an illustration. Year after year the necessity of fortifying Gibraltar was represented by the Naval Com- 310 mander-in-chief, and I myself over and over again made representations, publicly and privately, to the same effect. The answer always was: "We cannot take this up at the present moment, because the Military authorities refuse." These points are important, and I think the country ought to know something satisfactory. The First Lord of the Admiralty was quite right in saying that these were Cabinet questions, and were never made public. As a matter of fact, however, the Cabinet never meets without the whole Press of the country knowing that it meets, although the subject of debate is a secret. But I apprehend that the country ought to know that the Council of Defence meets and discusses these questions, because at this moment I believe there is delay at Hong Kong on account of differences between the Naval and Military authorities. When I was at Chatham a difference of opinion between the Naval and Military authorities put a stop to the building of barracks, and I am not sure if they have been begun even yet. [Mr. J. BURNS: Yes.] Well, they might have been begun long before if the Council of Defence had taken up the question. I can further illustrate those differences between the two authorities by the case of a mine which was laid down on a foreign station at great expense, and with, considerable trouble, by the Engineers. For years the Naval authorities never cared to meddle with the mine, but at last we got an admiral out, there who was strong-minded, and he determined to see about it. He found the mine was in the wrong place, and he wrote home such a strong letter that the Military authorities gave way, and altered the position of the mine to one which was more suitable in the admiral's opinion. This state of affairs is altogether absurd. Questions of proper organisation for war are the first things that ought to be put right by the Council of Defence. There is another point to which I would ask the First Lord of the Admiralty to give his attention. I have always held that the authorities do all they can to prevent officers obtaining knowledge. Every ship should have a copy of the Naval Estimates, so that officers may know what is going on with regard to the Fleet. When I was Captain of the Dockyard Reserve at Chatham I was not allowed to have confidential 311 books. I wrote and asked for these books, but was told I could not have them; that they were not issued to captains in the Dockyard and Fleet Reserve. I wrote again, explaining that I studied these books very carefully, but again I was refused. I then wrote for the Estimates and the Memorandum of the First Lord of the Admiralty, both of which absolutely had to do with my work. It is hardly credible, but it is, nevertheless, a fact, that while I received the Estimates I was told that if I wanted the First Lord's Memorandum I could see it in some public periodical, I think the Times. Sir, that is wrong. Every officer should be encouraged in every way to inform himself about his own Service. When I was at the Admiralty I made a proposal for the formation of an Intelligence Department, at a cost of £4,324 a year. I was informed at first that such a Department was not necessary, and I had the greatest difficulty in finally carrying it. I find now that 11 officers and seven clerks are employed, at a cost of £7,900 a year; so that it is apparent an Intelligence Department was necessary. I give the present Admiralty Board the greatest credit for what has been done. It is hard to keep on criticising, but my point is that not enough has been done yet, and that the Council of Defence has still a great deal to do, which I do not think it has. I think also it would be a very wise thing if the House were allowed to know what are the demands of the seamen at the Board of Admiralty. I do not for one moment say, or infer, that I do not trust the First Lord of the Admiralty, but I complain of the system under which we work. The First Lord has to look after finance and a hundred and one things. Supposing anything went wrong. Supposing we had a war eight years ago, when we were in a bad position; we probably would have lost the Empire. Supposing we had, the First Lord would have lost his seat, or the Government would have lost their position; but we should have lost the Empire at the same time, and all because the House did not know exactly what the seamen at the Admiralty Board wanted, and why they wanted it. I confess that for the moment the Board is good, but I think that in the future it is very possible they may be as bad as they were before.
§ *SIR ELLIS ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
I admit there is a great deal in what the hon. Member for York has said, and a great deal with which most Members of the House will agree; but I cannot help feeling that he has, perhaps, a little over-stated the case with regard to the want of organisation for Naval intelligence or plans of a Naval campaign in the Admiralties of the past. I do not know so much of the subject as the hon. and gallant Member does, because I am a civilian, but I cannot help thinking that if the matter were studied very carefully it would be found that the Naval Lords of the past had then their plans of campaign. [Lord C. BERESFORD: Why not carry them out?] That is another question. I believe that had war broken out the Admiralty would not have been found unprepared. At the same time, I agree that the Intelligence Department is a very important one, and my noble Friend is quite justified in taking the credit he has taken for assisting in establishing that branch of the service. Another question which has always struck me as one of the most difficult questions to decide with regard to the points which the noble Lord has just been putting before the House, is how it is possible to do what he wishes—namely, to make the opinions of the Naval Lords public property, and at the same time to maintain Ministerial responsibility. That is the whole question. I agree with him that it is most important that the House and the country should know more than we have known in the past of the genuine opinion of the minds of the Naval Lords. With that I thoroughly agree, but I think it is very difficult to carry it out, and at the same time to make the First Lord the Minister who shall be thoroughly responsible, as he is now, and as he ought to be. Of course, our Ministerial system is by no means perfect in action. It is very nice in theory in this House and in the country; but when it comes to action and dealing with great Military and Naval Powers, and with autocratic Governments like the Government of the Czar, who can, at any moment, by ukase order an expenditure of many millions upon his Navy—whereas we have been agitating the country for years to get the country and the Government to do justice to our Navy— 313 our constitutional system places us at a disadvantage with regard to Naval and Military operations. There is a great deal in what my noble Friend has said, and I think it would be a great advantage if some memorandum could be issued every year with the Naval Estimates explaining generally the demands of the Naval Lords. It would throw upon Naval questions the light of the accurate experience of high-minded Naval officers. Everyone who has the slightest experience of this House, or of Government arrangements, knows what happens in the case of the Army or Navy Estimates. Very excellent representations are put forward by the Military or Naval advisers of the Crown which are more or less accepted by the Board of Admiralty or the Secretary of State for War, and then I believe they are placed before the Cabinet. Well, the Chancellor of the Exchequer objects, or the Cabinet objects, to the expense. They do not think the demands are necessary, and then orders are given to cut down those demands, and sub-orders are issued to the various departments that so much is to be taken off each Vote. I quite agree with the noble Lord that this process has very melancholy results. It must be very deplorable for Naval officers to have to cut down those demands which they believe to be essential for the Service, and it is very hard upon them to be placed in the difficult position of having to resign or see insufficient Votes passed. But, after all, a great deal depends upon the First Lord, as was shown in 1893, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir William Harcourt) came down to this House and stated that Naval opinion justified the insufficient Estimates then put forward. That was a complete mistake. No doubt the then Chancellor of the Exchequer was suffering under some misconception or wrong information. At all events, there was a strong step taken by the First Naval Lord of the Admiralty, to whom the country owes the greatest possible gratitude for his services on that occasion. Sir Frederick Richards was brave enough and strong enough to threaten resignation unless that misleading statement was withdrawn. There is very great danger in the country not being aware of what Naval opinion demands, and it would be very well if some middle course 314 could be adopted by which generally the House and the country could be informed of the opinions of the Naval Lords. Of course, I am bound to admit that it is very difficult. I believe the essential demands of the Military advisers of the War Office are also kept from the public knowledge. But the administrative system of the Board of Admiralty is admitted to be infinitely superior to the organisation of the War Office. Well, the noble Lord also made a statement with regard to the First Lord of the Admiralty being a Secretary of State. I do not know that he can be called a Secretary of State, but at all events, he ought to have the privileges of a Secretary of State. It is monstrous that his recommendations should have to go through the Secretary of State for War. The result has been undoubtedly in the past that a very disproportionate share of honours has fallen to the Navy, though I do not say in the last very few years. There was a general feeling of discontent throughout the Navy that they did not receive more attention and the same proportion of rewards and decorations which the Army received. I believe we have remedied that in the main, but ten years ago there was the greatest possible discrepancy between the number of rewards given to each of the two great Services. I will not trouble the Committee further upon these points, but, as I said before, while I feel that in many cases, as the noble Lord has said, we ought to have arrangements made for better information being given to the House and to the country as to the opinions of the Naval Lords, yet I have no doubt more has been done by the Admiralty and more preparation made by the First Naval Lords for struggles and contests with other countries in the past than my noble Friend has given them credit for.
§ [After the usual interval the Chair was taken by Mr. J. GRANT LAWSON.]
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
I beg, Sir, to call your attention to the fact that there are not 40 Members present.
