Debate resumed on Question [13th March]—
That 110,640 men and boys be employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services for the year ending on the 31st March 1900, including 18,505 Royal Marines.
§ *MR ALLAN (Gateshead)
In reviewing the Navy Estimates this year, and also the statement made by-the First Lord of the Admiralty, I will, with the leave of the House, take a short review, in the first place, of how the Estimates are submitted to Members of this House. I have complained repeatedly of the mode of getting up these Estimates, which is very unbusiness-like, so much so that I have great difficulty in following the figures which are put into these statistics as to the names of the ships and the amount of money spent upon them. For instance, I find on page 102 an item for repairs and alterations to ships amounting to £1,463,150. But this statement does 998 not cover all the repairs, for I am brought face to face again with another total for repairs to ships. Here, again, under sub-head B, page 134, we have a sum put down for repairs of £647,330. Now, why is it that these items for repairs are put down in this way? Now, I draw the attention of the House to these figures, for when you add these two amounts together, what are you brought face to face with? Together these two amounts make a gross total of £1,800,000 put down in these Estimates for repairs to Her Majesty's ships. That means that nearly one-fifteenth of the total Navy Vote appears in these Estimates as repairs, and I want to know where all that money has gone? There is nothing mentioned here to show how it has been spent, and I want to know what ships have been repaired, and what has been the cost of the repairs of every ship. I vote the money for the Navy most willingly, but I do want to know where this money has gone to for repairs, and why you have put it down like this and lumped all these amounts together? The Admiralty is asking us to vote the sum of nearly £2,000,000 for repairs. I wish to direct the right honourable Gentleman's attention to the confused manner in which these Estimates are submitted to us in this House; for every vessel the repairs ought to be put down opposite the name of that particular ship, the same as any other great mercantile company would do, so that we should know where we are with regard to the cost of the repairs of Her Majesty's ships. I now come to another point of 999 greater importance in point of fact than even the money. The First Lord of the Admiralty, in his statement, gives us what he purposes doing, and the kind of vessels he proposes to build. We have here a very elaborate and a very nicely-worded account and particulars of the vessels which are to be built, and the draught, displacement, and indicated horse-power are given. They are to have nearly 30,000 indicated horse-power, and are to go at 23 knots. I wonder how long these vessels can steam at that speed, and what they would be able to do in time of war, if taken out to sea. I am afraid that these ships which are put down on this paper are peace vessels and not war vessels. Here you have 30,000 indicated horse-power and you are content to go 23 knots; but judging from the amount of coal which they will attempt to carry they can only have about three days' steaming. Why, such ships are no good. What is the use of building a vessel to go 23 knots with 30,000 indicated horse-power when she cannot go to sea for a longer period than three days? I find also that all these vessels are to be fitted with Belleville boilers. I have stood up in this House now for a number of years, and I have spoken against the sudden and wholesale adoption of these water-tube boilers in the Navy. I am not prejudiced in this matter; I have been too long at engineering to be prejudiced against any improvements in engineering, for I have done a little bit myself at improvements in this respect, and I speak as one who desires to see the best article obtained for our money. But what is the picture presented to us to-day? It is this—you have got these boilers in one of your cruisers, and in consequence of an explosion these poor men have been lying there parboiled. In the Navy we have the best of ships, the best of guns, and the best of men, but down in the engine-room the boilers are all wrong, and you are now finding it out, and my words are unfortunately coming true to-day. What have been the results of your trial trips lately? One of your ships has been six months under trial, and has not yet joined the Fleet; and I ask, is there a shipowner in this House who would have a boat that could not run its trial trip under six months? We have voted the money for the "Niobe," and I am afraid she will turn out to be 1000 another "Terrible." Some of your ships cannot steam from Gibraltar to this country without having a couple of explosions and returning home a cripple. Where is your "Terrible"? It is no use the Admiralty attempting to minimise that disaster, for the public will not have it. We have been gulled too long in these matters, and the Admiralty love darkness rather than light in these things. They are afraid of criticism, and they hush everything up. You come down here to this House with fine, smooth, honeyed statements and with nice stories about the Navy, and we have voted millions for the Fleet, and yet there are numbers of our vessels like the "Terrible" ruined by boiler explosions and fit only for scrap iron. (Laughter.) I see from that laugh that the right honourable Gentleman's responsibilities lie very lightly upon him. I cannot laugh under such circumstances, and I cannot smile while the British sailors are lying in the stokehole parboiled. I am rather inclined to shed tears than to smile at statements presented to us from the great "Department of defects." Of course, they tell us that everything will be put all right after the next trial, and that is how the nation is gulled. Now, I want to know what has been the cost of all this when you come down here for £2,370,000 more money? What has been the cost of these trips and these repairs, and why don't you show it? The cost of the repairs to that vessel, the "Terrible," ought to be in that Estimate, but you are afraid to put it there. What a satire it is upon the whole position to read in connection with the Institute of Civil Engineers statements the night before the accident lauding these boilers up to the skies, and the next morning wo have a great explosion. I come down and stand on practical ground, and I say that if you want to steam 22 knots your ships are not right, and none of your vessels have done it yet. I speak now of vessels which are well known to the right honourable Gentleman, in which the Admiralty officials have seen fit to adopt a boiler which, as I have often said before, is not a boiler at all, but is one of those combinations of pipes which are commonly known in the North as heaters of conservatories. (Laughter.) I want to impress upon this House the serious- 1001 ness of this question. It is no laughing matter, for it is a national question. The Navy is our first line of defence, and our first line should be the best line, and on these grounds I appeal to this House to listen to the facts. Why is it that your officials at the Admiralty permit these vessels to carry 280 and 300 pounds of steam in these boilers, and do not use it on the engines, while we in our ordinary daily work can work up to 160 and 180 pounds and put it on the engine. I will enlighten the right honourable Gentleman on this question, for he is not an engineer. The reason of it is this—you are forced to carry 260, 280, and 300 pounds of steam, because when you attempt to do with less the whole of the water in the boilers will come right away into the engine, and what is the result, supposing anything happens with the tubes? They say that in this accident it was only one of the tubes, but we shall see. We will take it at one tube, and what has happened? The whole of the fires are put out, the men are surrounded with flames, and there is an enormous pressure behind in the boiler. The engineering is false, and there is no engineer would pass such a thing. You cannot help yourself by the adoption of such generators. I will just show what can be done, and what really ought to have been done. There was a cruiser built at Elswick for Japan, and it was called the "Asama," and I wish to direct the right honourable Gentleman's attention to this boat. She was put on her trial trip, and she ran with 13,000 indicated horse-power 19 knots an hour, and she did this with ordinary boilers and 150 pounds pressure as against your 280 and 300 pounds. What is more, this vessel at her highest speed of 22 knots can steam for six days. Now, take the "Terrible." What has she done? By your own statement, the "Terrible" at 19,000 indicated horse-power, cannot go more than 20 knots. Then, again, the consumption of coal on the "Terrible" is about 400 tons a day, and her limit of steaming about four days, as against 260 tons of coal by the "Asama," which can steam six days. Now I want to impress upon the right honourable Gentleman these facts. Why cannot you build ships like that? In adopting these Belleville boilers the Admiralty went against their own Boiler 1002 Committee's recommendations, and they heedlessly, foolishly, and hurriedly did so, without giving them a fair trial, and the consequence is that the whole Fleet has got into this mess. I will ask the right honourable Gentleman to-day a very pertinent question. You are now fitting such boilers as these in the new yacht which is being built for Her Majesty. Supposing such an explosion had taken place with Her Majesty on board, what would the country have said? And what is there to prevent such an explosion taking place when she has once been put to sea, because the boilers in Her Majesty's yacht have never been fairly tested. I have challenged the Admiralty to send one of the cruisers fitted with these boilers across the Atlantic, and I have offered to go out with it myself to see what it was like, and I would go at full speed if they like, but they have never done that. I am very sorry that the Fleet for which I have voted so much money should be in this crippled condition, for I do not hesitate to say that our ships are practically ruined by these boilers. I will not weary the House by the letters which I have received from these poor men down in the engine-rooms of the vessels fitted with these boilers. Their nerves are in a state of tension, for they are afraid at every moment that the boilers are going to burst and blow them to bits. Just look at the future, supposing we had a war. Think of these poor men down in the engine-room, with their minds in such a state of anxiety, afraid every moment that something is going to happen to the boilers. The men on the "Terrible" were panic-stricken, and if that accident had occurred in time of war she could have been captured by a gunboat. Is that the condition which the British Navy should be in? I have another name for it, and I say that it is a squandering of the public money heedlessly and recklessly, and not any amount of talk and smoothing over on the Front Bench in trying to whitewash it can take away the facts. I stand on facts, and I am an advocate always of every improvement in engineering, and this is a retrograde action on the part of the Admiralty, for water-tube boilers wore played out before some of the officials of the Admiralty were born. They were tried and found wanting 50 1003 years ago, and you now inform the House that you have paid £146,000 for royalties on them. I will show you what that means. Fancy Great Britain, the country of engineers, having to pay £146,000 to a French company! For that sum of money you could have got 5,000 tons of ordinary boilers, such as those with which the "Asama" is fitted, and such as those in use on the White Star, the Cunard, and other boats, which do the work regularly and well. We shall be told that this is a patent; but where is that patent, and who proved to the Admiralty that the so-called patent was a valid one?
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
Order, order I am very reluctant to interrupt the honourable Gentleman, but it appears to me that he is discussing a question which is very far from the subject under consideration.
§ *MR. ALLAN
Very well, Sir, I withdraw that statement, and will confine myself to utter condemnation of the Admiralty. I think that the boilers that have been put into these vessels will render these beautiful ships for which we are voting the money nothing less than useless, helpless tubs. Therefore, I bring my remarks to a close by urging the right honourable Gentleman to take this matter in hand. It is time that this House appointed a Committee to inquire into the whole Naval administration of the country. The money, as I have shown, has been squandered by hundreds of thousands—nay, by millions, and we have no statement of how it has been spent; we know nothing. We are kept in the dark, and then those who sit upon that Bench come down here and act as barristers on behalf of a department whose actions have been tried and found wanting. I speak upon this matter with sorrow. Many of our ships are good ships, and I regret that I have been obliged to make use of the words that I have. And I say, without fear of contradiction from any quarters, that our beautiful Fleet is absolutely ruined by the boilers that have been put into her by the honourable Gentlemen sitting opposite.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
Upon a point of order, Sir, I desire to know if a general discussion can take place upon this Vote, or whether it 1004 must be confined to matters directly affecting this Vote?
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
This is Vote A—a Vote for men—and any discussion can be allowed which is reasonably connected with that Vote.
*Sir U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)
We were informed by the Leader of the Opposition that the usual discussion upon Vote A would be allowed, as in previous years.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
The condition in which the Committee is placed is one of great difficulty. But I must do the best I can, and, under the circumstances, I think there should be a general discussion upon this Vote.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I will not anticipate the answer that the Admiralty will have to make to my honourable Friend, nor do I propose to follow him into the details as to the "Belleville" boilers which he has addressed to the Committee; but I will just remind the House, without going into the details, that, beyond the unfortunate accident that took place on board the "Terrible"—which I am sure no one deplores more than the honourable Gentleman himself—my honourable Friend has not added one single iota to the numerous arguments which he has addressed to the House of Commons for five successive Sessions, and which have been rejected by, five successive meetings of the Committee.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I deeply regret the continued absence of the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty from this Debate, and his absence is all the more to be regretted because, in my opinion, several questions have arisen upon which it would have been most satisfactory to have had additional explanations from the right honourable Gentleman at first hand. But I have no doubt that the honourable Gentleman who takes the place of the right honourable Gentleman upon this occasion comes fully prepared to give all the explanations there are necessary. I do not know that it is of much advantage to say 1005 anything more at this stage about the unusual and eccentric course which has been taken by the Admiralty upon this occasion—I mean, of course, of withholding all information about the Navy Estimates, and withholding the Estimates themselves and the explanatory statement until after the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty in this House. I could not understand myself what was the possible reason for this procedure. But the First Lord of the Treasury told us some 10 days ago that it was dictated by profound reasons of public policy, and I waited to hear from the First Lord of the Admiralty's speech what those reasons were. I confess, if I am right in putting my finger, as I believe I did, upon the reasons to which the First Lord of the Treasury alluded, that those reasons are perfectly satisfactory, and are sufficiently important to my mind to remove all cause of complaint as to the course adopted by the Admiralty this year. What was the reason that the First Lord of the Admiralty gave for the course pursued of withholding the Estimates? Was it not this: that he did not wish these enormous Estimates to go forth to the world unaccompanied by the explanation that he was going to make? In that explanation he said they were not Estimates of aggression—that was his phrase—but that they were in the nature of additional Estimates. Now I take it that the meaning of the First Lord, and what he wanted to declare to the country and to the world, was, that if France or Russia, or either of them, reduced its shipbuilding programme, we on our side would do the same. That is the meaning which I put upon the statement of the right honourable Gentleman, and I find that it is satisfactory, and that all cause of complaint with respect to the course taken this year in connection with the withholding of the Navy Estimates is removed by that statement. But the matter has been entirely altered by the speech of the honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty. I had not the good fortune to hear that speech, and therefore I am dependent upon a report in "The Times" as to what he said. Replying to the honourable and gallant Member for Eastbourne, who had protested against the line of policy which had been taken by the Admi- 1006 ralty, the Secretary to the Admiralty used these words. What the First Lord had said was this: "that, if Europe did not agree,"—that is with reference to the proposed conference on the subject of disarmament—"the programme must stand." The honourable and gallant Gentleman inferred from that that the converse of the proposition followed. But the First Lord did not mean for one moment that such a converse should be drawn from his statement. That leaves the meaning of the Government in such obscurity that I must, in justice to the importance of the Question, recall to the House what the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty really did say. He passes by the case of France with the remark that there is no increase in shipbuilding there; but he says in the case of Russia it is different; and, having called attention to the increase in the amount spent on shipbuilding by Russia, he comes to the declaration which is the real reason for withholding these Estimates from the House. He says—We have been compelled to increase our expenditure, as other nations have increased theirs, not taking a lead, nor pressing on more than they. As they have increased, we have increased. I have now to state on behalf of Her Majesty's Government that, similarly, if the other great Naval Powers should be prepared to diminish their programme of ship building, we should, on our side, be prepared to meet such procedure by modifying ours.Now, Mr. O'Connor, I cannot reconcile that statement with the statement made subsequently by the honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty, because not only did the First Lord of the Admiralty mean the converse to be inferred, as the Secretary to the Admiralty puts it, but he declared it himself—Similarly, if the other great Naval Powers should be prepared to diminish their programmes of shipbuilding, we should, on our side, be prepared to meet such procedure by modifying ours.Now, I think we ought to have this made perfectly clear by some definite statement from the Secretary to the Admiralty to-night. I have no doubt that the honourable Gentleman has consulted his Chief upon the subject, and what we want to get now is a definite statement of what it was that the First Lord of the Admiralty 1007 wished to go forth to the world, as qualifying these Estimates, and qualifying them in such a material manner that he would not risk the danger that would otherwise be incurred if these naked Estimates went forth without his explanation. May I point out this to the House: the Secretary to the Admiralty says that the converse was not meant to be inferred. If the honourable Gentleman is right, then what becomes of the reasons of public policy in deference to which the Estimates were withheld from the knowledge of this House until the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord has made his speech? It seems to me that the House and the country are entitled to know exactly what is the reason for the course taken in withholding the Naval Estimates from this House. It appears to me that the message whittled down by the Secretary to the Admiralty as it has been, is a message which is not worth sending out to any country as to the policy of the Government, and much less sending to the Conference which has been summoned on the Question, of disarmament. Now, passing from that, what I want to point out is, that if this should be taken as true—and the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty, as I interpret it, is not the true reason—I am unable to find any other, because, after all, the Estimates when disclosed revealed very little that we did not know before. They revealed nothing, or next to nothing, which any newspaper gifted with the power of intelligently anticipating events might not have discovered for itself. I shall be quite willing to accept from the "Times," or any other newspaper concerned, that, as an explanation of previous knowledge, they had guessed the result, that there must be something like £3,000,000 in addition to expenses in the year. What is that increase due to? It is due mainly to what is called the Supplemental Programme of 1898. The burden of liability falling upon next year's Estimates in respect to that Supplemental Programme is £2,000,000. The burden of liability in respect of the closing year was 10 or 11 thousand pounds. The whole burden is discussed in the new Estimates, and the effect of that is that before they leave the House at all in the 1008 next year's Estimates, the entire burden of liability, which amounts now to half a million, and the new expenditure of two millions, is given away. That is no secret to anybody. With regard to the Supplemental Programme, I have to remind the House that there, again, a remarkably eccentric and unusual course was taken by the First Lord of the Admiralty, and I do not think that the Question should pass without something more being said about it. The First Lord of the Admiralty last week, when he made a statement, spoke of the Supplemental Programme of last year as having been sanctioned by the House. I deny that it has been sanctioned by the House: it is up for sanction, now. I must also remind the Committee as to what took place last year; then, as now, we were mystified by the course which the right honourable Gentleman announced beforehand he was going to take. We all expected that this Supplemental Programme would be submitted in the form of an Estimate, but, in the same same way as this year, no Estimate was forthcoming, or laid before the House. On that occasion a statement was made, and my right honourable Friend the Member for Monmouth with myself opposed the Admiralty upon these two points. And on these two points I desire to draw the attention of the House for a few moments to this fact. There were two specific questions addressed to the First Lord of the Admiralty last year. Those questions were not answered by him; and, after the Debate was over, I repeated those two questions in a letter to the "Times." The questions asked were these: first, "whether the Admiralty intended to put the new programme in execution before submitting a Supplementary Estimate?" And, second, "whether they could cite any precedent for that course of action?" The first question is answered now. They have assumed authority, because they have given orders for the whole of the items practically of the Supplemental Programme of 1898. The question which the Admiralty refused to answer directly they have answered indirectly by what they have done. They assume, from the little discussion which has taken place in this House, that there is no Vote before the House on which the issue can be raised 1009 that they had authority to do what they had done; that is the effect of the mere statement dropped by the First Lord to the Committee generally. The other question, the second question, is not answered. That question is, what precedent have you for executing a programme of this magnitude, or any magnitude, without getting direct authority from the House of Commons? And I put that question to the Secretary to the Admiralty now, and I shall expect him to say whether there are any precedents for the course which the Admiralty has adopted; and, in such a case, to tell us what the precedent is. I hope the honourable Gentleman has some explanation to give us of what I consider is the most unconstitutional method which the Admiralty have adopted. There is one thing to which I once more wish to call the attention of the House, and that is, that the aggregate expenditure now submitted to us for our sanction is perfectly appalling. It is only six years ago since this question was under discussion on the first set of Navy Estimates, for which my right honourable Friend the Member for Clitheroe and myself were responsible. The amount we asked the country to spend upon the Navy was a little over 14 millions. That is just about the amount that was asked for in the last year of our management, and that included the expenditure under Vote 10. The amount required has increased each year until this year it is £26,000,000 and a-half upon the ordinary expenditure in the Estimates, to which you must add one million and a-half, taken on the Supplementary Estimates, and the total of that is more than £28,000,000 sterling, or nearly double that amount which both sides of this House agreed to in their discussions six years ago. Now, that is not the thing upon which I base my objection, but upon other matters. Let me turn to another point of comparison. Six years ago the numbers asked for were 76,000; the numbers asked for this year are 110,000, an increase of nearly 34,000. That is a very great increase, but this great increase does not appear to me to show its full proportions. The expenditure, as I have shown, is doubled, but the number of men is not doubled, although they have increased. In his speech the 1010 other night, looking over all the dockyards of the world, he informed us that there were 685,000 tons of shipbuilding going on in the yards of the six most powerful nations, but I wish that the honourable Gentleman had gone on to tell us what was the tonnage of our own yards and the yards of the contractors. I think the figures would have surprised his House, even in the face of these enormous Estimates. I find, excluding all unwarlike vessels, but including small men-of-war, the figures are these. The tonnage of ships building in the dockyards, as revealed by the Estimates for next year, is 200,000, and in the private yards it is 320,000, which gives a total of 520,000 of new warlike shipbuilding in this country alone, against 1,685,000 tons in all the rest of the world practically put together. I do not state that in any way as a matter of complaint, I simply state it as a fact to illustrate the enormous efforts which we are being ailed upon to make for the strengthening of the Navy of this country. Now, what is the question practically before the House? The main question which the House has to decide is whether it approves of the new programme of construction now laid before us. Now, what is the new programme which we are now being asked to sanction? It really amounts to six battleships, six first-class cruisers, three smaller, 12 torpedo-boat destroyers, and two sloops. That is the existing programme, and it is certainly a matter for us to consider whether we should sanction it or not. Now I am going to consider the question from the same point of view as my honourable Friend the Member for Clitheroe, and I take it that the present Admiralty stands by the obligations of the late Admiralty. Hitherto the principle which has governed the Admiralty has been that the Navy of this country ought to be equal to the combined navies of any two foreign Powers. I never contended that it should not be so; in my opinion it should. I think that should be the minimum strength, but hitherto the Admiralty has been extremely reticent as to naming the two Powers concerned. But that reticence has been entirely given up by the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty. Now, I am not in the least complaining; but for years past he has been much 1011 more frank than any of his predecessors thought it prudent to be. Instead of vaguely referring to "any two Powers," he has dotted his "i's" and stroked his "t's," and boldly asserted on the floor of this House that the two Powers in question are France and Russia. This year we have apparently to deal with Russia, but France and Russia are both named as Powers which we shall have to take into consideration in making our Fleet equal to the combined strength of the fleets of any two other countries. As regards France, the First Lord made reference to the Fashoda incident of last Session in its bearings upon the state of our Navy. It was, in fact, entirely in reference to its bearing on the Navy that the First Lord mentioned the incident, and it is of that somewhat limited reference that I ask leave to speak. Sir, I disagree most profoundly with the inference which the First Lord drew from what took place last year in connection with the Fashoda incident. I do not agree with him that the country was unanimous in supporting the line taken by the Government. The unanimity was apparent only. It was a newspaper unanimity for the most part, and I, who have been all over the country since, know well that vast sections of public opinion were not in agreement with the line taken by the Government on that occasion. In my belief, and in the belief of many more, the Government of this country violently, unnecessarily, and harshly refused to France an opportunity of stating her case.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
On a point of order, Sir, shall we be allowed to follow the right honourable Gentleman in the discussion he is now raising?
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
I accepted the statement of the honourable Gentleman that he would confine himself to the ground already traversed by a Minister of the Crown. I think he is now going beyond it.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I will try to keep myself strictly within that reference. I will content myself with contradicting the statement of the First Lord. But contradicting that, and proceeding also to contradict the inference which hedrew respecting the Navy, I go on to say that, in my opinion, the action taken by 1012 the Government in reference to the Fashoda incident was, and I believe still is, likely to lead to a still further increase in the Navy. The right honourable Gentleman said, what all people in this country knew, and what the people in France knew—namely, that it was in reliance on our naval strength that we took the line we did; and it was because the French knew of our naval superiority that they submitted to a wrong which they would otherwise not have tolerated.
§ An HONOURABLE MEMBER: No!