At the end of the usual interval the CHAIRMAN (Mr. GRANT LAWSON) declared that 40 Members were present, and called upon—
*SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, N. E., Clitheroe)
This is the most convenient opportunity for reviewing the progress made, and still more for reviewing the delays regretted by us all, which have taken place under the Naval Works Act. I rise in order to call attention to what has been done, and to what has not been done in the past year, and also to call attention to the immense importance of those works. It is no exaggeration to say that there is no part of the work which is being done under the Estimates, either in the form of shipbuilding, or in any other form, which is of greater importance than the absolutely necessary works which are being undertaken in various parts of the Empire under the Naval Works Act. I need only remind the Committee that the harbours of Portland and Dover are being constructed and protected, that the great works of Gibraltar are going on; that Hong-Kong is proposed to be made into a port and dockyard, capable of meeting our increasing needs in the Far East, and that a vast addition is being made to the capacity of Devonport Dockyard by the Keyham extension, as well as by the deepening of the approaches to the harbour, in order to show how immensely important is the subject on which I venture to detain the Committee. Parliament has deliberately adopted the policy for various reasons of embodying the expenditure under this Act in an Act of Parliament, and of proceeding by means of an annual Bill; and one of the objects of the annual Bill has been that there should be secured an opportunity to Parliament of annually reviewing all these important works. It is a matter to which I venture to attach great importance, and I say that the late Government were very well advised in proceeding in this form rather than in the way which has sometimes been adopted by Parliament—namely, by passing an Act once and for all. But, as it happens this year, owing to the large sums which were included in the two last annual Bills, and the small expenditure which occurred in each of those two years, and the large balance remaining unexpended, it has not been necessary to come to Parliament for the annual Bill, and, therefore, it is that we are taking this opportunity—I am afraid the only opportunity which will be offered us during the pre- 316 sent Session—of discussing the expenditure under the Act. My hon. Friend opposite the Civil Lord stated in the speech which he made a few nights ago that the main object of obtaining money by Bill, as distinguished by Vote, was that the works should be pressed forward without interruption or check, and that they should not be hampered by want of funds. Now, that was one of the objects, but there were other objects besides that. The Act was to meet a very large expenditure—an extraordinary expenditure—year by year, an expenditure greater than could be borne upon a Vote, and it was owing to the largeness of the expenditure that it was found necessary to proceed by Bill. Now, Sir, I will call attention at once to the form, in which the schedule is presented to us in the annual Bill with the title "Heads of Proposed Expenditure." Under that are various columns showing the total estimated cost and the expected date of completion of each work, the estimated expenditure of the years preceding that in which the Act was passed, and a further column showing the estimated total expenditure from the 1st April of the preceding year to the 31st March of the year in which the Act was passed,, and, finally, there is a column stating the estimated expenditure for the year for which the Act is passed, and it is for the purpose of providing the total sum of money in this last column that the money is provided by a clause of the Bill. Now, Sir, it is rather remarkable that in each of the years concluding respectively on the 31st March, 1897, and the 31st March of the present year, the amount spent fell short by nearly two millions of the expenditure estimated in the Schedule. In the year ending March, 1897, the short expenditure was £1,941,516. For the year which has just concluded it is estimated by the Paper which the Civil Lord has laid upon the Table that the expenditure will fall short of the estimate by £1,767,900. Now, I will proceed to examine two or three reasons which were advanced by the Civil Lord the other day—two or three excuses, I think I must call them—for the failure to spend so large a part of the money which was voted. He told us quite correctly that the amount of money which, it was contemplated would be spent under the Bill of last year, within the 317 year, was £2,742,900, but there had been spent only £975,000, thus leaving the figure which I have just mentioned, of £1,767,900, unspent. His first plea was that that was a provision not for 12 months, but for 16 months—that is to say, that there was always a, risk that Parliament would not be able to pass the next annual Bill until 16 months, or nearly so, had expired, and therefore it was advisable to provide sufficient money, so that the work should not be interrupted, but should go on until the new Act came into force. I fully accept that explanation, but, after all, it only points to this, that ii was necessary that there should be a 25 per cent. margin—a margin of four months out of 16 months. Another reason was that, an outside figure had been placed upon each item. I assume that that is practically the same explanation, but if it were not we should be entitled to say that if any outside figure upon each item, beyond the 16 months' estimated expenditure, was inserted in the Bill, it was a very misleading statement to put before Parliament, and a very bad way of estimating. I, therefore, pass that by, and come to the third statement of the hon. Gentleman. He said that there was always a difficulty in estimating. I am perfectly well aware of that, but it is a difficulty that has constantly been overcome, and it is very remarkable how closely Estimates for the year presented to Parliament correspond each year with the actual expenditure incurred afterwards. Of course, we have instances to the contrary, instances which are debated in Parliament, which are examined by the Public Accounts Committee, which are the subject of reports by the Comptroller and Auditor General, but as to the general difficulty of estimating what will be the expenditure of the year, I do not think the House of Commons can admit that, beyond a very limited point. But the hon. Gentleman proceeded to cite the experiences of the Board of which I was a member, and he proceeded to mention the case of the Keyham Extension, in which he said that our rough estimate of the cost was far below what afterwards proved to be the true estimate. Well, Sir, it is a totally different thing to say that if is difficult to form a total estimate of the expenses of a work which is going to be spread over a large number of years, and to say 318 that it is difficult to estimate the money which you are going to spend in one year. The difficulty which we had in estimating the Keyham Extension was as my hon. Friend knows quite well, that the designs for the extension, and the quantities could not be got out, and it was only intended to be in the nature of a very rough estimate, but when once the quantities of a particular work have been taken out and the plans made and the whole extent of the expenditure from year to year has been closely examined, I think Parliament is entitled to expect that, in introducing a Bill of this character, fairly accurate estimates of the expenditure of the year should be placed in the schedule of the Bill. Therefore, I think we must pass by that excuse. The Civil Lord was very liberal in his admissions, that the progress had been disappointingly slow, and I hope I shall not press him unduly, but, as the works are of enormous importance to the strength, and I might almost say to the existence of the Empire—because, upon their completion depends our state of preparation for any crisis that may come upon us, or any hostilities in which we may be unfortunately engaged—I cannot refrain from pressing home the various instances of short expenditure under this Act. I will take, first, what, from the very outset, has been especially interesting to the House—namely, the works of Gibraltar. I will not weary the House by taking each head separately, but there are three heads of expenditure, and the total estimated cost of the works under those three heads, is the large sum of £4,370,000. Of that sum it was estimated that there would be an expenditure in 1897–98 of £720,000, but the actual expenditure was £317,000. It was not 25 per cent., but 56 per cent. short of what ought to have been expended. I need hardly remind the Committee of the enormous importance of this work. It is necessary that our ships at anchor at Gibraltar should be protected from torpedoes, that the coaling station should be protected, and that there should be docks and a properly equipped dockyard for the repair of our ships in time of war. It is a case of the greatest urgency, and yet up to the 31st March only £317,000 had been spent on these works. I should also like to ask the Civil Lord as to the delay which has arisen in ordering 319 the Titan cranes, which were necessary for the work on the mole. I have been informed by an hon. Friend who visited Gibraltar not very long ago that at the time he was there he heard from a very high authority that those cranes had not even been ordered. We have heard they have been ordered since, but why the work should be delayed for the want of these cranes, which are absolutely necessary for it, we do not know, and we should demand some explanation. I hope I shall not be accused of Party spirit if I remind the right hon. Gentleman that if there had been a shortcoming of 56 per cent. upon such an important work as this at Gibraltar when a Liberal Government was in power we should have had some very severe criticism from the Bench from, which I addressed the Committee. The hon. Gentleman told us the other day that the scheduled time of completion, 1899–1900, would be kept, except in the case of the commercial mole, which would be finished a year later. I heard the statement with great pleasure together with some anxiety. I cannot help thinking that the hon. Gentleman is a little too sanguine.
§ THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. J. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN,) Worcestershire, E.
I do not wish the hon. Gentleman to have any misconception as to what I did say. I did not give any promise or hold out any expectation that the dates I gave would see the final touches put upon the works. When speaking of the completion of the works I referred to the time at which they would give an effective defence.
*SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
I was a little afraid, I listened very carefully, but it seemed too good to be true, especially with regard to the docks. I should like to have a clear statement from the hon. Gentleman of what he has reason to expect; first, as to whether the defences of the harbour, with the exception of the commercial Mole, will be finished at the time stated in the schedule, when the docks will be ready for use, and when the dock- 320 yard will be in a finished state? I suppose the dockyard will be ready before the docks can be used, but I should like to have an explanation upon each of these heads as to each of these works. Then with regard to Portland, the protection of the anchorage and coaling station there is most urgent. The estimated cost of the harbour is £630,000, and the date of completion is 1900–1. The estimated expenditure for 1897–98 was £200,000, and yet we find by the return that only £50,000 has been expended—75 per cent. short of what we ought to have expended there. The right hon. Gentleman informed the House that the completion will be a year late, but consoles himself by saying that in December, 1899, the defences of the harbour should be complete, I regret that such an important work should be a year late, and I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what he really means when he states that the defences of the harbour will be completed in 1899? Does he mean more than that they will be raised to low-water level, or does he mean that they will be actually completed? I am afraid after December, 1899, there will still remain much important work to be done. Now, with regard to Dover, the works are of special importance. We know that that is the only harbour where ships could be safely anchored between the Medway on the one hand, and Portsmouth Harbour on the other, in time of war. £200,000 is provided for the current year's expenditure, and it is really melancholy to look at the results at Dover. There we are not 25 per cent. or 35 per cent. short of the expenditure we ought to have made, but 94 per cent. Only £12,000 has been expended out of £200,000. The hon. Gentleman has informed the House that the contractor is under penalties if he cannot complete the whole of the harbour in 1908. That is satisfactory to hear, but I am afraid we cannot attach the importance which we used to the liability on the part of the contractor to penalties, and I hope my hon. Friend will give some further explanation, as to his certainty that this work will be completed by schedule time. Another important question is the deepening of harbour approaches, for which the total 321 estimate is £960,000, and in last year's Act £200,000 was provided, and yet only £64,000 has been actually expended, whilst in the previous year £183,000 had been spent. We want an explanation how it comes that so much less has been done than in the preceding year. I am prepared to accept the explanation with regard to the Keyham extension works. I understand the contractor, who is one of the largest we have, is a man of great resources and does not need to claim the instalments as a small contractor is anxious to do, but that it is expected that the work will be finished by scheduled time. Passing to Hong Kong, the First Lord, in his printed statement, said that the funds for the dock-yard extension were in hand, but the negotiations for the acquisition of necessary land had been unexpectedly delayed and prolonged, and the Admiralty were not yet in possession of the land required from the War Office and private owners. With regard to the War Office, this is another of those many instances of the extraordinary delay which occurs in every Department of the Government when dealing with another Department of the same Government upon a business matter which, in the case of two business men, would be settled in a few minutes. I could mention a case in which a difficulty existed for years between two Departments. As soon as it was taken up by the Prime Minister of the day as arbitrator it was settled by him, to the great relief of both Departments, in an extremely short time. And now we have this patented invention known as the "Committee of Defence," with the Duke of Devonshire at its head. Why, if the Secretary of State for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty cannot themselves personally arrive at any arrangement in this important matter of having proper dockyard accommodation at Hong Kong, should not the Duke of Devonshire be called in? At all events I think we are entitled to a better explanation than has been given. Now, I am going to make an admission to the hon. Gentleman, and it is this: I am not quite certain that the delay in this case may not have some permanent advantage. There is one question which I hope the First Lord of the Admiralty will very carefully consider, and it is whether it may not be 322 very much better to have a large extension on the mainland, and to make arrangements there at Kowloon, rather than at Hong Kong. I do not wish myself to express any confident opinion on that vexed question, but I do hope that no contrary opinion will be expressed by the representatives of the Admiralty on the present occasion until, at least, they have had an opportunity of a conference with the First Lord's predecessor, Lord Spencer, who has recently visited Hong Kong, and who is exceedingly anxious that the subject should be most carefully considered in the light of the best information. It is difficult to lay too great stress on the necessity of improving the resources of Hong Kong for the repair and refit of the increased fleet in the Far East, and I would ask what is being done, in the meantime, to enable the Commodore and the dockyard to cope with these repairs. In spite of the delay in obtaining the land at Hong Kong, there is a large sum down for Hong Kong. It was intended to spend £100,000, and £81,000 it is anticipated will be spent in the current year. I should be glad if the Civil Lord could give us a little information where this money goes, if the land is not secured. And now, Sir, I pass on to one point more, and it is with respect to the building of the college at Dartmouth for the naval cadets. Here, again, a similar question arises, because we are told in the First Lord's statement that the Admiralty have not yet been put in possession of the land. Well, £40,000 out of an estimate for the year of £100,000 will apparently have been spent up to the 31st March. I think that needs explanation. With respect to the college, I have one or two questions to ask. I do not know how far the plans are completed, but it is usual in cases of this sort to give Members of Parliament an opportunity themselves of judging. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that it is desirable that we should have that opportunity. There are one or two matters which I shall scrutinise with a good deal of interest. I should like to know whether the headmaster—I venture to call him "headmaster," though he is nominally "chaplain"—will reside in the building, whether the assistant masters will also 323 reside there, and whether they will be brought into close contact with the life of the boys in the same manner that masters in the public schools are? I should also like to know what are the proposed arrangements for teaching and discipline, the course of studies, and the exact position of the teachers and the Naval officers in relation to the boys. Now, Sir, I have only to apologise to the Committee for detaining them so long. I have gone through the items which, I think, require explanation, and I hope that in the course of the Debate light will be thrown upon these matters.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
The noble Lord the Member for York, in his statement made earlier in the evening, attached considerable importance to one or two points which have the entire concurrence of myself and of a very large number of people outside this House. He pointed out that the present organisation of the Board of Admiralty, although it gives, by his admission and by my admission, successful results, is at the present time an organisation with regard to the permanence of which we have no security what-ever. The Civil Lord of the late Government, the hon. Member for Dundee, made a statement with regard to the present duties of the First Naval Lord, in the Debate which took place in the last Parliament, which was absolutely satisfactory to myself and the noble Lord the Member for York; satisfactory, that is, as regards what was the then condition, and satisfactory, we believe, as regards what is the existing condition. So long as the First Naval Lord retains his position, his great services and high repute are a guarantee that the system will be worked to produce the best results. But we have no security for the continuance of the present system; it could be changed at any moment. Indeed, it has been changed sometimes before without our knowledge. The duties of the Board are supposed to be a matter which concerns only the working of the Board itself, and what we must insist upon—and shall in-insist upon until we get it—is something like security for the permanence of the existing system. Now, Sir, having said 324 that in support of the observations that fell from the noble Lord the Member for York, I wish to add one word also in support of what he said with regard to the Committee of the Cabinet and its working. Of course,, it is a delicate matter to talk about in this House, but the example which the noble Lord gave to this House, and the example which was given to us in the speech of the hon. Gentleman who preceded him, show the House the need there is for continuous vigilance upon this subject. The whole series of disputes between the Army and the Navy are fatal to the efficiency of both Services if in time of war they continue to exist. They may be fewer in number, there may be less dissatisfaction than there was in former years, but the examples which have been given go to show that the friction which used to exist continues, although it may continue in a less degree. Well, the Civil Lord shakes his head; but, Sir, these small instances are only a type of a larger difficulty which would occur in case of war. What the country really wants to know is, whether they have any security, in the event of war breaking out at the present time, that we should stand better in relation to the Services than we stood in the time of the Crimean War. As for the Malta instance, I cannot help thinking that the submarine operations in connection with the coaling stations and the naval ports ought to be, as they are in the case of every other country, under the control of the Admiralty, and not of the War Office. I pass on to the question which has formed the subject of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me. In the last portion of his observations he laid considerable stress upon what he thinks the immense importance of the docks at Hong Kong, in relation to the present risks of war. I should not be in order in alluding to the relative importance of the position of Hong Kong, as compared with docks in the northern portion of the Chinese Sea; but, undoubtedly, the positions with regard to which there is the greatest urgency are the positions of docks in the neighbourhood of those stations where naval engagements might be expected in the case of war. As regards this, I cannot 325 but think that some position in the North would be of greater importance than Hong Kong, which lies too far South now that Russia has come into possession of the docks at Port Arthur. With regard to Gibraltar, there is no difference of opinion as to the importance of docks there. Not only successive Governments, but everyone who has considered the subject comes to the conclusion that the dockyard extension at Gibraltar is essential to this country. The right hon. Baronet who has spoken has pointed out how great the delay has been in the prosecution of these works, and the explanation put forward by the Civil Lord is the admission that there probably will be delay in consequence of the shortness of expenditure. The cause of that shortness, whatever it may be, has the result that these docks will be delayed. The right hon. Baronet has said that the construction of these docks is a matter of great urgency, and that the main portion of the policy with regard to these naval defence works is a course which was entered upon by the Government of which he was a Member. Unfortunately, the late Civil Lord in a recent discussion went a little bit out of his way with regard to the commencement of those operations, particularly at Gibraltar, and as regards the Naval Works Act generally. Now, Sir, I am not concerned to defend the Navy League which he attacked, for I am not a member of that body, but I am bound to say that the recognition by the Admiralty of the necessity for these docks cannot be credited to the action of either Party in the State. I do not know who was the first to do so, but I know that I took this matter up as long ago as 1888, and there were others who took it up before. I say it was pressure from men like the hon. Member for Belfast and many others which first forced this matter upon the Admiralty, and this was the cause of the Admiralty taking up the matter. I do not think that my hon. Friend was quite justified in claiming absolutely for his Administration the policy of the Naval Works Act, but to whoever the credit for the inception of these docks is due no one now differs with respect to their importance, because everyone admits that it is a matter of first-class importance that all the accommodation 326 possible should be secured at the right spot for the refitting of ships which may be knocked about in a great naval engagement. I am bound to say that the cause of the delay in proceeding with these docks is a matter calling for a very full—indeed, a perfectly clear explanation from the Admiralty. If this delay in Gibraltar were to be taken by itself, if it were a short expenditure which had occurred only there, no doubt we should be more willing to accept any easy excuse which might be made with regard to it than we can under the circumstances of the present case, but here we find short expenditure in the works everywhere. If I call special attention to this case at Gibraltar, it is only because it is the most important and the most pressing of all, and not because in any sense it stands by itself. Now, Sir, I hope that the Civil Lord in the statement he will make to the House will be especially definite upon this matter. He must have a great deal to say to defend the shortness of expenditure with regard to naval works generally, and particularly with regard to this Gibraltar case. The matter is one of such enormous importance that I hope he will say exactly what progress has been made with the construction of these docks, and when he expects to be able to complete them, reference to both of which facts is entirely omitted from the statement he made on the 11th of this month.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
With regard to the expenditure on naval works, I am not surprised that I am asked for some further explanation, but in anything I have to say to the Committee, and in any opinion the Committee may form upon the subject, if I might ask to be allowed to do so, I should wish to keep the two questions entirely disinct. There is a question of the accuracy of the Estimates submitted to the House, and there is a question of the progress which has actually been made or which is being made with the works. It may well be that in some cases we may have failed altogether to approximate to the expenditure which we estimated, and yet I think I have shown, and will show to the House again, that the work has progressed satisfactorily, and that there has been no great delay in the 327 completion of what we have undertaken. Sir, I think that the right hon. Baronet the late Financial Secretary attached less importance than I do, or than he did when he was on the Board of Admiralty, to the desirability of securing that there should be no delay in the work on the score of deficiency of money, and that we always have as much money as can usefully be spent in the year; and while it is perfectly true that the expenditure was intended to provide for works of a permanent character, which might be fairly spread over a number of years, yet another reason, and I think a not less important one, is that under the ordinary Votes of the year it was impossible to provide money to allow the works to proceed without check. That being so, it is always the policy of the Board of Admiralty to estimate widely the possible expenditure that they might incur within the year upon these works, and to make certain that they had provided themselves with sufficient money to carry those works on continuously without check or delay. I regard the sum which I took under the schedule of this Act rather as a Vote on account of the great works which the country desires to see pressed on with all the zeal which we can put in them than as an Estimate of the expenditure which could be incurred within the financial year. [Sir U. KAY-SHUTTLE-WORTH: Will you look at the words of the schedule?] On one occasion, and I regret I did not do it last Session, I purposely altered the words of the Schedule in order to avoid any misconception. I altered the words from "Estimated expenditure for the year" to the words "amount to be provided under this Act," and I think anybody who bears in mind the speech I made last year will see that I carefully guarded myself against pretending that the full amount of money which we took would be expended within the year. There is every reason why, when you are carrying out work under the ordinary Vote, you should adjust your Estimate as near as possible to the expenditure. The money that you take under your Votes has got to be provided by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget arrangements, and if that money is raised but not expended, then you have taken money out of the taxpayers' pockets which might have been 328 left there very much to their advantage. We are not raising the money until it becomes due, and the fact that we provided ourselves with powers to spend great sums of money does not imply that that money will be raised until the expenditure is actually incurred and has actually to be met. Now, Sir, I think the Committee will see from what I have said that I admit the Estimate we framed was a very wide one, and that it was after all—when allowance had been made—a too sanguine one, has been shown by the very much less sum which we have actually spent. Having said so much on the general question, I come to the items which were taken by the right hon. Gentleman the late Financial Secretary, and two of which were discussed in greater detail by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. He took the case of Gibraltar, and he said he thought that of all the works included in the Schedule of the Act, Gibraltar and Hong Kong are the two most important, while the late Financial Secretary picked out Dover as the most important.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
Gibraltar, distinctly; but I certainly regard Hong Kong as a very doubtful illustration.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Baronet spoke of Gibraltar as the most important. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said that special importance attached to Dover. Now, Sir, it is a very curious curcumstance with regard to this matter, as pointed out by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, that the Gibraltar Dockyard Extension is really the creation of this House, and that in itself is an explanation of the delay which has taken place, and which must take place in the pletion of these works. The late Government, when they brought forward their original Naval Works Bill, proposed to construct a single dock at Gibraltar and to make no alteration in the existing dock. In consequence of the discussion in this House the single dock grew, in the Naval Works Bill, to the expression "dock or docks," and the present Board had, therefore, to consider how they could create an efficient dockyard with works at Gibraltar. That 329 totally altered the scheme of work at Gibraltar. It would have been possible to proceed with a, single dock, but it was not in the nature of things—as anybody who has examined the plans which were put before the House could see—possible to proceed with a single dock, built either economically or wisely, when it had become part of a larger dockyard extension, including three docks. The only site on which we could place these docks is the site of the present dockyard, and we cannot get seriously to work with these docks until we have produced a new dock, and to do that we have to reclaim what is at present water, and make solid ground out of the sea. Under these circumstances, the Committee will understand that it is not possible for the large scheme which the Board of Admiralty are now carrying out, which will cost something over £2,500,000, to be completed in the time originally thought sufficient for a single dock. I have been very much pressed by both right hon. Gentlemen who have spoken from the opposite Benches to give out a definite date for the completion of these decks. Sir, I hope they will not insist that I should do so. If they do insist, I shall be bound to give them the best date I can; but I feel that under the present circumstances I should be speaking at a great disadvantage. I hope they will wait until we have completed our contract for works at Gibraltar before forcing me to answer as to the time at which those docks will be completed.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I am glad he will be content with that. I can only say that we will do our utmost to get them complete as early as possible. The Board of Admiralty are quite as conscious as anybody else could be of the importance of having those docks for the use of Her Majesty's Fleet. The late Financial Secretary has asked as to why the Titan cranes necessary for the work on the Mole have been ordered so late, and why the work has been delayed by the neglect of the Admiralty to order these cranes earlier. The right hon. Gentleman's question proceeded on a 330 misapprehension of fact. The work will not be delayed by the non-delivery of the Titan cranes. There has been very serious delay indeed in the delivery of part of the machinery, and what course the Admiralty will have to take in consequence of that will be a matter for very careful consideration when the proper time comes.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Gentleman will see, when I have finished my sentence, that the cranes will be delivered as soon as the Admiralty have any hope of being able to make full use of them. The result of the delay in delivering the block-making plant is that we found it would not be possible to keep the three cranes we have ordered in continuous work in laying blocks. Under these circumstances—and the Committee will see how much alive the Admiralty are to the importance of proceeding with these works—we have decided to alter the construction of the part that remained to be finished of the Mole extension, so as to make it a rubble-mound extension instead of a, concrete block extension. We will thus have sufficient blocks to keep the Titan cranes in continuous and full work as soon as they are delivered and placed in position at Gibraltar. The noble Lord the Member for York credited me the other day with the statement that Gibraltar would be complete as a naval base in the time scheduled in the Act. That was not my statement, and my admission that the dockyard extension would take a considerably longer time will show that I never meant to imply anything of the kind. What I did say was that the defence of the harbour would be complete by the scheduled time, and that would apply equally, or nearly so, to the commercial Mole. Comment has been made on the great deficiency of expenditure as compared with the provision of money in the case of Portland. There is a special reason for that, because the Admiralty at the beginning of the year put the completion of these works out to contract, and the contractor had to take over from the Admiralty the whole of the 331 machinery, and the payment, of the machinery had to be deducted from the first payments he received. The right hon. Gentleman opposite spoke of the special importance of the completion of Dover Harbour. Personally, I wish that view had been taken by the House of Commons many years ago, but, unless my memory misleads me, Dover Harbour is not actually in the first Naval Works Bill as the right hon. Gentleman introduced it. It was inserted in the Amendment in Committee.
*SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
I beg pardon. No expenditure was incurred in the first year; but, if the hon. Gentleman will inquire at the Admiralty, he will find that, from the very inception of the Naval Works Bill Dover was one of the principal points contemplated by the Board of Admiralty.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
No expenditure was provided; but you cannot begin the harbour, you cannot begin your plans until you get the expenditure. The first thing you want to do is to make borings and take soundings. It was an extraordinary thing, if Dover Harbour was from the inception regarded as of special importance, that money was not taken in order to provide for surveys in the first Naval Works Act. Dover Harbour affords an excellent illustration of the fact I have tried more than once to impress upon the Committee, and must impress upon it once again, that this shortage of expenditure does not mean delay in the works. We had hoped the contractor would have been able to get to work comparatively early in the year, but this hope has not been fulfilled. The fact is I have underestimated the length of time it takes to fulfil all the preliminary operations connected with vast engineering works of this kind before tenders could be invited or a contract accepted. But, though the expenditure is a mere nothing during the present financial year upon this work, yet the contractor has bound himself under penalties to complete the work within the scheduled time. The expenditure on dredging is less this year than last, because we have diverted two dredgers to do dredging 332 work which it was thought, necessary to carry out at Bermuda and Malta; but still I have every hope that the dredging programme will be completed very closely to scheduled time. Whilst I am reluctant to increase our own dredging plant, which is very expensive, and will be more than we shall need when once these great works are done, I am equally reluctant to go to a contractor, because all experience proves that dredging work done by contract is one of the most extravagant operations we can well carry out. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the delay which had arisen in getting possession of land at Hong-Kong. The Admiralty desired to get possession of land there; some of it belonged to the War Office and some to private owners. The land which belongs to private owners we have asked the Colonial Office, through the Governor, to secure for us. I hope very shortly we may be placed in possession of it. Some delay has occurred because, unfortunately, one of the owners died while negotiations were going on, and nothing more can be done until his representatives return to this country. With regard to the War Office, I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for York misunderstood the nature of the delays which have taken place. There is, I think I may say, no friction between the War Office and the Admiralty on this matter. We have asked the War Office to transfer to us certain property, and they are making inquiries as to what land they will buy, and what it will cost to put up barracks necessary to replace the barracks they have to hand over to us. I am not surprised if it takes some time to gather that information. The hon. Member for York asked what was being done to meet the present needs of Hong Kong. The most pressing need of that yard is an extension of space, and more room for machinery. I am in hopes that we have already agreed with the War Office with regard to the price of the barracks to be transferred, and I am hopeful we shall come to an arrangement with the owners of the private property. In that case we shall have at once a great addition to the space available at Hong Kong for buildings. The right hon. Gentleman the late Financial Secretary to the Admiralty asked me about the plans for the Naval 333 College at Dartmouth. Those sketches are, at the present time, before the Board of Admiralty, and I hope before very long they may receive the general approval of the Board. When the plans are definitely decided upon I shall be delighted to place them within reach of Members, so that they may examine them. I am sure the Committee will agree with me that it would be impracticable to take the whole 670 Members of the House into our confidence in the preparation of these plans, and listen to the good advice we might, receive from every Member interested in the internal arrangements, or the artistic design. As regards the further question of naval instruction, I may say, generally, that the system of education that is carried on in the Britannia is not in any way jeopardised by our decision to establish a naval college. Whatever alterations have been made in the educational system would have been made if no college had been proposed, and the college would have been proposed if no alteration had been made in the educational system. We do not propose to make any alterations in the position of naval instructors, or of anyone else, merely because the instruction is transferred from a ship afloat to a college on shore. Sir, I think I have answered sufficiently fully the various questions put to me. I come back, in conclusion, to the statement which I made to the House the other night. I admit that, in regard to the initial difficulties and initial progress of many of these works, we have experienced great disappointment, and the delay has been longer than anything I anticipated. But, Sir, I repent that, as regards the most important of the works, and their usefulness, there will, I think, be no material delay, and, in some cases, at any rate, there will be an actual advance upon schedule time presented to Parliament. The Board of Admiralty are doing everything in their power to press on these works as rapidly as possible, and they will continue to do so. If we have erred at all, it has been in taking too generous a view of the rapidity of progress in the early stages of construction; we have not erred in reference to the dates at which these works would come into use by Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I understand that this Vote has been put 334 down to-night mainly for the purpose of allowing an explanation to be made, and a discussion to take place on the delay in the progress in the naval works, and, in anything I have to say, I shall limit myself to this question. I have already had an opportunity of stating to the Committee the impression which the evidence of last year and the year before made on my mind, and I do not think it necessary to enlarge on that question now, more especially as the late Financial Secretary expounded that delay in detail. I have listened to the statement of the Civil Lord of the Admiralty, who has just spoken, and I am bound to admit that the hon. Member has made the very best case that could be made for the Admiralty on this matter. Whether it is entirely satisfactory or not is a question I shall be candid enough to refer to the hon. Member himself, in the full expectation that he will be candid enough to answer. The hon. Member said, or I understood him to say, that, on the whole, the works were progressing satisfactorily. I do not think the House or the country can be expected to accept a general proposition like that. The impression made by a comparison of the figures, that a delay of 35 per cent. of these most urgent works is not to be relieved by a general statement that, on the whole, the works have been progressing satisfactorily. Nor can I adopt the hon. Gentleman's explanation that it was the preliminary difficulties that had caused the delay. Preliminary difficulties, no doubt, are responsible for some, delay, but how can it be initial difficulties in reference to a naval policy which is already represented by three Acts of Parliament, and which ought to be expounded, but for this delay, in a fourth Act? I am entitled to say that the policy is not new, because I know the policy that was represented in the first Naval Works Act. I took care to inform the House, when they accepted that Act, that it was only the beginning of a programme, and that, they must look for further additions before they could say what the programme was. On this question of the Naval Works Act let me put the position before the House in another way. Last year the House passed a Naval Works Act which was intended to apply for one year; that is to be an annual Act. But what is the result? The 335 delay which the hon. Gentleman so Gentleman so ingeniously endeavours to explain in detail as the result of technical difficulties has been such that the Act of last year, which was intended by the Government to be a one-year Act, becomes a two-years' Act. There is another point in this connection to which I wish to refer. The Civil Lord has said to-night, and not for the first time, that the proposed expenditure is not to be taken as an Estimate for the year, but as an Estimate for 16 months. But, Sir, I find that in the Act of 1897–98 the figures are given, not for 16 months, but for 12 months. The hon. Gentleman's explanation can hardly satisfy the House. One advantage of having an annual Bill is that, as new subjects mature in the mind of the Admiralty, they can be placed in the schedule, and explained to the House. We are not going to have that advantage this year; but the question is, are we to assume now that the programme of the Admiralty, in respect of naval works, is exhausted. [Mr. AUSTEN CUAMBERLAIN: The hon. Member must not assume that.] What I was assuming was whether we are to take it that there is nothing more this year, and, therefore, we shall have to wait another year before we can finally ascertain whether the programme of the Admiralty is to be carried out or not. Now, Sir, a great deal that was extremely interesting was told us by the hon. Gentleman about Gibraltar. But there was one tiling which gave me more satisfaction than anything else he said. He said, "Good progress is being made with the mole." Now, Sir, I venture to submit to the Committee that as between docks and moles the urgency and importance is with the mole, and nothing has pleased me more than that assurance from the hon. Gentleman that that part of the work, though not scientifically, or ornamentally, or practically complete, is up to a business level—it is going on, and that is a matter on which I congratulate him and congratulate the Admiralty. I have on various occasions had something to say to the right hon. Baronet about the credit to be assigned for this great piece of Naval policy to various elements in the country, and I have ventured to deny, not so much in respect to Gibraltar, but in respect to absolutely everything else that the Navy League, to which he 336 pins his faith far more than I should, have expected him to do—[Sir C. DILKE: I thought the attack on the Navy League was unfair.] I only said that the Navy League had nothing to do with the matter. Knowing the history of this policy I can say that even in respect to Gibraltar there was not a suggestion of the slightest utility which came from the Navy League.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
The Navy League was not in existence at the time, but pressure was brought to bear upon the Admiralty with regard to Gibraltar by many individuals, and then by a deputation of Members of this House before the Navy League came into existence.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
Well, they afterwards became the Navy League. But apart from the Navy League, take that outside agitation which he speaks of. I deny that it gave any stimulus, or that there was any beneficial suggestion from them either with respect to Gibraltar or anywhere else. The first suggestion made about Gibraltar came in the form of a question addressed to me, which question was: How many docks are there in Gibraltar, and how many are wet docks, and how many are dry ones?