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I am repeating what they said; I am giving the French view. The use which we made of our naval supremacy on that occasion is one which may have unfortunate results in leading the French nation to listen, as I sincerely hope they will not, to advisers who certainly have told them that they had to submit to England because our Navy was overpoweringly strong, and that the only way to protect themselves was by strengthening their fleet. I am glad that my anticipations have not yet been realised. I hope they will not be realised, because what would be the consequence? The consequence would be that for every ship which France puts down we should be compelled, by the principle which both parties in the State have adopted, to put down a further number of ships. That is all I desire to say about the incident at Fashoda, which, in its bearings on naval policy, appears to me to suggest quite different possibilities from those suggested by the First Lord of the Admiralty. Now, Sir, passing from that, I have already indicated what, in my belief, is the main feature of these new Estimates—namely, this large increase, and the fact that that large increase is based, not upon anything that has been done, or is going to be done, by France —we know nothing about that—but upon what, in the opinion of the First Lord of the Admiralty, is going to be done by Russia. For the first time in the naval history of this country, so far as I know, have we had proposals directed openly, frankly, and expressly against a single Power—and that Power Russia. Where should we be if France also had an increased Estimate? But in France, we are told, as yet, the new construction is inconsiderable, and, there- 1013 fore, we are left to deal with Russia. And now the question for the House is whether, having regard to the serious statement made by the First Lord of the Admiralty, we are to sanction these new proposals for armaments. Well, for my part, it would take a great deal to induce mo to refuse my consent to the application made by the responsible naval authorities of the day, but the reasons which were frankly given by the First Lord of the Admiralty lead me to say that there are some conditions which we might reasonably impose upon the assent which I regard as inevitable. The First Lord, as I said, has told us about Russia. He has gone beyond anything that any of his predecessors have ever said in naming Russia as the one Power against which this new increase of the Navy is to be directed. Having gone so far, the right honourable Gentleman is bound to go farther. Any mischief that may be done from the mention of any particular Power cannot now be undone. Therefore we need have no hesitation in pressing now for information which in former years most probably would not have transpired. I would ask the Secretary to the Admiralty to kindly take note of two conditions which I shall have to make in assenting, as I shall undoubtedly do, to the new proposals before the Committee. I want him to promise, which I suppose he cannot do until he has consulted his chief, as a condition to our assenting to this vast increase in the naval programme, to take the House fully into his confidence with regard to Russia, and give us all the information the naval authorities have in their possession about Russia, and the evidence upon which they base their conclusions. The First Lord may be imperfectly informed. He believes himself that he did not understand one item in the Russian programme put down to wages, and there may be other points on which the Admiralty may be only too glad to be better informed than they are. At all events, I do think that the Committee, which is now being asked to vote this enormous increase as an answer to the naval policy of Russia, and of Russia alone, is entitled to say, "Give us all the information you have about Russia." I feel certain that that reasonable request will not be refused by the right honourable Gentleman. Sir, the second condition which I should 1014 like to mention is one which I make without much encouragement, for I am bound to say it has not once been laid before the Committee. We never hear in Naval Debates, much less in Army Debates, any question about the possibility of reducing expenditure. I do not mean in curtailing the programme, or in stopping the building of battleships, but in overhauling an ancient Service, which has not been overhauled for a great many years, to see whether we are not spending more than is absolutely necessary. I, for my part, while determined to keep up the Navy to a point that may, in the judgment of the Admiralty of the day, be necessary—because I should always go as far as that—am equally determined, as far us I can, that every penny that this House spends upon the Navy shall go to increase the fighting strength of the Navy. If there are any items in the Votes which can be dispensed with as ones which do not help your fighting strength, I should like to have those Votes explained. There are ratings, for example, which I have naval authority for saying do not conduce to the fighting efficiency of the Fleet, and there may be many more than those which have been mentioned to me. All these items should be overhauled. I think there is a possibility that we are paying too much for armaments. I am, however, aware that we shall be able to discuss that question at a later period. Our main object now is to induce the Admiralty and the Committee to recognise the fact that we are dealing with a very old lighting Service which has not been reformed for many years. Sir, I thank the House for having listened to me so long. I will say once more that I have no hesitation in supporting the new programme which the Admiralty 1ms introduced, but I do entreat them to keep in mind two things—namely, to first give us all the relevant information they can with regard to the policy of Russia, and, in the second place, to encourage in every possible way the exercise of economy.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL
With reference to the concluding suggestion of the honourable Gentleman who has just sat down, I would venture to point out that since he and I have had the honour of sitting in this House a Royal Commission and 1015 a Select Committee have both inquired into the question, and it is astounding how few were the recommendations made bending towards economy in the Navy. I sincerely hope that the new Supplementary Estimates may be considered purely as abnormal expenditure not likely to occur again. For my part., I am one of those who believe that our strength, in comparison with other Powers, is ample, and I believe it was last year. There has since been a considerable increase made by one Power, which no doubt ought to be taken into consideration. As far as I understand, all parties last year, excluding my right honourable Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir Charles Dilke), but including my noble Friend the Member for York (Lord Charles Beresford), were of opinion that our strength in reference to other countries was ample. Certainly, as far as I am concerned, taking as close and accurate a survey as I can of the ships that exist, and of those that are laid down by other countries, I believe that our comparative strength is sufficient. Now, I do not agree with my honourable Friend opposite (Mr. E. Robertson) that the personnel of the Navy is not equal to the ships we have completed or have in preparation.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL
I think it is quite right that there should not be. I am not at all of opinion that the country should be expected to support on active service so largo a number of officers and men as to man the whole of the ships which we shall have in the hands of the dockyards for any given time. It would be asking the country to undertake an expenditure we ought not to require, because that involves a very important question raised by the honourable Member for Devonport a day or two ago, on which I have often spoken before, but with which I do not propose to trouble the House on the present occasion; and that is the question of the Reserves. My humble opinion is that the question of the Reserves has not been properly dealt with by the Admiralty. I have said so for many years, and I shall not gain anything by repeating what I have said on other occasions. The honourable 1016 Member for Gateshead (Mr. Allan) raised again the very technical and difficult question of the Belleville boilers. I cannot enter into that question to discuss it. All I would remind the Admiralty of is what they have been told before, that this question is still in suspense. I do not imagine the Committee, any more than myself, are able to form a definite opinion on this question.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL
Never mind the "Terrible." It is absurd to contend that the whole system ought to be condemned because a single boiler has been blown up. I submit to the Committee and my honourable Friend opposite that the question of the Belleville boilers, as against other boilers, so far as the Committee of the House of Commons is concerned, is, and must remain, in suspense. We inexpert persons have not got the material upon which we can form a definite opinion, nor shall we ever have material on which to form such a definite opinion until such a lapse of time has occurred that we can see whether the ships fitted with Belleville boilers are able to perform the duties they are called upon to perform. Most of us, I suppose, are obliged to be guided largely by the official opinion of the Admiralty, who have the moans of obtaining the best advice. It has been pointed out over and over again to the Committee that not only the expert opinion of the Admiralty, but of the engineers also, has all along-all been in favour of this particular class of boiler. What, however, all most devoutly hope is, as my honourable Friend says, that this splendid Fleet of ours shall not be jeopardised by the introduction of these boilers. I have great faith in the adviser to the Admiralty, and in the skilled engineering opinions which were found in favour of it; and, acting upon that judgment, with no opinion of my own, I have hitherto, and shall again support the Admiralty in their views upon this question. Sir, my honourable Friend who addressed the House immediately before me took some exception to the manner in which the Supplementary programme was introduced last year. I do not think he takes exception to the nature of the programme, but rather to the method in which it was presented; but I am bold enough to 1017 say that I do not recollect any very severe criticisms as to the way in which it was introduced, either from my honourable Friend or from his Leader.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL
I looked it up, and I recollect the general agreement upon the subject. I do not propose to follow my honourable Friend opposite over the very dangerous and debatable ground on which he entered, and which seemed likely to disturb the peaceful calm in which the Naval Estimates are usually discussed. I rose more especially to draw the attention of the Committee to the subject on which my honourable Friend the Member for Gateshead has spoken so ably. That question is still in suspense. And I also think with regard to the question of the personnel, that it ought not to be raised to a larger number than would at any given time be necessary to meet the need of the ships.
§ *MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
I am unable to agree with my honourable Friend the Member for Dundee in his contention that there was no unanimity of opinion among the people of the country in respect to the Fashoda incident. The overwhelming expression of unanimity on that occasion was really the governing factor of the situation. No Government dared disregard it. My honourable Friend thinks, too, that France was badly treated in not being allowed to state her case. There was no case to state. I find myself also in disagreement with my right honourable Friend the Member for Clitheroe with regard to the criticisms he made the other evening in replying to the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty. He advocated that the time had arrived when the brake should be applied, and that we should pursue a policy of watching and waiting. He gave two sets of reasons for that course, neither of which agreed with the other. The first reason ha gave was that we should get great advantages if we followed this watching and waiting policy, because we should be able to profit by any scientific development which might improve our methods with regard to construction or 1018 armaments. He also claimed that owing to our rapidity of construction we were in a position to make up the leeway very rapidly when we decided to resume operations. Well, Mr. O'Connor, I think this watching and waiting policy has been pursued before, and the right honourable Gentleman has had some experience of it. I remember in 1893 a great conflict in this House about the waiting and watching policy in connection with the construction of the "Majestic" and the "Magnificent," and that policy was strenuously opposed and vigorously denounced by the then Opposition. I hope the Government, at all events until something tangible happens in connection with the Peace Conference, will pay no heed whatever to the watching and waiting policy. Well, Sir, the second point of the right honourable Gentleman was, that he objected to the two new battleships being built, because he thought we were entitled to more exact information as to the ground that necessitated these ships being built. He did not, however, follow the courageous course of the honourable Member for Northampton. When the honourable Member for Northampton, for whose methods I have great admiration, takes exception to a given course, he acts up to his conviction and takes a Vote on the question; for instance, he moves the reduction of the number of men. Well, now, the right honourable Gentleman has objected to the number of ships—
*SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
What I stated was that the House was entitled to more information. That is not finally expressing an objection.
§ *MR. KEARLEY
The words of the right honourable Gentleman were—He did not think that the First Lord had given the House sufficient arguments that would justify the building of two more battleships.Well, the most effective way of protesting against the programme would be to vote against it. An opportunity was afforded the right honourable Gentleman to make his protest effective, but when the occasion arose he did not take advantage of it. I think the criticism of the right honourable Gentleman was of a captious character. But, passing from that aspect of the question, I am glad 1019 to see that the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty in his statement has recognised the good and economic way in which the work had been turned out of the Government dockyards. He might have paid an additional tribute to the work—that it was not only satisfactory and economical, but that it was expeditiously carried out. There has been a record made at Devonport which has never been equalled in any other dockyard. The other day the "Implacable" was launched, under eight months from the day on which it was laid down. That is a very creditable performance, and I would suggest that some recognition should be given to the employees in the dockyards in addition to the tributes of admiration which had been paid. I would remind the honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty that we are still continuing to pay very low wages in this dockyard, and, seeing the high character of the work carried out, I hope he will be able to tell us to-night what steps the Admiralty intend to take in regard to the representations made last year to him by the representatives of the; dockyards who waited upon him. The point raised by the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean in regard to additional building-slips at Devonport is important. Owing to the increase of slip accommodation that yard has been able to participate in the building of battleships which has been going on; but owing to the insufficiency of the slip accommodation a new ship, the "Bulwark," has been started, not on a slip, but on a temporary staging. A great amount of building material had been put into her which must be pulled down when the ship is finally laid down. I understand the Government now intend to build another slip, and do away with the existing covered sheds Nos. 1 and 2. I would suggest that when they are making the new slip it should be made long enough on which to build first-class cruisers. We have never yet had an opportunity in Devonport Dockyard of building a first-class cruiser, and I hope the Government will give us the opportunity of showing what we can do with large cruisers, as we have done in building large battleships. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity of inspecting the Keyham extension works. Last year, 1020 when I went over the works, I found them in a somewhat backward state, but I was glad to see the other week the enormous amount of work which had been accomplished during the past 12 months. Everything now is plain sailing, and with the large increase of labour contemplated, there should be no room for adverse criticism on the conduct of that great undertaking. I wish to make two references to matters which I think of some importance, and which were noticed in the statement of the First Lord. The first is in regard to the increase of pay to the Royal Marines. That increase has at last been conceded. It is a very tardy concession. I started the agitation in 1893; since which we have fought for it every year, and I am much gratified that at length we have wrung this concession from the Admiralty. I am sure that it will be much appreciated by the Royal Marines; but there is still room for more consideration to be shown to the claims of these men. I will give an illustration. A Marine, prior to embarkation, is compelled to qualify as a "trained" man, for which he draws extra pay. When embarked he has to take his place with the other members of the crew for gunnery work, but is deprived altogether of the chance of qualifying for a seaman's gunner rating. As the seamen are entitled to qualify for gunners' rating, for which, when they are qualified, they got extra pay, this is a hardship to the Royal Marines, and I hope it will receive some attention. The other matter in the First Lord's statement to which I wish to refer, is the scarcity of shipwrights' ratings. The Admiralty have devised a plan, under which they propose to train naval shipwrights in their own yards, and they offer, as an inducement, that on the completion of their training they will be drafted to sea-going ships, and after serving afloat for a certain number of years they will be eligible to be taken on the establishment of the dockyard. I do not think myself the plan will succeed. I do not like to say I hope it won't succeed, for that perhaps might be misconstrued. It would be far better, I think, in my judgment, if the Admiralty were to face the difficulty boldly. It has arisen solely and wholly because the pay and the status of the naval shipwrights are not good enough. My honourable and gallant Friend says that the 1021 difficulty has arisen from trade unionism, but I do not think trade unionism has anything to do with it. If the naval shipwrights' claim was an unjust one no one would argue in its favour. But these men who go into the Navy as shipwrights are picked out from among the best men in the yards, and have to pass a strict examination, and it seems altogether wrong that there should not be more fitting recognition accorded to them while they are in the Navy. I prophesy that this scheme of the Admiralty will not succeed. Two years ago warrant rank was offered to 50 engine room artificers, but there appears to be some injustice in the qualifying conditions imposed on the men who take warrant rank. It is laid down that no man can take warrant rank unless he is 35 years of age and has had 10 years' continuous service. It is obvious that if a man enters at 21 years of age, and is not permitted to gain warrant rank until he is 35 years of age, that gives him 14 years' continuous service. I suggest that that is an oversight, and that it would satisfy all the requirements of the Service if a man has 10 years' qualified time, irrespective of his age. He should then be eligible for warrant rank. Last year the First Lord said that he would give the matter of the chief petty officers' pensions his serious consideration, and it will be some satisfaction if we are able to learn to-night what the decision of the Admiralty is in regard to this important question. Then there is the question of the stokers which was referred to the other night. These men are the hardest worked and worst paid in the whole Navy; and, as was pointed out by the honourable Member for Gateshead, they are exposed to great danger. Not only is their pay bad, but the privileges accorded to others are denied to them altogether. For example, they are denied the re-engagement money given to the seamen branch. Why should the petty officers, too, not be entitled to progressive pay the same as in the case of other ratings? Another important body of naval mechanics I would mention which are entitled to an increase of pay, viz., the plumbers and plumbers' mates. Their pay to-day stands at the same rate as it did 30 years ago, as during the entire period they have received no recognition 1022 whatsoever. That practically covers all I desire to say just now. We shall have plenty of opportunity of discussing details when the separate Votes come on. I hope the honourable Member the Secretary to the Admiralty will reply to the questions which have been put this afternoon and the other night. We are entitled to some reply, especially as to what are the possibilities of the Colonies falling in with the views of the First Lord in regard to obtaining men there for the Reserve.
*ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
I am glad to follow the honourable Member for Devonport, and to thank him for the support which he has given us on some points in which he and I feel very strongly. We are grateful to the Admiralty for the concession that has been made in regard to the rations of the Royal Marines when employed on duty on shore. But I do not think that either of us is satisfied with that concession. There are other grievances to be dealt with, and I reserve myself on these points till the reply of the Secretary of the Admiralty is made. I also thank the honourable Member, on behalf of my brother officers, for the slight castigation he gave to the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe. It was delightful to witness the disapproval of the honourable Member for Devonport at the cold water thrown on the programme of the Admiralty by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe. It was evident that he thought the right honourable Gentleman should have spoken in a different sense; but I suppose he felt, in common with me, that the right honourable Gentleman conceived it to be his duty to leave his supporters in the country to think that he and his friends were advocating economic principles, though they did not see any way of carrying them out. The honourable Member for Dundee, from the position he holds in this House, and the position he held in the last Government, will pardon me for challenging some of his observations. He finds fault—though he did not propose for a moment to carry his opinion to a Vote—with the programme of the Admiralty on the ground of extravagance. Now, if the Naval Vote were analysed, and the reasons for its increase understood, the view taken by 1023 honourable Members on the other side that it is extravagant might be modified, or they would, at any rate, be received with less respect. No one knows better than he that the main cause of the present expenditure is the deplorable way in which past Admiralties —I make no distinction between one Government and another—had lost sight of the necessity for keeping in an efficient state our docks, dockyard works, dredging, and other appliances, and coaling stations. All Governments had allowed these matters to drop out of sight for many a year. The present Government have felt it to be their bounden duty to make large demands on this House and the country, this year and last year, in order to bring up the arrears of work in this direction. That is one cause of the increased Estimates. For this year alone £806.000 is asked for these special works. That is a large sum, but it does not include other large sums of money which will be demanded from the House under the Loans Act for Naval Barracks. These sums are asked for for work that is not directly reproductive, but it adds enormously to the efficiency of our Fleet, although it is not apparent on the high seas. Such work was not thought of 12 years ago. But if war came at a short notice it is evident that we must be prepared for it, and be ready to send the Fleet to sea in a week's time. Therefore, we must have sailors, marines and firemen all prepared, and this cannot be done without a large expenditure. Everyone knows that we cannot draw a comparison between the expenditure on the Navy 15 or 20 years ago, and the present expenditure. Everybody knows, in this scientific age, how enormously the cost of building ships has increased. Again, armour has increased in price since that period, for new methods have been invented of hardening iron. Then, as to guns, you have gone from muzzle-loaders to breech-loaders, and from breech-loaders to quick-firing breechloaders, and to wire guns. All this adds enormously to the expense. Another point I wish to impress upon the House. In olden times—at any rate, up to 13 years ago—the Naval Gun Vote did not appear in the Naval Estimates, but in the Army Estimates. That Vote was then a million and a quarter, but now it has been transferred from the Army 1024 Vote to its proper place in the Navy Vote, and that tends to swell the Navy Vote, People have short memories now-a-days, and they forget all this. The Gun Vote since these days has increased from one and a quarter million to £2,800,000, so that in this one direction alone the Navy Vote, which was formerly a modest one, is swelled by nearly three millions of money. People do not understand how the Navy Vote has grown, but it has grown by taking off a large slice of the Army Vote, and adding it to the Navy Vote. The House will also remember that there is a large non-effective Vote amounting to £2,300,000. That means pensions, retired pay, gratuities, and also civil pensions. When you add all these together you have a sum of near six millions, which formerly never appeared in the Navy Estimates at all. As I have said, if you come to analyse the Navy Votes and explain the reasons for their increase, I am sure the fears of honourable Members will disappear, that we are running into extravagance. In drawing any comparison between the present Naval expenditure and that of 15 or 20 years ago, all this must be taken into account. My honourable and gallant Friend behind me (the Member for Holderness)—an old and distinguished Member of this House—says that in his opinion—and he held that opinion last year—that the condition of the Navy as it stands, so far as sea power on the high seas is concerned, is amply sufficient. I do not agree with him; and I do not think that that view was held last year by the noble Lord the Member for York, except in as far as battleships are concerned. I do not believe that that view is held largely by Naval men. We have never admitted that the number of our cruisers is sufficient to guard efficiently our commerce; and I do not believe that there is any Naval man who would not warmly support the Admiralty if they can see their way to add still more cruisers to the Fleet. It is not for me to indicate what that number should be. Take some of our most distinguished men—for example, the late Admiral Geoffrey Hornby—he held very strong opinions in regard to this question, that the number of the cruisers was still wholly inadequate. These views are held by responsible men who are competent to 1025 form a judgment and advise on this question. I now turn to one or two points which specially interest myself; and I hope I shall not trespass too long on the attention of the Committee. I trust the honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty or the Civil Lord may see their way to explain the points to which I am going to refer. I notice under the head of Royal Marines on page 5 of the First Lord's Memorandum that the rifle ranges at Plymouth are still not available. They are just as they were last year; and the musketry practice of the Plymouth division is being carried out at Gosport. I remember raising this question last year, and I was told that new land was required at Plymouth for the ranges, and that the matter was under the consideration of the War Office. And now a similar statement is made this year. Is there any justification for this? Why does not the Civil Lord badger somebody and put an end to this miserable state of things? We spend a large amount of money in bringing marines and officers by railway to the Browndown range to carry out their musketry practice. The thing is too preposterous, and ought to be put an end to. It is a waste of public money. The War Office moves more slowly than the Admiralty, and I should like those who know more of the War Office than I do to give us their views on this question. It amounts to a scandal that 12 months should have been wasted without a step having been taken in providing the rifle range, and that we are still no forwarder than we were. I note with great pleasure the paragraph regarding the Naval Reserve, and that the men of the new seamen class are being drawn largely from the fishing population of the United Kingdom. I hope the Scotch fishermen especially will enrol in as large numbers as you can provide training for them. They are a fine hardy set of men, and could be most easily drilled. On page 7 of the First Lord's Memorandum it is said that the drill ships' armaments are being completed in accordance with a plan arranged some years ago. We had that statement made last year; but I inspected one of these ships last year—the "Daedalus"—and found a 6-inch gun lying on the deck, and a 4.7-inch gun lying on the deck unmounted. I 1026 asked why the guns were unmounted, and was told in answer that they did not mount them because they were going to be supplied with a new ship, which had been promised. I should like to ask whether that new ship has been provided. I see from another paragraph that you are going to send a gun boat to Portishead to take firing parties to sea. There was a gunboat there in my time, but it was worn out. Are you going to send another? Under the head of mobilisation, I see nothing whatever to indicate that the Admiralty intend to mobilise the Fleet. I hope the House will press on the Admiralty to carry out a mobilisation this year. There is nothing more important. Crews are able to shake down in their places, and many faults are found to exist which, without mobilisation, would most probably not be detected. If you were suddenly to mobilise for war you would not be in a position to rectify these defects. I hope the Admiralty will see their way to carry out some summer manoeuvres this year. I rejoice there is to be so much new construction as the Memorandum indicates, and that a new type of cruisers is to be built. Although they are not to carry 9.2-inch guns, they are to carry 2.6-inch quick-firing guns forward and two aft in turrets. That is a very valuable improvement, no matter to whom we are indebted for it—whether to the Comptroller or to the Chief Constructor of the Navy— both very able men, and well adapted for their posts. We are grateful for that change, for some of us think that some of the former cruisers were not adequately armed—especially the cruisers of the "Diadem" class. I see no provision is made for the construction of 8-inch guns, and I ask the attention of the honourable Member for West Belfast, who has paid great attention to these matters, to this. It is very strange that our naval advisers do not see their way to adopt the 8-inch gun. I do not see why they should not. We have tied ourselves to 6-inch, and 9.2-inch guns. The Americans have adopted the 8-inch gun, and so have the Japanese. We saw them at the Naval Review on board the "Brooklyn," and also on board the Japanese warship in Portsmouth Harbour. I was very much struck with these guns, and I should like to see some of our 1027 cruisers carying 8-inch guns forward and aft. The matter should receive more attention than it has yet received. It is stated that a new 12-inch breech-loading wire gun has been approved of. If rumour speaks correctly this 12-inch gun is not a success; that five tons is added to the weight; and that you get very little increased velocity or penetrating power. If that is so, I think something is wrong with the design, and that it is not worth the extra weight you have put on board ship. I am not confident in the matter, for it is only a rumour which has reached me, and I hope it will be contradicted. In the old 12-inch gun we have a most efficient gun to accomplish all our objects. I have heard still worse rumours about the primers. That is a most important matter. Unless the primers are reliable, the gun will not go off at the proper time, and the enemy's ship will not be hit. Those primers want looking into. Rumours have reached me of a very ugly character. I will not tell the House what I have heard, because I hope the mischief may be remedied, but I am sure it calls for searching inquiry, and a large expenditure and loss will be involved if the facts are such as I have heard by these rumours. I have another question to put to my honourable Friend, and that is as to this great increase in ammunition. It is very large, and it will involve a large addition of some kind in some place or other, or more places than one, to our magazines and stores. What are you going to do? Have you a programme for enlarging magazines? The Toulon disaster will have taught you caution in the placing of your magazines in the vicinity of large dockyard towns, or any other towns elsewhere. I have an idea that it is in contemplation to bring a large increase of this new cordite ammunition, and probably melinite and lyddite ammunition, to Priddy's Hard. Everyone who knows Portsmouth knows Priddy's Hard. If that is so, I will use every effort to oppose the Admiralty in this design. It has been a very important magazine for many years, and it has been used with efficiency for storing ordinary gunpowder and shell. This new kind of powder, although everybody has confidence in it, is of recent introduction, and I think in whatever magazines you have to receive this new 1028 ammunition, above all melinite and lyddite, each ought to have a magazine to itself, and ought not be mixed up with the old kind of ammunition. Where you are to place it I do not know. It is a very difficult question, and I think you ought to have a Committee to consider it. To bring in a large increase of ammunition right opposite Portsmouth Dockyard after the Toulon experience is a matter which requires very grave consideration. If it is done, it will be the duty of some of us to oppose it with all our energy. I am rather inclined to think that it would be well to try floating magazines. If you like to excavate in the Portsmouth mud, you might find a site not easily approached for a magazine until you have more experience in the character of this ammunition when stored in large quantities. I pass away from that, because I am satisfied that the matter will be considered. I come rapidly on to the Works Vote. I am glad to see there is a sum of money to be expended in adapting our new naval base at Wei-hai-Wei. I commend the Admiralty's decision in losing no time in sending out their dredger. As far as I can, gather, good progress has been made in Gibraltar, with the exception of the docks. I should like to know what progress has been made with the dock. My honourable Friend on my right says that we were promised that the two things should go on together; the excavation of the rock for the dock would be necessary, in order that the material might be used in helping to construct the mole. I have no doubt the Civil Lord will give us some information. I will not dwell upon that. Then I see in the Memorandum that there is a sum of money—£2,500—put down for other works in which the Navy is greatly interested. I presume, and hope, that he will be able to tell me that this is really a grant-in-aid for the works in connection with the Auckland Dock. We agitated that question last Session. I understand that a Commissioner of the Harbour Board of Auckland is in England now, and in association with the Admiralty. I am very glad to see that grant down for £2,500, and a grant of £2,000 for the Halifax Dock. We cannot have too many docks, and when they are built for us by the Colonial authorities, it is our duty to accept them gratefully; and 1029 this House will never grudge a grant-in-aid for the building of docks where required. I think with these remarks I may bring my speech to a conclusion, except to say that I regret to see the reduction in ammunition, which I do not quite understand. I do not know how a decrease of £27,850 in projectiles can be justified. There is a large increase in the Gun Vote. For guns there is an increase practically of £272,000, yet there is this decrease for projectiles. Well, guns are useless without projectiles, but I daresay some explanation may be forthcoming, therefore I will not press the matter.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