§ *LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
May I interrupt the hon. Member for a, moment, because he is making a statement which he is not quite certain of. I know for a fact that the Commanders-in-Chief of the Mediterranean have year after year written officially to the Admiralty calling attention to the fact that Gibraltar was useless except as a Naval base, and that it was not efficient as a Naval base.
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER, Chairman of Ways and Means, resumed the Chair.]
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
I can confirm in every respect the accuracy of the statement made by the noble and gallant Lord, but that is not the agitation to which I was referring at all. The Admiralty in this matter, as in any other matter, proceeded mainly upon Naval opinion, and I am perfectly well aware that certain representations had been made for a long period and were finally carried into effect in the Naval Works 337 Bill of 1893. It is not much use at this time of day disputing upon a policy of this soft, but I want to vindicate the statement I have made before from the attack made by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean. Now, there is only one other point, and that is a matter of fact, about which I want to say a word or two. I understand that the Civil Lord suggested that the works at Dover formed no part of the policy of the Admiralty embodied in the Naval Works Act, 1893—that Dover was not in the original prospection of that policy. [Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN: Yes, I did say that, but it was a mistake.] That makes it unnecessary, then, for me to say anything more. While I should have been glad to have had the opportunity of supporting another Naval Works Bill, I have to express my thanks to the Government for the opportunity they have afforded us of this discussion to-night. This discussion was the main reason why this Vote was put down, and, perhaps, we shall have an opportunity later on of reverting again to the subject. But I should like to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty now, as I see he has come back to the House, whether I am right in supposing that it was only for the purpose of having a discussion on the Naval Works Act that Vote 12 was put down to-night. I hope he does not mean to take Vote 12 to-night. If vote 12 was allowed to slip through at so early a period of the Session as this, we should find afterwards, as we did before, that it was a great mistake, and that questions which should have been raised could not be raised, because the Votes to which, those questions specifically referred had passed, and Vote 12, containing the First Lord's salary, had passed also, and, therefore, no general opportunity would be left for discussion. I remember on a previous occasion the hon. and gallant Admiral below the Gangway rebuked me severely afterwards for allowing the Vote to pass unchallenged. I want to put before the First Lord this consideration. It is most unusual to attempt to take Vote 12 at this period of the Session. It is the controlling Vote of the Estimates. Everything can be raised upon the salary of the First Lord, a general discussion could take place upon it, and I will appeal to him in justice to 338 the House—he has dealt most fairly with the Estimates on this and on all previous occasions—that he will not attempt to take Vote 12 to-night, but that he will be satisfied to proceed with some other Vote, so as to preserve to the House and the Committee the power of controlling figures which it has always reserved to itself the right to control.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that Vote 12 is always postponed too late in the Session. It was taken in its regular order last year, and again this year it has come in its regular order. I put this Vote down to-night for the purpose of giving an opportunity to hon. Members of fully discussing these questions. We have two hours yet before us, and I hope that will be sufficient, and even if it were postponed to next Friday I do not think the hon. Gentleman would gain much by that. I will accede this much—that Vote 8 shall be reserved to a later time of the Session; I think that ought to meet the ideas of the hon. Gentleman, because otherwise it would come to this, that we are not to make progress with the real Estimates at all.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
I am afraid I did not make myself quite clear to the right hon. Gentleman. It is Vote 12 only that I want postponed, and that because it contains the right hon. Gentleman's salary. What I suggested was that Vote 12 should be kept back because it contains the salary of the First Lord of the Admiralty. It is not a question of an hour or an hour and a half to-night, it is a question of keeping the Vote back to a later period of the Session. Usually, in my own experience, it has been taken in July, and it is very convenient to take it in July.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
I think that other hon. Members would object to that arrangement, because I have been asked to defer Vote 8. I cannot undertake to put Tote 12 off until later on in the Session.
I did venture to call in question the adroitness of the hon. Member for Dundee in allowing this Vote to pass unchallenged last year, and I 339 share with him in the view that it would be convenient to allow the Vote to stand over, I know that last year I was very anxious to mention some subjects in which I was particularly interested, and I was barred from so doing because this Vote had passed. At any rate, I shall have a word or two to say upon this Vote before it passes now, as otherwise I shall be out of order if I rise later on. I am not going to find any fault with the hon. and learned Member for Dundee in blaming a Public Department for the delay in carrying out the works under the Naval Works Act; I only wish he would blame the right parties. It is not the Admiralty which is to blame, but the War Office. In the First Lord's statement last year in regard to Hong Kong—which is a very important matter—he said—Owing to the length of time occupied in communicating with such a distant station, and to the necessary negotiations with other Departments, it has not been found possible to commence the work as yet, but, it is hoped that plans will be shortly presented, and the work will then be put in hand without delay.That is a year ago. What do we find today, or rather the other day, in the First Lord's statement? Almost the very same words—Plans are in hand, but the negotiations for the acquisition of the necessary land have been unexpectedly difficult and prolonged, and the Admiralty are not yet in possession of the land to be acquired from the War Office and private owners.So that the whole fault lies with the War Office and not with the Admiralty. So I again say, lay the blame on the right shoulders. It is a horrible state of things that the Naval work of this country should be delayed by the slow rate in which everything connected with, the War Office moves, and if the War Office would only borrow a little from the energy of the Admiralty, it would be much better for the public service. There is another matter I wish to criticise in the First Lord's statement. In page 75 of last year's statement, with regard to the arrangements at Plymouth, he says—The Plymouth Division ranges are also not yet available, and the firing of the men has still to be carried out at Browndown.340 Again, what do they say this year with regard to those arrangements—The question of acquiring the necessary land for the Plymouth ranges is now under the consideration of the War Office, and meanwhile the Marines of the Plymouth Division, are still carrying out their firing at the Army ranges at Browndown.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The War Office were acting with us in the negotiations. As my hon. and gallant Friend knows, the taking of land under compulsory powers is a matter of some complication.
After that explanation I will not pursue that matter. Now there is another matter which I think ought not to be passed over while we are upon this Vote. I refer to the overtures that have been made to the Admiralty to take over or improve the dock accommodation at Auckland, in New Zealand A valuable dock has been built there, at the expense of the Colony, at a cost of about £300,000, called the Calliope Dock because the Calliope was in dock there before she went to Samoa, and it was due to her being able to take in a supply of good New Zealand coal that she was able to give so good an account of herself in the hurricane at Samoa.
Application has been made to the First Lord of the Admiralty with regard to this dock; I hold the correspondence in my hand. I may remind the First Lord that there is precedent for the Admiralty furnishing assistance in this way. A grant-in-aid was given for the construction of a dock at Halifax. In Vote 10 I see there is an instalment of £2,050 which is described as the "eighth instalment or contribution towards new docks at Halifax"; if the other instalments were of the like amount, that would make nearly £20,000, and I do not know whether that is the total amount. So that the principle of making grants-in-aid has been recognised.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
The hon. Member is not entitled on this Vote to discuss the question of grants-in-aid.
§ CAPTAIN G. R. BETHELL (Yorks, E.R., Holderness)
Last year I drew attention to the question of the Bombay dock, west the Commercial dock at Bombay, and the First Lord said that that matter would not receive consideration—
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
Order, order! That question arises not on this Vote, but on the Vote for Works.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
The discussion that has been raised upon this Vote has been of rather a general character. Now my noble Friend the Member for York wishes that the First Lord should be a Secretary of Stats. I am perfectly willing to remain at the Admiralty without being a Secretary of State. I think on the whole the administration of the Admiralty—I am not speaking, of course, of the present Board—has been generally a success, and the system by which the First Lord is not so much a Secretary of State as part of the government of the Navy has worked more satisfactorily than the corresponding system in the Army. I believe it would be regretted by the Naval service if the First Lord was made a Secretary of State, not working with his Naval colleagues as colleagues, but as advisers. Then there was a suggestion, I do not know whether by my noble Friend or by some other hon. Member, that the Admiralty has not the same power with reference to honours as is enjoyed by the Army. No doubt the formal application is passed on through the War Office, but the actual decision as to the honours to be given, so far as it rests at all with the Department, rests exclusively with the Admiralty, and the War Office is only the channel through which the recommendation passes. But the honours are not given either by the Admiralty or the War Office, but by the Crown. They emanate from the Sovereign. The Admiralty and the War Office are only, as it were, the funnels through which the honours pass. That might be remedied, but after all it is only a formal difficulty, and I would not, for the sake of getting over a formal difficulty of the kind, sacrifice the old consti- 342 tution of the Admiralty, by which the First Lord is part of the Admiralty, and, as such, takes part in the regular government of the Navy, side by side with professional and naval colleagues. It is a system that really I think has worked well, and given satisfaction to the Service at largo. I think my noble Friend himself would be sorry to see the First Lord separated from his Naval colleagues and become a Minister in a different direction. Then something has been said by my noble friend and the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean with reference to the responsibility of the Naval members of the Board. Now it must be remembered that after all it is the Parliamentary Minister who must really be held responsible to Parliament for the Estimates and so on, and I think it would lead to every kind of difficulty if the First Lord of the Admiralty were to present his Estimates to the House side by side with the memorandum of the Naval Lords when that is presented, so that the House would have to discuss whether the view of the Naval Lord or that of the First Lord should prevail. What we have to do is to bring them in together; that is what we do now, and that is what I consider to be a satisfactory system. The Naval Lords and the First Lord agree together, but if there should be a kind of conflict between them, where would be the responsibility of the Ministers? If the House voted against the First Lord, the only course for the First Lord would be to resign, and the Naval Lords would be paramount On the other hand, suppose that Parliament (which is quite as probable) took the line of accenting the view of the First Lord of the Admiralty, what would then be the decision of the Naval Lords? They would have to resign. ["No."] Yes. After they had committed themselves to a document, which they had put before the House, they would have no other course but to resign if that were rejected. Certainly so long as I look upon the work of the system of the Admiralty as I do now, it appears to me that it is the only system compatible with Parliamentary government, and I know of no other country where the views of different members of the same office should be thrown down before the House, for the House to choose between them. 343 I do not think the change would lead to any satisfactory result. If when the views of the First Lord are presented in the Estimates as a whole, the House considers that they are not satisfactory, they will decide against the First Lord. But, on the other hand, if the First Lord made such proposals to the House as could not be justified by the Admiralty, it is certain that they would know how to act in the circumstances, and looking to the future. It is just the same with the Cabinet. In the case of the Cabinet the views held by one section of course have to yield to the views of another section. But if the two sections of the Cabinet were to place their views before the House of Commons, and the House had to decide whether the Foreign Secretary or the Chancellor of the Exchequer was right, what would then be the result on the cohesion of the Government? I value the cohesion of the Board of Admiralty as I value the cohesion of the Government. We must have unity and harmony of action. There must be an exchange of views and a little give and take, but in result there must be unity and harmony of action. On the whole I think this system has worked well. There may be difficulties occasionally, but while we are under Parliamentary government it is the responsible Ministers—and I know it is a Great responsibility—who have to decide on these great questions. My noble Friend wishes every question, as I understand it, or many questions on different subjects between the Army and the Navy, to be referred to the Defence Committee of the Cabinet. Well, the Defence Committee of the Cabinet would have a great deal to do if it had to decide whether the lawn tennis ground at Chatham should be given up to the War Office or not. There is a very easy and ready manner in which all questions in difference between the two Departments can be settled, and are settled now. The moment any questions arise, if there is any delay in settling them we immediately get the Admiralty and the War Office together, and they settle matters between them. That is the course we have continually pursued without the slightest disadvantage. The Defence Committee of the Cabinet has to deal with much larger questions than 344 these. Some hon. Members think that public announcement should be made of when they meet and what they do. Well, there are many other Committees of the Cabinet which meet, and as to which nothing is made public. In addition to the Defence Committee there is a Joint Naval and Military Committee who continually meet, and who discuss all sorts; of questions. I assure the House that we have gone very much further in the matter of communications) between, the Army and Navy Departments than is generally supposed. There is scarcely a question where the two offices do not come into contact where there are not means of coming to a settlement by personal communications. I think so far that this has been a satisfactory system. There is nothing that we detest, more than any differences between the Departments that should delay any works, and I can assure the House that in the future as in the past I shall give my personal attention if there are any Departmental difficulties which seem to impede the progress of works, and shall do my utmost to remove them.
§ DR. TANNER
With regard to what fell from the hon. Member the Civil Lord—and, if he will allow me to say so, the civilest Lord of the Admiralty that I have had the pleasure of listening to in this House—the way in which the hon. Member dealt with the questions that were put to him shows that he is one who in due process of time will rise to a high position. But I rise with the painful duty of moving a reduction in the Vote. We have had this evening a somewhat desultory conversation that went between Hong Kong and Gibraltar. After all it may be strange for me to say it, but I never was in Hong Kong. Still I know something about Hong Kong. Hon. Members and the gallant Admiral, who knows more about it than perhaps many in the House, know that the Naval station for Hong Kong is at Kau-Lung. I had a, relative stationed there at one time as Instructor—
§ DR. TANNER
I was merely pointing out how Hong Kong was unprotected, and as a matter of fact from the Kau- 345 Lung side it has been clearly shown in the course of this Debate that Kau-Lung, being within a, mile of Hong Kong and commanding Hong kong—
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I have already pointed out to the hon. Member that that subject does not, arise upon this Vote.
§ DR. TANNER
Well, Sir, I am on the Vote for the First Lord, and in connection with that Vote every facility is usually offered for discussion. I want to point out that Hong Kong is unprotected—
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I hare, already twice pointed out to the hon. Member that his remarks are irrelevant. I would ask him to discontinue, his speech.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
Order, order. I have already requested the hon. Member to discontinue his speech. The hon. Member will resume his seat.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I request the hon. Member, in consequence of his continued disorderly interruptions, to withdraw from the House.
§ DR. TANNER
Certainly, Sir, with greater pleasure than ever I came in. Let the Cecils and Salisbury's and all the lot stay and do their dirty work if you: like. [The hon. Member then left the House. The record of this incident in the Votes and Proceedings is as follows—The Chairman called the attention of the Committee to continued irrelevance on the part of Dr. Tanner, Member fur Mid Cork, and directed him to discontinue his speech, but Dr. Tanner disregarded the direction of the Chair. Whereupon the Chairman, in pursuance of Standing Order No. XXVII., relating to disorderly conduct, directed him to withdraw immediately from the House during the remainder of this day's Hitting, and he withdrew accordingly."]
§ MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I desire, to ask ii question with, regard to the employment of unskilled labourers in the building yard at Deptford.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
The only questions which can be raised on this Vote are those which cannot be raised on the other Votes.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
If the hon. Member likes he may raise the question on Vote 2 That is the proper occasion on which to raise it.
§ Vote agreed to.
Motion made and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding £650,000, be I granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Works, Buildings, and Repairs, at Home and Abroad, including the cost of Superintendence, Purchase of Sites, Grants in Aid, and other Charges connected therewith, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1899.
I will not detain the Committee long, but I want to draw attention to the application which has been made to the First Lord with regard to the Auckland Dock. That dock was opened by the former Governor of New Zealand in 1888. It is a dock so large that it will accommodate two of our cruisers of the largest size. Its extreme width is 500 feet. It is 80 feet, wide at the entrance, and it is 33 feet over the sill. There is land at one side of it suitable for the erection of repairing works. Sir William Jarvis, in opening that important, dock, said he hoped that the dock might become a centre for naval purposes. He was supported by the Commander of the Station, Admiral Fairfax, who promised to report to the Admiralty in favour of Imperial support being given to the dock. New Zealand possesses unlimited supplies of coal; it possesses the finest timber in the world; if has a lovely climate, and we could not have a better place for a naval station. It is 1,200 miles or more from Sydney, where we have a moderate naval establishment. I may mention that the naval authorities themselves assisted the construction of the Sydney dock by 347 handing over land worth at least, two millions of money. I am afraid tint the Admiralty will take the view that, having one deck in Sydney, that is enough for the whole of that seaboard; but here you have a dock ready to your hands which costs you nothing. In the case of Halifax, as I have already pointed out, you have given a grant in aid of the making of the dock; but in this case the colony of New Zealand asks fur no such grant; it merely asks for assistance to enable it to provide the necessary workshops and plant for repairs. I think that is a demand that perhaps is not quite reasonable, but I might Venture to suggest that the Admiralty might make a, grant in aid, similar to that which they made for the dock at Halifax, and let the Auckland Harbour Board build their own workshops. I told a gentleman from New Zealand, who waited upon me to ask me to support the claim, that I did not think that the Treasury would consent to make an annual grant, but they might be invited by the right hon. Gentleman to make a grant in aid for these works. I do venture to say that this is a subject worthy of the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord and his advisers. When a Colony has gone out of its way to build a beautiful dock of this magnitude, it seems a, thousand pities to throw cold water on their efforts when we know that they are loyal to us, and are anxious to have a naval station in their neighbourhood, I hope the matter will receive attention, but I hope it will not receive the cold shoulder. Then, Sir, I want to ask a question with regard to the Royal Naval College. We are told that the Admiralty are not yet in possession of the land—
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
That is in the Naval Works Bill. There is no money whatever for the College in this Vote.
Then I must not pursue that question any further; it must be left for private negotiations over a friendly cigar.
§ MR. F. G. BARNES (Kent, Faversham)
I should like to say one or two words upon a question which, at all events, from my point of view, is one of national importance. I refer to the question of 348 lengthening one of the Sheerness docks. At an earlier hour this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty said that it was not always convenient to answer questions off hand on the floor of the House, but I recollect that, on a previous occasion, when I drew the attention of this House to the very important matter of the want of dock accommodation at Sheerness, I said I did not wish to press the right hon. Gentleman for a statement on the subject at that particular moment, but that I hoped the matter would be taken into consideration by the Admiralty. Now it has been the policy of successive Governments to spend considerable sums annually on dredging the Medway. I do not wish to discuss that policy, nor do I wish to criticise it adversely, but I want to press upon the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, or those who represent the Admiralty at the present moment on the Front Bench, the very great want of accommodation for large vessels at Sheerness. At the present time larger vessels can be built at Sheerness than it is possible to dock for repairs, and I need not take up much time in pointing out the very great disadvantage which might attend the present arrangement under certain circumstances. For instance, in time of war, a large quantity of plant and machinery and so forth, that could be utilised for repairs, might be lying idle, while ships too large to find accommodation for repairs would have to pass by the dockyard on their way to Chatham, with the chance of being further damaged, and with the possibility of foundering on the way, and thus cutting off communication by blocking the waterway. We know that the right hon. Gentleman has given very great attention to dock accommodation and naval works at Gibraltar, Dover, and elsewhere, and considering; the very important position of Sheerness, its comparative proximity to the North Sea, and I think I am right in saying the immense advantages the place affords for purposes of mobilisation in the time of war, I feel strongly the necessity of bringing this matter forward, not only as a subject which is naturally of interest to my constituents, but as a subject which is from my point of view also of national 349 importance. I ask the Civil Lord, or whoever answers on behalf of the Admiralty, to give the Committee some indication that this question will receive attention at no very distant date.
§ COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
I have a question to ask upon a matter which is I am afraid, almost a "hardy annual"—namely, the absence of any provision in this Vote for a dock on the Clyde. The hardship of devoting so much money to England and so little to Scotland has been pointed out, and it has also been pointed out that in the event of a disaster to one of our big vessels taking place on the west coast of Scotland there is practically no dock whatever on that coast capable of easy access and at, the same time capable of accommodating a vessel of the largest size. A deputation waited upon the Admiralty some time ago, and they were received, of course, with the kindness and courtesy which the Admiralty always extend, but no steps have been taken in the matter. Those who know what, is required, feel compelled to bring the matter to the notice of the Admiralty, and to ask that it shall be considered. We do not want much. We do not want anything like what we are entitled to get, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Admiralty cannot see their way to grant some moderate subsidy, sufficient to provide at Greenock, or some other suitable place, a dock capable of taking in one of Her Majesty's large vessels.