I think the speech of the late Civil Lord was not particularly appropriate. The impression he left was that of being "willing to wound, but yet afraid to strike." I think it would have been a great deal better that the honourable Member should have spoken definitely. I can quite understand the view that we ought to have no increase in the Navy Estimates, but I cannot understand the particular utility of throwing doubt on the wisdom of this increase and that increase, or the general total, yet not vouchsafing one single suggestion as to what particular Estimates ought to be diminished and what ought to be left out of the programme. I do not see the utility of that course of action. I do not believe the Committee or the country will be particularly impressed by a series of conundrums which were set to the Committee with regard to the particular form in which the Estimates were presented this year and last year. I think we have a Committee of Public Accounts which, if any gross irregularity is committed, will inform the House of the fact. I think that the main facts are perfectly well known, that, as the honourable Member for Devonport has said, the Government stated that an emergency had arisen, and they asked for a free hand, and they obtained it. I think nearly everybody in the House will appreciate the situation, and will be content that it should be acted upon in the way in which it was acted upon. But there was a part of the honourable Member's speech which I confess I wish he had pursued, because it would have been very fruitful indeed. I did not quite understand 1030 whether his suggestion as to economy-was to be considered merely as a platitude, or whether it was going to end in a proposal. I suppose no honourable Member of the House is more competent, in the first place by his own knowledge and ability, and in the second place by his vast experience, to put his linger upon these points and tell the Committee where it is that these reductions are to be made. For several years the honourable Member was familiar with the whole interior economy of the Admiralty. I think it would have been a great deal more satisfactory at the present time, when it is of importance to make the public understand the reason why the Navy is necessary, and why a large expenditure is legitimate, if he had pointed out definitely those points in which we might, without detriment to efficiency, have made a reduction, instead of favouring the Committee with these general views which, I am sure, we are all agreed upon—that useless expenditure is undesirable, and that it is a pity to spend too much money if you do not get a return. I think it would have been helpful if the honourable Member had been a little more definite. In regard to the other matter dealt with by the honourable Member for Gateshead, I do not know that it is very profitable for us, who are unacquainted with technical matters, to discuss it, but as an outside student of these matters I think that it is worthy of more attention than was given to it by the honourable Member the late Civil Lord. We cannot quite afford to dismiss it in the summary fashion that he suggested. I have never been able to convince myself that the honourable Member for Gateshead had the best of the argument. I have always felt that there is this enormous amount of testimony in favour of the Belville boiler, of which myself I am not a great admirer, and that we are bound to take cognisance of that testimony, and of the fact that the United States Admiralty, which is exceedingly alive to its best interests, is deliberately, after the experience of the war, adopting the Belville boiler, that the French Admiralty is continuing the use of the Belville boiler, and that we have great bodies such as the Institute of Engineers giving practically unanimous testimony 1031 in favour of the Belville boiler. These are facts which I do not think we are justified in disregarding. On the other hand, I know how strongly the honourable Member for Gateshead feels, and I think he is not altogether singular in that. He has, at any rate, this justification in his demand for an inquiry, that the whole of the ships, almost without exception, that have been fitted with Belville boilers have been unfortunate in one way or another. Now, I know a great deal too much about this question to attribute all these misfortunes to the boilers, and I think it is a weak part of the honourable Member's case that he has not been able to give us specific instances of breakdowns of ships which have been directly attributed to the boilers.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
The "Terrible" is, of course, a case in point, and I think I can point to similar cases in other ships; but still, it is a weak point that he has not been able to specifically connect the failure of the boilers with the breakdown of ships which undoubtedly has taken place. This fact does remain, that almost all the ships to which he has alluded have been so unfortunate in their trials that there has been practically very little test of their steaming capacities at all. I know there have been exceptions—one or two of the "Circe" class, which have been thoroughly satisfactory from beginning to end, and no doubt one or two of the "Diadem" class—but, speaking generally, it is true. Whether you take he "Powerful" and the "Terrible," or the "Niobe," or three or four other ships of the second-class, or the "Vindictive" class, you will find there have been innumerable accidents upon these ships which have interfered with their trials, and which have prevented us from getting a real estimate of what their capacities at sea would be under service conditions. One also knows this fact, which is undoubted, that the expenditure of coal on these ships is perfectly colossal. And though we are told, and I am sure I hope it is true, that the use of the economiser will greatly reduce this expenditure, there is no doubt that the expenditure of coal on vessels of the "Vindictive" class is altogether out of 1032 proportion to the result obtained. I would suggest that it would be greatly to the advantage of the House and the country if something could be done similar to what is being done in the United States, and we could have a report containing a fair and clear account of what has been the history of all these ships. It is an unfortunate remark that was made by the honourable Member opposite, that we were still in the experimental stage in regard to this Belville boiler. We ought not to be in the experimental stage now that we have so many ships and so much money involved. Our judgment can only be in suspense, because the facts are not very clear. A very considerable number of these ships are already in commission, and a very large number of ships are being built, and will be put into commission, and it is unfortunate that it should still be open to any honourable Member to say that we have not yet got the facts before us for judgment. It does seem to be a reasonable thing that we should have the facts before us before the money is voted. There ought to have been a series of explanations which would have made it impossible the honourable Member for Holderness to make the remark he made this evening. I wish the Government could give us some document such as is given by the Bureau of Navigation in Washington, wherein we could have the life history of these ships, the whole of he three classes, and could learn what has happened to these ships. I am perfectly prepared to find this result, that all the accidents which have happened to these ships have been accidents to machinery, and nothing whatever to do with the boilers. But the excessive coal consumption is a thing which may be remedied; and I think it is only due to my honourable Friend opposite, and to all persons who are interested, that this thing should not be kept in the dark, but that we should have almost an unusual amount of information given to us with regard to what is on all hands admitted to be a most important matter. I have only one thing more to say, and that on a totally different topic. I have some hesitation in pressing my remarks on my honourable Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty, because it might seem that I was pressing him in his capacity as an Irish Member, and not in is capacity as a Member of the Govern- 1033 ment. I am sure he will dismiss that idea from his mind, and will follow my remarks as they should be followed by reason of their connection with the best interests of the Navy. But I cannot refrain from saying that I do believe it would have been a fair and a just and a right thing that some attempt should at least be made by the Admiralty to allow Ireland to participate in the enormous expenditure which we are making. I am not one of those, and I do not think | anyone would make that charge against me, who desire to support any local interest against the interest of the Navy at large. But when I see £26,000,000 sterling spent on the Navy, and when I reflect that as far as Ireland is concerned practically speaking, that expense might as well not be incurred at all, I say there is room for some change. And I say this, not only on the ground of expenditure, which, of course, is very-valuable, but on another ground. I put it on the ground that it is desirable in the public interest to engage the attention of all parts of the United Kingdom in this great service of the Navy, and, as far as Ireland is concerned, and especially that part which I represent, there might not be a British Navy at all. We have once or twice in the last few years seen a ship, but we have no English ships in our waters, and no prospect of English ships, or anything of the kind. We have not got even a gun-boat station in our waters. We have no training ships; the whole of the training ships, with one single exception, are spread over the coasts of England and Scotland. My right honourable and gallant Friend reminds me that we have a training ship in Ireland. Where? At Cork. Why? Well, Sir, that is a question which I do not think I am called upon to give an answer to. I come with bad credentials in this matter. I cannot press my claims in the way which is calculated to enforce attention. Those whom I represent are perfectly loyal. They have no desire to see any misfortune happen to the Navy. They are not prepared to interrupt and interfere in the Debates of this House. They have always been too loyal, if I may express myself so, to receive that attention which has been so amply afforded to persons who are more fortunate than I and my colleagues in the North of 1034 Ireland. Sir, we do not desire that this unfortunate position should be maintained any longer. We think that there has been enough disappointment and enough discouragement thrown upon those who are only very loyal, and we firmly believe—I know, at any rate, that a very large number of those whom I represent believe—that if we were to change our method, and to join ourselves to the Party with which we cannot join ourselves, we should, at any rate, receive a little more respectful attention in the demand we make, and in which we have never yet got more than a mere put-off—not even a reasoned argument; we have merely been told that it is incompatible with the interests of the Navy that it should be done. Now, Sir, it is not for me to make suggestions. I have made them, and have had very scant attention. But I say it is incumbent upon the Government to give some little attention to this claim by the North of Ireland, and to see whether they cannot, without interfering with the legitimate interests of the Navy committed to their charge, allow the North of Ireland—I do not say the North of Ireland only; I will say, if you like, the whole of Ireland—to participate in some measure in the expenditure on the Navy, and what is to me even far more important, to become participators in the life and work and interests which the Navy excites in England and Scotland, and which, I believe, it would excite, if given a chance, in Ireland, and I am certain it would excite in Ulster. I commend this matter to my honourable Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty, and I do hope that at least we may get something more than one of these perfunctory replies, of which, I am bound to say, some of us are very tired indeed, and that we may get from him a promise that something will be done.
§ MR. STEADMAN (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
It is not my intention, Mr. O'Connor, to criticise the notion of Her Majesty's Government in reference to our Navy, because, although a man of peace myself, I believe the most practical way of ensuring peace is to have a strong Navy, much stronger than any other European Power has, at any rate, at the present moment. But, Sir, with your permission, I should like to say 1035 one or two words to the Committee in reference to the manner in which the men are treated in Her Majesty's Navy. It is one thing to build ships, but it is altogether a different thing to man the ships. The First Lord of the Admiralty told the House a few days back that he was going to increase the Navy by men and boys to the number of something like four thousand odd. Now, Sir, there is one class of men employed in Her Majesty's Navy in which I am particularly interested—the shipwrights, and I think there is no body of men, no body of mechanics, who are treated worse than are the shipwrights to-day in Her Majesty's Navy. I was down at Portsmouth Dockyard myself on Saturday last, and I went over some of the ships, and I found that some mechanics had got good messrooms, somewhere to put their food, and someone to wait upon them. Even the stokers had good messrooms and someone to cook their food. What is the position of the shipwright? The poor shipwright—the man who, after all, is the most important, if any mechanic is important, because unless you get the hull of a ship constructed you cannot put engines and boilers into her; therefore, I maintain the shipwright is the most important, if there is any distinction, among the whole of the mechanics employed in Her Majesty's Navy—the shipwright, instead of having a decent messroom, instead of having someone to wait upon him and cook his food, has got to act the menial's part by having his food where he can get it between the decks, and not only to do that, but to cook his own food himself, to clean his own utensils, and to scrub decks. The honourable and gallant Member for Eastbourne on Monday evening stated in this House that the reason Her Majestys' Government were not able to secure sufficient shipwrights to man the Navy was in consequence of the tyranny of the trades unions. I deny that statement. I say, in the first place, it is not a true statement, and in the second place, the reason why Her Majesty's Government are not able to secure sufficient shipwrights is the manner in which the men are treated. Why, if shipwrights are treated properly, or any other body of men are treated properly, by Her Majesty's 1036 Government, they will have no need to fear the trades unions or any other organisation. No trades union in existence can prevent a man from going to get a job where he can get the highest price; but while the Government to-day pays shipwrights the low rate of wages they do, 4s. a day, whilst an engineer gets 5s. 6d., whilst they also pay 15 per cent, less than the current rate around the coast, it stands to reason that while work is busy in private and commercial shipbuilding yards, men will go and work there in preference to going into the Navy or working in the dockyards. Well, the honourable and gallant Member for Eastbourne congratulated the Government upon their new departure. What is their new departure? Their new departure is to get lads, apprentice them for four years in the dockyard, and after they have served four years in the dockyard they are going to put them on board Her Majesty's ships as full-flown shipwrights. They are not to take the place of shipwrights, but to fill up the gaps which the Government are unable to fill up at the present moment. I maintain that, instead of that being one of the best methods ever adopted by Her Majesty's Government, it is going to be one of the worst. Why is it going to be one of the worst? I myself served seven years to learn my trade, and it takes seven years for a mechanic to properly learn his trade. And in most cases he learns more of his trade in the first 12 months after he has gone out of his apprenticeship, because he is then on his own beat, as it were. Whilst, as an apprentice, he is not responsible for any work he spoils, when he becomes a journeyman mechanic he is responsible for his work, and he takes a greater interest in it, and learns more in these first 12 months than he got out of his apprenticeship over the whole seven years before. And it stands to reason, therefore, that these lads will not learn sufficient—nothing near sufficient—in the four years of their work in the dockyards. It is true they will learn a bit, they will get a smattering more when they get on board ship, but in the four years in the dockyard, and in the time they are in the Navy, they will never become efficient mechanics, able to perform the work that they should perform as shipwrights. My own father was a 1037 shipwright, and he took a fit into his head one day to join Her Majesty's Navy, but he was not in it more than a very few weeks before he wanted to get out of it quicker than he had wanted to get into it, so well was he treated. My own brother has been a carpenter for years in the Merchant Service. Last year he joined the American Navy. He did not go into the American Navy as a menial, as a man to scrub decks, etc., nor join at a carpenter's screw at the rate of 2s. 8d. per day. When he joined the American Navy he was made a full-flown officer at once, and then as soon as he joined the navy his wages were 90 dollars per month. That is the way to treat a man; and my brother is only one of a number of English seamen to-day who prefer the American Navy because they are treated far better than they are treated in the English Navy, and they leave our service when they have an opportunity and join the American Navy. Now, Mr. O'Connor, if we want to get men, and we have not got the men—it is all very well for the First Lord to tell the House that he has got the men; as a matter of fact, you are working short-handed to-day in Portsmouth Dockyard, and in other dockyards, because you cannot get the men—if you want men to man the ships, you have got to treat them as men, and not as menials, the same as you are doing at the present moment. And when you are prepared to treat them as men, and not as menials, and pay them a higher rate of pay than you art-paying them at the present time, then you will get all the men that are necessary to man Her Majesty's Navy in times of need and anxiety.