§ *MR. J. LOWLES (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
With regard to the question of the dock at Auckland, my claim to the attention of the Committee consists in the fact that I have just returned from New Zealand, and from my personal observations I can say that it is of the utmost importance to our possessions there that our naval bases should be strengthened. We have, it is true, a magnificent naval station at Esquimalt, in the North Pacific, but there is nothing between ther and Sydney, and the fad that we have no direct telegraphic communication between them renders it most important that we should shorten the distance between those two stations. In the present state of affairs it is just possible that the scene of activities may 350 shift to the neighbourhood, of the South Sea Islands, and it is of the first importance that we should strengthen our position in that quarter. Auckland offers a magnificent harbour; it, is four days nearer Esquimalt than Sydney; a splendid dock has been built at the cost of the Colony, and with very moderate help from Imperial funds a naval station could be provided, which is most urgently needed for the maintenance of our interests in hose waters. All that the Colony asks for is that the Admiralty should co-operate in making this dock effective as a naval base. This small concession would gratify the aspirations of a loyal and patriotic Colony, and I trust the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to grant it.
§ MR. T. C. T. WARNER (Stafford, Lichfield)
On page 127 there is an item of £125 for drainage and water supply at Gibraltar. That is a small item, but on the opposite page there is an item of £7,162 for "minor new works, additions, etc.," in the Mediterranean. This latter item, I understand, must include Gibraltar. I should like to know how it is that this item comes in here, when the docks at. Gibraltar are provided for under the Naval Works Act. [Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN: That is the present work; it is not the new works.] But I understand that the old works have been done away with; the new works have taken I the place of the old works, [Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN: Not entirely.] Of course, there are some old works, but the bulk of them have been superseded by the new works. Now, Gibraltar is not a very large place. The hon. Gentleman knows Gibraltar as well as I do, no doubt, and he knows that there is not room for new and old works, and the new works must have taken the place of the old works to a very large extent. That being so, I do not understand why we are voting this large sum of money, and a sum of money that is undefined, because we have two Mediterranean stations, Malta and Gibraltar, and we do not know how much of this sum will go to the one and how much to the other.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member probably knows that there has been for some time a coaling sta- 351 tion at Gibraltar, and necessary repairs have to be done there, which have to be provided for out of this Vote, and not out of the Naval Works Act; also there are certain magazines, and money has to be provided for ordinary repairs in connection with those works. As regards the question of dock accommodation, the Committee will see that there are many claims upon the attention of the Admiralty for assistance in building docks. I can only say, in regard to the docks at Auckland, what is, I think, already known to the Committee, that the matter has been brought to the notice of the Admiralty; it is now before the Board. I cannot say at present what their decision will be, but they are giving the matter their careful attention, and I do not think their decision will be unduly delayed. It is suggested that we should also increase the size of the docks at Sheerness, and that we should build a dock on the Clyde, and in the Humber as well, and I have no doubt, if the discussion continued, we should have still further suggestions. Sir, I do not wish to say anything that would limit the policy of future Boards of Admiralty, or make it difficult for them to do what they may think necessary, having in view all the circumstances at the time. The duty of the present Board of Admiralty is to make a comprehensive survey of the needs of the Fleet, and to carry out the works that are urgently required. It is a matter of the selection of the works which are deemed to be of first importance. We do not lose sight of the insufficiency of dockyard accommodation in other places, but we have asked the House to provide money for those works which we consider to be most urgently needed.
§ MR. WARNER
The hon. Gentleman says there are victualling and coaling stations at Gibraltar which have to be provided for. That is true, but I want to see what part of this money goes to Malta, and what to Gibraltar. The coaling station and the victualling yard, of course, have to go on, I quite agree, but the point is that this is lumped in with the large and important works at Malta.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
In Part I. there are various works which are proposed to be undertaken at Malta. There is nothing about Gibraltar there. 352 Perhaps the hon. Member will look up the items, and tell me exactly what it is that he requires to be explained.
§ CAPTAIN BETHELL (Yorkshire, E.R., Holderness)
Will my hon. Friend tell us the nature of the works that have been going on at the Falkland Islands? It was mentioned that about £3,000 altogether had been spent on those works. Will the hon. Gentleman be good enough to tell us the nature of the works that have been made there? At the same time perhaps he will tell us how far the proposals for the acquisition of land at Mauritius have gone, whether it has only pot as far as a survey, or whether the land has been acquired. Then I would mention a question I referred to last year as to the dock at Bombay. I believe the dock at Bombay is long enough but not broad enough to take in big ships. I should be glad to know if it is proposed to make any alterations there so as to make the dock available for the largest ships.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The Board has been conducting an inquiry to see what is necessary to provide a small depôt for the needs of the Fleet at the Falkland Islands. That inquiry has been, completed, but we have not yet had time to consider the course we shall take. That is another matter which is now receiving our attention, and although we have come to no definite determination at present we have put in a small sum to enable us to make a commencement at the works if we determine to commence upon them. The survey of Mauritius spoken of last year has been completed, and the results of that survey are now before us, and communications are passing between the Admiralty and other Departments in relation to that. [Captain BETHELL: Has the site been acquired?] No, no land has been acquired yet. Then I was asked about the dock at Bombay. I think the hon. and gallant Member is right as to the dimensions of the dock. I can only say that at the present time the Admiralty do not propose to spend any money on further dock enlargement at Bombay. It does not come within the class of matters which we consider urgently necessary, and for which, as I have explained, we have thought it necessary to provide.
§ MR. WARNER
I can now give the hon. Gentleman the references he asked for. On page 126, under the head of "Minor new works, additions, etc.," there is the item "Mediterranean, £7,162." Then on the next page there is the item "Gibraltar, drainage and water supply, £125." I should like to know why those two things are put separately.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Certain works are being executed by the Colonial authorities which we have to pay for. The explanation is exactly what I supposed, and what I suggested to the hon. Member before. Part III. is for "Ordinary repairs and maintenance, etc."; that is, at the naval establishments at home and abroad.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The expenditure is according to the proportionate requirements of the two stations. If it is not found necessary to spend the exact half on one station, the difference will go to the other.
§ SIR G. S. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
Personally I should like to have seen a much larger sum put down for the dock at Jamaica. I think the provision of dock accommodation there is a matter which urgently demands the attention of the Admiralty. Then there is a point I mentioned last year as to the provision of some dock accommodation for the Fleet between Gibraltar and the Cape of Good Hope. I think it would be very desirable to have a naval base somewhere between those two stations, and I would ask the hon. Gentleman the Civil Lord whether he can give us any information.
§ MR. WARNER
On page 119, under the heading of "Dockyards Abroad," there is the item for "Dredging at Malta, £6,000." That appears to be a new item. It may be a mistake on my part, but I do not think there was any Vote for that last year. It is a large item, and I should like to ask what has arisen to cause that expenditure. Further, I should like to know whether we have the machinery for doing the dredging, or whether the contract has been placed out with somebody.
§ MR. WARNER
Then I see there is an item of £5,000 for dredging at Bermuda. Is that for the same purpose? I see that there was no money expended last year upon that work.
§ *SIR J. COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
With regard to the question of a grant-in-aid for the dock at Auckland, I trust, as the Admiralty are considering it, that they will not consider it in an abstract way. I think the time has come for a, thorough examination of our whole position in the other hemisphere. It is quite true that it has been customary to give grants-in-aid, and, indeed, it has become too much the custom for a colony to build a dock and then come to the mother country for support because it is a poor colony. If hon. Members will consult the Returns that are before the House they will find that the revenue of New Zealand is about the equivalent, or a little more, of the revenue of Chili, which is just opposite in the same ocean, and we all know that Chili maintains a very considerable naval force, and New Zealand does not. We should be very careful, I think, in holding out hopes of grants to colonies who are practically not doing their duty in regard to naval defence to the same extent that the people of the United Kingdom are doing. It is only in the last 30 years that the necessity for naval bases has been recognised. I am bound to say that I think the arguments in favour of naval bases may be carried too far, but, I do ask the Admiralty with reference to this question at Auckland that they will turn their attention to the whole question of our arrangements for the defence of the sea, in the other hemisphere. That is a matter to which I think we are not, paying sufficient attention. I think, on the whole, we should be extremely cautious how we give grants-in-aid to colonies which build docks, half complete the works, and then ask us for more money. I think the time has come when we should really point out to our colonies more distinctly than we have yet done the enormous burden that this country is bearing for the protection of those colonies, and that they are not bearing anything like the proportion that is borne by this kingdom, or by almost any other country in the world. The whole question of our position in the 355 Pacific should be considered. I would remind the House that this matter was before a Select Committee of this House at the time when responsible Government was given to West Australia. At that time I had the honour of pressing on the Committee the desirability of making satisfactory arrangements for a naval base, but Colonial authorities said that the Colony would resist anything like a naval base being established under Imperial control. While I strongly advocate doing everything that is possible in the defence of our colonies in the Pacific, I am not prepared to support this policy of giving grants-in-aid.
§ MR. LOWLES
I think I may tell the hon. and gallant Member that the feeling in the Colony has changed since the time he referred to. The Premier of Western Australia told me that the feeling of the Colony now is in favour of making a naval base in St. George's Sound, and that the Colony would give every co-operation to the Imperial Government in that matter.
§ MR. J. DALY (Monaghan, S.)
I wish again to draw the attention of the Committee to the treatment, of Haulbowline. On page 118 there is an item for "Improving accommodation for workmen," at Haulbowline, but the amount is left blank.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Will the hon. Member allow me to explain? That is an omission by the printers. I have only just noticed it. If he will add up the column he will find that the sum of £2,300 is included.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Not at all. I was simply explaining that it is a mistake of the printers. The money is included in the Vote.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
If the hon. Gentleman will turn to the Vote for the Educational Services he will see that there is £2,000 provided towards the expenditure upon a recreation 356 ground, and there is another £5,000 in another Vote. That is independent of the larger sum provided under the Naval Works Act, which naturally lessens the demand he has made. I can assure him that we have met all the pressing requirements of Haulbowline, and shall continue to do so.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding £650,000, be granted for the said Service."—(Captain Pirie.)
§ Debate arising—
§ CAPTAIN D. V. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
I can only wish that the Junior Lord of the Admiralty would have been able to give as satisfactory an answer to the representations which have been made to him by the hon. Member for the Kilmarnock Burghs as he has given to the hon. Member who spoke about Haulbowline. The hon. Member for the Kilmarnock Burghs brought forward in very concise words the utter neglect of Scotland under this Vote. Now I am not going to adopt the usual process in this House of, when you want more money, moving a reduction of the Vote. I do not want more money, but I want the money equitably expended, and, I say, the complete negligence with which Scotland is treated, has become nothing less than a public scandal. On the whole of the cast coast of Scotland there is not a single dockyard capable of accommodating Her Majesty's ships. Having regard to the very unsatisfactory answer which has already been given, I have no other course than to move a Resolution to reduce the Vote by £100.