§ SIR E. LEES (Birkenhead)
I would ask my honourable Friend the Under Secretary a question which, I think, can be dealt with very briefly, but which is, nevertheless, one of great importance to the Empire. I refer to the question of armour. When the First Lord was framing Estimates to maintain our command of the sea, he necessarily took into account rapidity of construction. That rapidity is a very serious affair, and is hindered by a deficient supply of armour. I myself have seen Her Majesty's ship "Mars" lying for months waiting for the necessary armour to complete her construc- 1038 tion. Attention has been called to the extraordinary rapidity with which the "Glory" has been floated, but I believe that ship would have been commissioned months ago had the armour been ready to be built in when the structure was ready to receive it. I was asked by the late Mr. John Laird, whose great authority is admitted by all connected with the Admiralty, to bring this point before the attention of the House and the country. It was unnecessary to do so last year, because it was fully dealt with by the First Lord himself, but it has not been dealt with during the present Debate, and I should be pleased if my honourable Friend will say a few words on the matter when he replies. I note the statement of the First Lord that there was a short supply of 8,000 tons of armour during the past year, and that the Admiralty hoped that this will be partially remedied in the future, and that a sufficient supply for the ensuing year will be obtained. I should like to know on what ground my right honourable Friend bases that hope. I am well aware that some of this armour is supplied by firms which have very lately been reconstructed, and I hope he will be able to reassure the House in the matter. I should be glad if my honourable Friend will tell us also how many firms are able to supply this armour, and what is done abroad as regards the supply of armour. France, Germany, and probably Italy, supply their own armour, but I should like to know if some of the great Powers are not partially dependent on this country for their supply. I am sure my honourable Friend will be able in a few words to deal with this very important matter. On the general question it seems to me that the very large Estimates which we have to face this year are not likely to diminish for some years to come. I think foreign nations and statesmen are awakening to the immense power given by the command of the sea. I think it is evident they cannot pursue a policy of colonisation without placing themselves to some extent in the power of the nation which commands the sea. They are beginning to realise that every colony they found and every port they open, and every railway which depends for its traffic on sea-borne trade, is a hostage and a pledge for their good behaviour given 1039 into the hands of the greatest sea Power in the world, and, as they realise that more and more, they are more and more likely to resent it, and to endeavour to equalise their own strength. But for us it is absolutely vital, for them it is not, to control the sea. I hope that all parties in this House and in the country will continue to realise how vital that is, not only to our position as an Empire, but to our existence as a country. If the same feeling continues which we have seen during the last few years there is no doubt we shall be able to maintain our position, but I think it is well that it should be constantly borne in mind that we are undertaking these sacrifices for some years to come in order to maintain our position in command of the sea.
§ *SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
I only intend to make a few remarks which grow out of the Debate of this evening. The matter mentioned by the honourable Member for Birkenhead is one which, as he will remember, has been brought before the House year after year. Just as we used to blame former Governments for having allowed ships to be delayed by having to wait for guns, sufficient provision not having been made, so we have for the past few years blamed the present Government for not having sufficiently foreseen in advance the necessary supply of armour; and I think we must consider the necessity for widening the area of that supply, either by constructing armour ourselves, or by giving engagements to other firms to induce them to put up proper plant. It is not right that ships should be delayed for want of armour or by the absence of slips on which to build them. On the question of slips, I should like to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty to make a clearer explanation than he did the other night with regard to what is to occur at Devonport. A year ago the deficiency of slips as well as of armour was pointed out to the First Lord, and he gave as a reason for postponing that portion of his programme, when he was pressed last year, that he was making an inquiry at Devonport with regard to the possibility of increasing the number of slips. That inquiry was made a year ago, but no reference to it appears either in the Memorandum or the speech 1040 of the First Lord. When I asked the Secretary to the Admiralty a Question on the matter, he used a very curious phrase, to the effect that some Estimates were being made for the purpose of considering the erection of other slips.
§ *SIR C. DILKE
What does that mean? Does it mean that they are to be put off until the Estimates for 1900–1?
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The present Estimate is to clear and prepare the sites for the slips. That is as much as we can do this year.
§ *SIR C. DILKE
The only other remark I wish to make arises out of the speech of the honourable Member for Dundee. We must be thankful for small mercies. At the present moment we all know there is an uneasy feeling in the constituencies with reference to our increasing expenditure, and it is incumbent on every Member of this House to search out means of economy. We were all pleased at the references he made at the close of his speech to the chances of future means of economy in the working of the Navy itself. My honourable Friend the Member for Belfast did attack him, although in courteous language, for only making that suggestion of economy now. That is not fair, for he was not in a position of great power when he was at the Admiralty, but he did point out certainly in this House where economy might be effected. But, as I have said, we must be thankful for small mercies, especially those of us who imagine that it is the greatest mistake from the national point of view that we should economise on the Navy. I notice a certain difference in the tone of the Debate to-night from that of a few days ago. The late Secretary to the Admiralty, in his speech the other night, used words which were repeated to-night by the honourable Member for Devon-port. I do not want to hold the right honourable Gentleman to the particular words which he used to clothe his thoughts, but it now appears that there was not that deliberate intention which we imagined was conveyed by the words he uttered in the presence of the Leader 1041 of the Opposition, that the present programme was to be opposed. We learn to-night that the right honourable Gentleman only intended to ask for information with regard to the Russian programme, a request which the honourable Member for Dundee has also addressed to the House. That is a fair demand. I do not think that the honourable Member for Belfast distinguished sufficiently in his criticism of the speech of the honourable Member for Dundee what was said last year as to the form and what as to the actual merits of the Government proposals. Some of us were strongly in favour of the Government programme of last July. We pressed for it in advance, and we thought it absolutely necessary and barely sufficient. We held that view as strongly as it was possible to hold it, yet we, nevertheless, agreed with the strictures on form made by the Opposition. That question of form is of enormous importance from the point of Parliamentary procedure, but from the point of view of the Navy it is a trifling matter. The programme of last July was generally supported in this House, and the opposition to it by the then Leader of the Opposition was on a point of form, not of substance. The honourable Member for Dundee has alluded to what he said last year, and although some of us would be glad to see a more confident tone in support of the Government proposals as a whole, we must be satisfied at the way he put the matter before us, especially after what occurred the other day. In February 1898 the honourable Member for Dundee pointed out the enormous deficiency in the shipbuilding programme. That was admitted. There was no contest as to the actual fact of that deficiency, and the Government were pressed regarding it from all sides. With reference to the larger programme proposed last July, the honourable Member for Dundee said it was proposed in such a form that it was not sanctioned by the House. There was strong opposition to the form in which the proposals were put forward, but the honourable Member for Belfast is right in saying that substantially that programme was sanctioned by both sides. As regards this year's programme all opposition appears for the moment to be withdrawn, and there is 1042 now only a demand for information on the Russian programme. I am glad we remain in the same position as last year, as the honourable Member for Dundee has said that on the merits he was disposed to agree with the programme before the House. On the question as to whether the Government have shown a sufficient case as regards the proposals of Russia we are absolutely in the hands of the Government. As far as they are concerned the facts are not within the knowledge of the public. For my own part I can only repeat what I have said in this House before, that I am so convinced of the weight which is given to this country by the efficiency of the Fleet that I shall support the policy of the Government on this subject. I hope, if economies are necessary, they will be made in other quarters. One other word: it is with reference to a question put by the honourable Member for Devonport to the Government. He asked in the begining of his speech that some statement might be made in the speech of the First Lord or in the Memorandum as to the effects produced by the conference of certain Colonies with regard to the proposal on men that was made last year. The difficulties which were pointed out in two former years appear to be far less strong now. We know the matter was dealt with and considered in the case of Newfoundland, but we have not heard that any definite proposal was made. It was not, I think, stated in the House, and if the Secretary to the Admiralty can give any information I am sure it will receive attention.
§ *MR. MENDL (Plymouth)
Like my right honourable Friend who has just sat down, I have not risen for the purpose of criticising the amount of the Estimates, or suggesting any economy in the naval strength of this country. I find myself in complete agreement with my right honourable Friend the Member for Birkenhead, that it is absolutely vital for us that we should maintain the naval supremacy we now have over other nations, and if economy is to be practised this year—and it is necessary that economy should be practised—the very last direction in which it should be practised is in the direction of our naval supremacy. 1043 These are days when it is not expedient that a righteous man should go about unarmed. But I have not risen for the purpose of proclaiming what I hope has become a truism. The observations which I intended to make have been largely dealt with by my honourable Friend the Member for Devonport. The question of shipwrights and the scheme by which the Admiralty propose to supplement them is one which, to my knowledge, is exciting great interest in the Service. I do not believe that under that scheme the Admiralty will get the best value for their money. I don't think it is a question of trade combination. It is a question of efficiency. I desire to associate myself with the views expressed by the Member for Stepney as to the extreme skill this branch requires. As regards the stokers, it is sometimes forgotten that they have received less increase in pay during the last 30 years than any other branch of the Service. They have been performing duties of greater complexity and difficulty, owing to the advance in marine engineering, than at any other time. Their pay was fixed over 30 years ago; they have to perform their duties under very hard conditions. They have to spend a considerable amount of their lives without seeing the sun, and I think their case ought to be taken into consideration. Again, with regard to the engine-room artificers, they have also, I think, a very strong case, both with regard to the new Admiralty warrants, and also with regard to their messing and other accommodation, which, they complain, is in a dilapidated and inadequate condition. One of the matters to which I desire the attention of the Committee is the question of warrant officers. The warrant officers of the Royal Navy have for many years past asked that they should get a further step, and have Fleet rank, corresponding with the quartermaster or riding-master rank in the Army, and special rates of pay for boatswains and carpenters. Those privileges are enjoyed by all other commissioned and warrant officer ranks in the Service and I see no reason why this exceedingly reasonable desire should not be considered. They have also a grievance with regard to their promotion to the rank of chief warrant officer. 1044 Some get it at 18 years' seniority, and others after 24 years. There is no reason, as far as I know, why all should not get it after 18 years' seniority, and thus remedy a block to promotion. These are all the observations I wish to make at this stage of the discussion, and I shall not detain the Committee longer.