§ MR. J. H. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
I am afraid it is rather late now to continue the Debate with any prospect of a useful purpose being served, but I wish to support my hon. Friend in protesting against the neglect of Scotland in the matter of naval works. I, in common with other Scotch Members, am continually receiving complaints from some of the leading firms in Scotland, that they are not allowed to make any estimates whatever with regard to the expenditure of public money for naval purposes. This is not a mere constituency complaint; the thing is general; it is felt throughout all the industrial centres of Scotland. I think we are entitled to 357 ask for, at any rate, this assurance, that in any expenditure that has got to be made, the Scotch firms shall have an opportunity of estimating in common with the English firms. The House knows that Scotchmen are never influenced by any paltry considerations of money, but we feel that Scotch work is fully up to the highest standards of English work, and we demand an opportunity of competing on level terms.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
There must be some strange misconception on the part of hon. Members from Scotland, because, as a matter of fact, we get tenders from Scotch firms whenever we have work to give out which can be done by Scotch firms. We are only too desirous of extending the area, of competition. I can assure hon. Gentlemen that we give Scotland as fair a share as we possibly can in the expenditure of public money, and I am bound to say that I think the Clyde generally manages to secure a very fair share of the work which we have to give out.
§ MR. DALY
The right hon. Gentleman said that shipbuilding contracts were freely given to the Clyde, and I thought I might question him as to why tenders for similar work were not invited from Irish firms. [The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY: They are.] If the right hon. Gentleman will give me that assurance, I will not pursue the subject.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I rise to more that you, Sir, report progress, and I will very shortly state my reasons. When right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury rose to move to suspend the Standing Orders, he stated, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire, that the object was to get Vote I, and that 358 the suspension of the Standing Orders would not be used for any other purpose. ["No, No!"] I am certain that that will be borne out by the report of what the right hon. Gentleman said. Now I beg to say this: that, there is no man in this House more honourable in keeping his promises than the present First Lord of the Treasury, and I venture to say that if the right hon. Gentleman were now sitting on that bench he would at once loyally acknowledge the obligation, and consent to your reporting progress accordingly. I therefore move, Sir, that you report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That the Chairman do report progress, ant ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Caldwell.)
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
I hope the hon. Gentleman will not persist in this Motion. There has been a very full discussion, and I am sure that ample opportunity has been given to hon. Gentlemen opposite to raise any questions they desired to raise We do not like to commence the works until we obtain the sanction of the House. Are we to put off the new works because we cannot get the money? We always put this Vote down early in the Session in order that we may begin the works promptly. I will move to report, progress the moment this Vote is passed. I trust that upon that assurance the hon. Member will withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. CALDWELL
With great deference, I say that we ought to insist that an honourable understanding shall be observed. The right hon. Gentleman stated that if he got Vote I he would be satisfied. Well, you have got Vote I and Vote 2, and you got Vole 2 very much against the will of some hon. Members on this side of the House, who were very anxious to keep that Vote open. You have got far more than the First Lord of the Treasury intended to insist, upon. It simply comes* to this: is an honourable understanding to be made only to be broken? I never heard of such a proceeding.
*SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
My hon. Friend behind me is, no doubt, accurate in his version of the statement made by the Leader of the House, but, after all, there has; been a pretty complete discussion of this Vote, and it is 359 now five minutes past 12 o'clock. From my own official experience I can bear out what the right hon. Gentleman has said, that it is of real administrative importance to begin any new works included in the Navy Estimates at the earliest possible time. It has happened before that works have often been delayed, to the great detriment of the interests of the country, because it has been inconvenient to take the Works Vote at an early date. Therefore, I hope this Motion will not be pressed. I think there are very few questions of real importance that have not been discussed, and I think we may fairly let the right hon. Gentleman take this Vote to-night, on the assurance that progress will be reported immediately afterwards.
§ MR. EDWARD MORTON
I should be extremely loath, and I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lanark would be equally loath, to delay any necessary public works, but I think it is obvious that the only interest the Government has in getting this Vote now, as they have fixed the number of days on which Supply shall be taken, is, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that they may at once begin on the new works. I would ask what serious objection there can be to allow us to report progress before this Vote is taken, and putting the Vote down for the first day available for Supply. That would only delay it for a week.
§ I happen to know several hon. Members who intended to speak on this Vote, and who left the House at 11 o'clock under the belief that the Vote would not be taken to-night, because they understood the First Lord of the Treasury earlier in the evening to say that if he got the Vote he would be satisfied.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
I believe hon. Gentlemen misunderstood what my right hon. Friend said. The only object we have is to proceed with those works which are absolutely necessary.
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined now to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I am perfectly clear as to what the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury said. The First Lord of the Admiralty insisted on getting the second Vote, and so jeopardised this Vote; so that it is his own fault if any inconvenience arises. We had an honourable understanding, and I think it ought to be adhered to. I shall therefore go to a Division.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 17; Noes 131.361
|Daly, James||Maddison, Fred.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Pirie, Captain Duncan||Williams, Jno. Carvell (Notts.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Kilbride, Denis||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||TELLERRS FOR THE AYES—|
|Lough, Thomas||Shaw, Thos. (Hawick B.)||Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Edward|
|MacAleese, Daniel||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Morton.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Denny, Colonel|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.|
|Baden-Powell, Sir Geo. Smyth||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.)||Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers-|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Doxford, William Theodore|
|Baird, Jno. Geo. Alexander||Chelsea, Viscount||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch.)||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Grld W. (Leeds)||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc.)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Colomb, Sir Jno. Chas. Ready||Finch, George H.|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Flannery, Fortescue|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Flower, Ernest|
|Bethell, Commander||Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lanc S. W.)||Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)|
|Bill, Charles||Curzon, Viscount (Bucks.)||Garfit, William|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. W. St. John||Dalkeith, Earl of||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Bucknill, Thomas T.||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Gordon, Hon. John Edward|
|Carlile, William Walter||Davenport, W. Bromley-||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (S. Geo's.)|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Graham, Herny Robert||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Richardson, J. (Durham)|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Greville, Captain||Macdona, John Cumming||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||M'Arthur, Charles (L'pool.)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord Geo.||Malcolm, Ian Zachary||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm.||Maple, Sir John Blundell||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Hanson, Sir Reginald||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Heath, James||Milner, Sir Frederick George||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Helder, Augustus||Milton, Viscount||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Monckton, Edward Philip||Tomlinson, Wm. Ed. Murray|
|Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord Arth. (Down)||More, Robert Jasper||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hill, Sir Edw. Stock (Bristol)||Morrell, George Herbert||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptfrd.)||Webser, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Grhm (Bute)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U.||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Kemp, George||Nicholson, William Graham||Williams, Josh. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Kenyon, James||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Paulton, James Mellor||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Lecky, Rt. Hn. Wm. Ed. H.||Penn, John||Wodehouse, Edmond R. (Bath)|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Wylie, Alexander|
|Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Priestley Sir W. Overend (Edin.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Lorne, Marquess of||Purvis, Robert||Sir William Walrond and|
|Lowles, John||Rankin, James||Mr. Anstruther.|
Resolution agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. LOUGH
I should like to ask for an explanation of an item on page 127, under the heading "R. Miscellaneous," "For chimney sweeping, drawing instruments," and other things, £11,000. That item last year was only £5,000; this year it is more than doubled. I think this is an item that requires some explanation. Why should chimney sweeping be bracketed together with drawing instruments?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
If hon. Gentlemen insist on it, I will now move to report progress.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member must see that there are many items included under this heading, "Miscellaneous." The increase is due to extra travelling expenses which have had to be provided for in order to ensure better inspection of the works in progress.
§ MR. LOUGH
I think that is a totally inadequate explanation. I asked about "chimney sweeping and drawing instruments," and I am told that the increase is due to travelling expenses. I really think it would be better, as these Questions cannot be answered, that the suggestion of the First Lord of the Treasury should be adopted.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
The hon. Member must name some other sum, because a Division has already been taken on the reduction by £100.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
Apparently, hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to reduce these proceedings to a farce. All we wish to do is to make progress with works which the House generally desires to see carried out. The hon. Member who spoke just now is evidently simply trifling with the House. If it is the desire of the 17 Gentlemen who voted just now to obstruct the work of the Admiralty, I am afraid they must have their way, but I, at any rate, enter my protest.
§ MR. DALZIEL
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is no desire whatever on this side of the House to delay the passing of the Vote—
§ MR. H. V. DUNCOMBE (Cumberland, Egremont)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the CHAIRMAN withheld his assent, and declined now to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. DALZIEL
We are anxious as far as possible to assist the Government in getting this Vote, but there is a feeling that in this matter the rigid: hon. Gen- 363 tleman the Leader of the House has departed from an honourable understanding. ["No, no."] That, at any rate, is the feeling which prevails on these Benches; am not defending it—I say that is the feeling. Of course, if the right hon. Gentleman makes anything like a definite promise we accept it; but the impression on this side is that the right hon. Gentleman moved to suspend the 12 o'clock rule on the understanding that he would be satisfied if he got Vote 1. He has now got more than that. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but I am certain that to-morrow morning, when he reads his speech, he will see that it confirms what I say now. The right hon. Gentleman said his only object was to get Vote 1 to-night.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Unfortunately, I was not in the House when this misunderstanding arose. It is true that I said there should be no endeavour to force on, after 12 o'clock, anything beyond what was necessary for the completion of the work of the financial year. But I am given to understand that there were operations on the part of some hon. Gentlemen opposite in order to throw over a Vote the discussion of which has practically been concluded. ["No, no."] They will correct me if I am wrong, but I do not think that will be seriously contradicted. Well, I do not think the hon. Gentlemen have kept the spirit of the arrangement, but I feel I am bound to keep the letter. I think it would be better that this Vote, which I understand has been quite adequately discussed, should be passed, but it is my opinion that any bargain should be strictly kept by the Government of the day, and by every Member of this House, and, if hon. Gentlemen insist, I, for my part, am prepared to keep to the strict letter of what I said, and the Vote shall not be pressed.
§ MR. DALZIEL
In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has given way on the important point we raised, I think my hon. Friend will probably be inclined not to press his Motion.
§ MR. MORTON
As I have already said, my reason for objecting to this Vote being taken is that I know several hon. Memoirs on this side, who intended to speak on the Vote, left the House under 364 the impression that the Vote would not come on.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.