§ *MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
I should like to join in the request made by my honourable Friend the Member for West Belfast, that a training ship should be placed in Belfast Lough. It is a source of great annoyance to the inhabitants of Belfast and adjoining districts that the Government has hitherto ignored the reasonable request that a training ship should be placed in the Lough in order that they should be given the opportunity of seeing the vessel themselves, and also of joining Her Majesty's Navy. I do not wish in the least degree to advocate the claims of Belfast against any other portion of Ireland. I rejoice to see anything done for any part of Ireland, and I am not in the least jealous of anything that has been done for Queenstown. I earnestly urge upon the First Lord of the Admiralty and my honourable Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty the expediency of complying with this very earnest request from Belfast. As my honourable Friend the Member for West Belfast has said, we are not likely to kick up a row in Belfast if we don't get what we want, but some Members of Her Majesty's Government are threatened with opposition because this and other demands from Belfast are not listened to. We feel that a firm like Harland and Wolff, that was able to launch the "Oceanic," would be well worthy of supplying material for Her Majesty's Navy. I said I would not occupy more than a few minutes, and I only rise to join in the complaint of my honourable Friend the Member for West Belfast on this subject. He seems to think that, because he is importunate, the Government will probably not listen to him. However, great weight is given to his words, and his labours are appreciated, not only by his own constituency, but also by others.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
The right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean has just told the House 1045 that he cordially supports the naval programme of the Government, especially for the increased Vote for new construction, and the support which this programme—large as it is— has received from all sides of the House makes it perfectly clear to those who attempt to criticise it that the support of such criticism will be small, and that the country is distinctly in favour of this programme. The right honourable Baronet speaks of the feeling of uneasiness which, he thinks, exists in certain portions of the country with regard to our growing Navy. I do not think that this nervousness exists to any great extent. I think it is perfectly easy for any Member who wishes to make out a good case to his constituency for this naval expenditure, and a satisfactory defence which would induce them to support him again as a supporter of the Government which has brought forward this Naval Programme. I was very glad to hear the honourable Member for Stepney also support this naval expenditure. I think it is very significant that a gentleman who is closely connected with trade organisations and with a large section of the working classes should cordially give his support to the programme of the Government. After all, this naval expenditure is nothing more or less than a national insurance. That is almost a hackneyed phrase, but great naval and military expenditure is nothing but a national insurance. I would suggest to those who wish to advance this policy that the question to put before the electorate is this—that this is a national insurance, and to point out how this national insurance compares with similar national insurances of other countries. I understand that the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe said the other night that he did not see sufficient reasons for the two new battleships. If I am not misinterpreting him in what he said, he might have found a sufficient reason if he looked at the tremendous menaces to which this country is exposed. He might have seen the great conspiracy worked against this country in many quarters of the globe, which is now at last being dissipated, and which has been dissipated by the fact that we have an overwhelming Navy. Two great rivals and perhaps enemies who were engaged in this 1046 conspiracy, and who certainly were, to a certain extent, successful, are at last being thoroughly convinced of the naval preponderance of this country, and have been compelled to withdraw from their conspiracy and their agressive attitude. It is due to our great naval expenditure and our naval supremacy that the carefully planned and carried out conspiracies of our two great rivals against the interests of this country have been practically foiled. I spoke just now of our national insurance, as to how it contrasted with that of other countries. Perhaps the House will allow me to trouble it with a few figures on this point. The national rate per cent, of our naval insurance, as compared with our Imperial commerce, is only 1.8 per cent., our naval expenditure this year being 26½ millions. The total military expenditure of this country, represented by our Navy and Army Votes, represents 3.7 per cent, of our Imperial commerce. In the case of France, her naval expenditure represents 3.4 per cent, of her Imperial commerce, and her total military expenditure no less than 11.1 per cent. Thus France is expending nearly three times as much on her Imperial defences in proportion as we are. Then again, the Russian expenditure on naval defence is 4.3 per cent. The total Russian military and naval expenditure together represent, as compared with her Imperial commerce, no less than 25 per cent., as against our 3.7 per cent. Next I come to Germany. That is the only one among the Great Powers of Europe that spends a smaller proportion on her Navy defence, as compared with her Imperial commerce, than we do. She spends only 1.5 per cent.; but if you add her military expenditure, you get 8.7 per cent. In every case, therefore, we have a good defence to put before the electors of this country. Another point is, as pointed out by the honourable Member for Stepney, that practically the whole of the money is expended in this country, and in giving employment to our own working men. And when you come to consider that it is upon the Navy that this country must rely, not only for the defence of its Imperial commerce, but also of its Imperial strength, and the protection of its Colonies and defences, I do not think that any elector of this country, however 1047 prejudiced he might be by misrepresentations and ideas that have been wrongly inculcated in the past, would fail to support the Government in their present naval proposals.
§ CAPTAIN YOUNG (Berks, Wokingham)
I will not detain the House many minutes. I wish to congratulate the Admiralty on the methods they have suggested of getting youngsters to be trained as naval shipwrights. If a youngster has to go to sea, the sooner he goes the better, for there he learns habits of discipline. I cannot, however, congratulate them so freely on their course on the question of leave for officers. They have no doubt done something this year, but still, what they have done is very far behind what these officers deserve, seeing that they have to serve in every climate and in all parts of the world for a period of three or four years. I sincerely hope they will use their exertions to see whether the leave of officers on the paying off of a ship cannot be increased. I also wish to support the case put forward by the honourable Member for Devonport, on behalf of the warrant officers. Senior officers in the Navy very much wish that these men should have their deserts recognised by the Admiralty. I believe them to be the backbone of the Navy, and if the Admiralty can see their way to grant their very small requirements, they will gain the thanks, not only of these officers themselves, but of every man in the Navy.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
I wish to say a word in support of my honourable Friend's appeal on behalf of the warrant officers, and I would like particularly to impress on the Government the really modest character of their demands. It is an extraordinary thing that among the officers of the Royal Navy there is no corresponding position for warrant officers to that of the quartermaster or riding master in the sister Service. They have no opportunity of rising to commissioned rank. I reduce my request to the very smallest possible dimensions, and I suggest to the Government that the chief warrant officer in a dockyard might at least be granted commissioned rank. He is an officer of importance, and holds a position of great responsibility, and it does not 1048 seem unreasonable that the distinction should be granted in a limited number of cases. There is one other point in connection with warrant officers that I should like to place before the Government. When a chief petty officer is promoted to be a warrant officer, I am informed that in many cases the increment of pay is very small indeed— that it is not sufficient to support his status, and hardly enough to provide him with a uniform suitable to his rank. I would suggest, therefore, that in these cases—it is not in every one that the increment is so small—it might be slightly increased. There is another class in the public service at the dockyard, many of whom I have the honour of representing, who also have a grievance that I wish to mention. I refer to the writers, who for many years have done practically the whole of the work. Recently there have been imported a certain superior kind of accountant officers, who have taken a position of superiority to the writers. The latter do not complain of that, but they do ask that where the writers are particularly deserving, they shall have the opportunity of rising to the superior rank. Then I have once more to draw attention to the position of the riggers of the Royal Navy and of the dockyards. The point I wish to impress upon the Government is the superannuation allowance system. As the honourable Gentleman knows, in the dockyards there are always a certain number of hired men, who, not being entitled to pensions—as the established men are—get rather higher pay during the period of their service. It would be imagined that the difference had some kind of relation to the pension which the established man becomes entitled to at the end of his service. There are some who pay 1s. 6d. and who do not receive a higher pension, but sometimes even a lower pension than others, who only pay to the extent of 1s. My honourable Friend shakes his head, but I think if he makes inquiries he will find that it is so. There is also the case of the riggers and the joiners which ought to be inquired into. There is a great difference of opinion between dockyard men as to what should be done. It is very undesirable and disadvantageous that a rule should exist which admits such apparent injustice as that. It may be that under the con- 1049 ditions in dockyard engagement no injustice is done. On that I pronounce no opinion, but an apparent injustice does as much harm as a real injustice, for the men think that they are cheated, and do not receive as much pension as they are entitled to, compared with men in other departments. The Government ought to reconsider the whole pension system. I think there is something to be said for giving some kind of pension in the cases of hired labour. They have received a certain improvement in their position, but it is not complete. If a hired man becomes a staff man he is paid half-pension; but if he never De-comes a staff man he has no claim for a pension at all. I know of a case of a man who is a son of a gentleman in a very high position in the public service. That man served 35 years as a hired man, and had risen to a position by merit, having a salary attached to it of £ 365 per annum, and a free house. One day he was suddenly dismissed, through no fault of his own, but simply because the Government thought they could reduce the amount of expenditure in his particular department. He received no compensation whatever, although he had served Her Majesty for 35 years, except a small gratuity of something under £ 300, the income of which would only amount to £11 or £12 per annum. The result was that he fell, as it were, in a month from the position of £365 per annum to £11. I do not say it was unjust, for undoubtedly he knew when he engaged in the public service the conditions under which he would serve; but I think if any private employer had had a servant for 35 years who had risen to that position without a blemish on his character, he would be treated with more generosity than the Admiralty treated this man. I have no doubt if my honourable Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty takes any notice of the remarks I have made that he will say that it is the fault of the law as it at present stands, and that the law cannot be altered without an Act of Parliament. What I say is, that in these pension matters the Admiralty ought, to some extent, to reconsider their scheme, and if it be necessary to come to Parliament for power to over-awe the Treasury, by all means let them do so.
§ On the return of the DEPUTY CHAIRMAN after the usual interval,
§ SIR E. GOURLEY (Sunderland)
Mr. O'Connor, I adopt, to a large extent, the views of the honourable Member for Gateshead in regard to the Belleville boilers. The Admiralty ought to institute some drastic trials with that type of boiler. If they were really possessed of all the advantages urged on their behalf, I feel sure that they would have long ere this been adopted by the ship-owners of the Mercantile Marine. The very fact of these boilers not having been adopted for general use in the Mercantile Marine proves, to my mind, that they are not adapted for all purposes and for all classes of vessels in Her Majesty's Navy. My belief is that before entering into contracts for boilers of this type for the new vessels we are constructing in accordance with our future programme, the Admiralty ought to make some further inquiry. More especially is this so in regard to the new yacht which is being built for Her Majesty. It is very desirable that Her Majesty should not be placed on board a vessel fitted with experimental boilers. The very fact of Her Majesty being on board a vessel fitted with experimental boilers must create a certain amount of fear and timidity. I hope, therefore, that in place of furnishing the Belleville type of boilers, or any other type of boilers, for that matter, for Her Majesty's yacht, the matter ought to receive the very serious consideration of the Admiralty. In regard to the new ships under construction, unless other contracts have been entered into for these vessels, I am in favour of their being furnished with triple expansion engines. We have had a very large amount of experience with these triple expansion engines in the Mercantile Marine, and that proves that they are in every way suited for propulsion as well as for economy in fuel. It is said on behalf of Belleville boilers that there would be economy in fuel. Nothing of the kind. Experiments that have been made prove that the Belleville type of boiler burns much more coal than any other. I urge the honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty to reconsider the question of the Belleville boilers, and also that of triple expansion engines. We have had very satisfactory experience in the Mercantile Marine with the 1051 triple expansion engines, and also in our own Navy, and in the other navies of the world. The large war vessel recently dispatched from Armstrong's Works in Newcastle—one of the most powerful vessels afloat—is furnished with triple expansion engines. The Japanese are always in the lead, and are a very knowing people. Had they been advised by Messrs. Armstrong, Whitworth, and Company to fit that vessel with the Belleville type of boiler they would have done so. That proves to us that builders of the wide experience of Armstrong, Whitworth, and Company are not in favour of this type of boiler. The honourable Member for Dundee to-night alluded to the question of expenditure, and considered that the expenditure, using the words of the First Lord, was colossal. He did not enter into details, but he endeavoured to point out that there might be some exercise of economy in regard to the increase in the number of men for the Navy. When the Naval Defence Act was introduced it was said in this House, and Lord Spencer when he introduced it into the House of Lords likewise alleged, that it was not intended that the new ships should be maintained on a war footing in times of peace—that the policy to which the Admiralty was committed was that the new ships should only be provided with a sufficient number of men to keep them in order. But the present Board of Admiralty has departed from that policy, and has determined to maintain these vessels of the Fleet on a war footing. I hold that this is an exceedingly extravagant policy. During the last 10 years the number of permanent men in the Navy has been increased by something like 40,000 men, and we find that 4,250 are this year about to be added to the permanent force. We have thus within the last 10 years a direct increase in the cost of the Navy of something like 3½ to 4 millions of money. That is the direct additional cost; but there are the indirect charges, such as pensions to be given to the additional men, which will swell the pension list that has already attained colossal proportions. I hold that it was never intended that the Reserve ships should be furnished with more than a sufficient number of men to keep them in order, and that the Admiralty ought to utilise the Naval Reserve more than they do. Well, the Admiralty have increased the perma- 1052 nent men something over 40,000 within the last 10 years, but they have only increased the number of Reserve men by some 7,000. The question will probably be asked, can we obtain a sufficient number of men for the purpose of increasing our Naval Reserve? I for one hold that we can. It is perfectly true that the number of British seamen in the Mercantile Marine has decreased very considerably during the last few years, especially since the introduction of steam. But still the Board of Trade Returns show that there are 65,000 men who are serving on board the British Mercantile Marine as A. B. 's. But, in addition to these 65,000 serving as A. B. 's in the Mercantile Marine, we have an enormous number of men engaged in the fishing industry. We have at the present moment the flower of the fishing population engaged in the line fishing around our coast, numbering from 80,000 to 100,000, from whom the Navy could be largely recruited in time of war. These men who are trained in our fishing craft are neither more nor less than the class of men who were formerly employed in the sailing collier fleet, and from whom the Navy was largely recruited during the Napoleonic wars. If, then, the Admiralty were to increase the number of the Naval Reserve forces by recruits from the A. B. 's in the Mercantile Marine, and from our fishermen, by offering them a sufficient inducement, I feel bound to say that they could in a very short time increase the Reserve with British seamen and fishermen to the extent of 70,000 or 80,000 men. All that the Reserve men at present get is a retaining fee of £4 per year for 2nd class Reserve, and £6 per year for the 1st class, and when they reach the age of 60 they get a permanent pension of £12 per year. One grievance of the Naval Reserve men is, that they have to serve five years longer for pension than the permanent men in the Royal Navy. I hold that this is a real grievance, and that the pension age of the Naval Reserve ought to be the same as the men in the Royal Navy. Before going further with this continuous increase of the permanent men, I think the Admiralty ought to increase the Naval Reserve by something like 70.000 men, whom you could get for something like £12 to £15 per head 1053 per annum, while the cost per man of the permanent service is something like £110 per year. But there is another source from which the Admiralty may obtain, and could if it pleased have obtained, an increase in the Reserve, and that is from the men in the Royal Navy who declined to serve a second term. A Return was made last year of the number of men who joined for a second term in the Royal Navy, and they numbered only something like 10 or 15 per cent. A Return obtained from the Admiralty in 1893 showed that there were only 870 men over 45 years of age serving on board our men-of-war, 5,000 between 35 and 45 years of age, 17,000 between 25 and 30, and the balance under 20 years of age; while there were also 9,000 boys. What I should like to ask is, what is the real percentage of the men who decline to join for a second term? I find that the number of men in receipt of pensions is 22,864, but that includes the men who have passed the period of 55 years. But how many men, I should like to ask, have the Admiralty on the pension list who have served a second time, and who are liable to serve again until they reach the age of 55? If the Admiralty can furnish this information we may be able to ascertain in some shape? or form the number of men who decline to join for a second term of service. There must be reasons why many men decline to join for a second term. I believe one reason is this—that the highest position which a bluejacket can attain to in the Navy is that of a wan-ant officer. Well, you have in the Navy two classes of men—Marines and bluejackets. These two classes of men work side by side. In the case of the Marines, a man in the ranks has the prospect of reaching the commission rank of major; but a bluejacket, working side by side and day by day with the marines, has nothing whatever to look forward to beyond the warrant rank. I was very glad to hear the noble Lord advocate an alteration in the policy of the Admiralty in regard to this matter. The men themselves have presented memorials asking that they may he so situated, so educated, that they may eventually reach the rank of officer, and so be placed in the same position as regards the commissioned ranks as men are in the Marines. It is a very serious 1054 question, and except something of this kind is done we shall have difficulty in obtaining men to join the rank and file of the Navy, and we shall have a still larger number of men who decline to rejoin after their first term of service is expired. I think those men whom we find rejoining might find proper inducements on the part of the Admiralty in the first-class Reserve. This is not a question of rank, it is a question of construction. The right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty said in his speech that the naval policy of this country was a question of Foreign Policy, but he omitted to tell us whether he meant that it was the Foreign Policy of the country or the Government, or the Foreign Policy of other Powers. The only Foreign Policy to which he alluded was his fear of Russia. But I fail to understand why the First Lord of the Admiralty should stickle at Russia, because he has told us she has spent only a small sum compared to our annual expenditure on her navy; and yet the First Lord of the Admiralty actually tells us that he is afraid of Russia. I deprecate this mode of placing the Naval Estimates before Parliament and the country. I hold that it is not only impolitic, but it is unwise on the part of the Admiralty that they should be always directing their attention antagonistically to Russia and France. Ever since I came into this House I have been in the habit of listening to the honourable Member's saying Russia was going to do this and Russia was going to do that—so much so, that you might expect to wake up any morning and find a headline in the newspapers to the effect that Russia had invaded India. But just, as the Admiralty knows, all Russia is doing, though it is not disclosed here—
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
Order, order! The honourable Gentleman is now travelling rather wide of the matter before Committee. He must confine himself to the question before the House.
§ SIR E. GOURLEY
I bow to your ruling, Sir, and come at once to the question of construction. There is one point to which I should like to call the attention of the Admiralty, and that is 1055 with regard to torpedo catchers. We are building an immense number of torpedo catchers, and those torpedo catchers, according to the information we have, are very weak in point of structure; they are far too weak, and if they encountered very heavy weather, they would collapse. Now I contend that there ought to be a new torpedo catcher altogether in place of these cockle-shells—for that is really what they are, liable to be sunk by the first shot by which they are hit. We ought to have torpedo catchers with thick armour and protected decks. I am quite sure that the policy of the Government in this matter is an erroneous one. In future warfare a considerable amount of fighting will take place on the ocean, and will not be confined to smooth water, but where you will encounter heavy weather; and from the reports that we have read, and from that experience we have had with regard to the construction of these torpedo catchers, boats of this class are far too weak for hard work or hard weather. Before I sit down, there is another important matter mentioned in this statement to which I should like to call the attention of the Admiralty. We have building operations under the Naval Defence Act, and notwithstanding the fact that we have a building programme under the Naval Defence Act, the Admiralty are asking for £700,000 or £800.000 for new works, and so forth, under Vote 8. Now, it strikes me that with the amount of money at the disposal of the Admiralty under the Naval Defence Act, there ought to be some saving with regard to the other work. For example, it is proposed to spend £20,000 this year on new works connected with the Coastguard Service. Now, on that Service you must spend annually £25,000 in order to ensure perfection. Now, as the Coastguard Service costs annually something like two millions of money, it does strike me that in connection with this Service there is no necessity for this continual annual increase of £20,000 in connection with works.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I beg the honourable Gentleman's pardon, but do I understand him to say that there is an increase of £25,000? Because that is not so. It was the same last year.
§ SIR E. GOURLEY
My contention is this, that inasmuch as it is intended to spend this money on the Coastguard Service, is it necessary? Now, I should like to ask a question as to how the value of the dockyard stocks is arrived at. These are valued in the Estimates at £2,700,000, and, on the other hand, there is put down a sum of £551,678 as being expended on articles over and above the details in the Estimate laid before Parliament, and a sum of £447,547 also for articles included in the Parliamentary Estimate. Now what I want to arrive at is, how is the value of these things arrived at? And in order to obtain a correct answer, I would ask, at what valuation do the anchors now in stock stand in the stock valuation as compared with the price they originally cost? Anchors which cost another £200,000, do they stand in the stock valuation at £200,000, or do they stand at £100,000? This is a matter which I should like to sift very carefully, and a question which I think the Secretary to the Admiralty ought to answer.
*CAPTAIN PHILLPOTTS (Devon, Torquay)
Before the honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty rises to reply, I should like to ask him one or two other questions. In the first place, I should like him to say whether the new cruisers which are to be built are to be fitted with armoured belts on the water-line, and non-inflammable decks and internal fittings. The question of submarine boats is attracting attention in foreign countries at the present time. I should like to know whether anything has been done by the Admiralty in this matter. Do they propose to make any experiments in that direction, or are they satisfied with what has been done by foreign nations? The honourable Member for Stepney criticised the Admiralty with regard to the action which they have taken with respect to the shipwrights. Now, the Admiralty propose to enter and train young men as shipwrights themselves. In my opinion, that is a very excellent plan, and for this reason: men who join the Service after they are grown up seldom take kindly to a seafaring life, and I can quite understand it. Duties that appear menial and irksome to mechanics trained in workshops on shore are performed as a matter of 1057 course by men trained afloat. They see no degradation in doing work on board a ship that their wives and mothers are doing in their own homes. Turning to the statement made by the First Lord of the Admiralty, I am glad to see that certain concessions asked for on behalf of the executive officers are about to be considered. I refer to harbour time, full pay leave, and sick leave. As regards the warrant officers, I do wish that the concession we ask for, namely, of giving them commission rank, could have been granted this year. Unfortunately, it is not so. I should also have been glad to have seen an increase of pension for chief petty officers. As regards the Naval Reserve I notice that classes are being organised for the instruction of the engineers. It seems to me that very few of them will have an opportunity of joining the classes, and I hope before long the classes will be extended. The regulations for the seaman class in the Naval Reserve appear to work very well, and I am perfectly certain that the year's or six months' training that these men get on board a man-of-war will be invaluable to them. The increase of the clothing allowance will also tend to remove a grievance and source of dissatisfaction. There is another point that I wish the Admiralty would take into consideration, which I believe would effect economy in the Service, and therefore, I think, ought not to be very much objected to by them. It is with reference to the correspondence. I should like the Admiralty to consider whether it is not possible to reduce the amount of correspondence in the Navy. I know, for a fact, that all the senior officers on board our ships spend a considerable portion of their time in signing their names. Many of the documents are quite of a formal character. Now it is quite impossible for the officers to make themselves acquainted with the contents of all the documents which are placed before them for signature, and therefore they entrust that part of the duty to their clerks and secretaries. I do not say a word against these officers— they are thoroughly reliable men, well up to their duties, and absolutely trustworthy; but I hold that 1058 no officer should put his signature to a document with the contents of which he is unacquainted. And I am quite sure that no officer can carefully look into and examine every document that he is expected to sign. I believe if the amount of correspondence was reduced a considerable economy would be effected; and it would enable these officers to devote more time to their more important duties than is possible for them under the present conditions. Various suggestions have been thrown out with regard to this matter. I heard it suggested the other day that it would be a good plan if the clerical staff of the Admiralty had to pay for all the stationery and printing; they would not see it quite in that light, but there certainly does appear to be room for economy in that direction. Another suggestion that has been made with regard to this matter is that at all the important stations, such as Portsmouth and Plymouth, an officer should be appointed as chief of the staff—either a junior flag officer or a captain—who should take over some portion of this work. I would remind the House that there was one admiral in command at these ports when the Fleet was only half its present size, and there is only one admiral now. I think something might be done in this direction, and I certainly do hope that the honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty will be able to say something on these points when he rises to reply.
§ *MR. J. ELLIS (Notts, Rushcliffe)
The honourable Gentleman who has just sat down has dealt with this matter from precisely the point of view with which he was so able to deal with it—that is to say, the technical point of view. The view I take is rather different. I do not speak upon that subject as having any technical knowledge of naval establishments, nor am I a Member for a dockyard constituency. I speak solely on behalf of my own constituents, who are interested when they find such an alarming and appalling— I use the word which was used by the honourable Member for Dundee, who spoke earlier in the evening—increase in the demands upon public money. I desire to associate myself entirely with the remarks of the honourable Gentle- 1059 man the Member for Dundee as to the extreme regret which this House feels at the absence of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and I still further regret the reason which is the cause of it. The right honourable Gentleman, when he made his statement, made use of the expression—The Navy Estimates hare never, perhaps, been introduced in more singular circumstances in some respects than to-day.That is so, and he gave a reason for that circumstance; but there were other circumstances to which attention has been called which are also very remarkable. The main facts of the Navy Estimates were communicated to one of our newspapers, by what the First Lord of the Admiralty characterised as a gross breach of trust; but they were withheld from this House till the last moment for reasons given by the First Lord. Not only were they withheld for the reasons which were given to us, but they were withheld in absolute violation of one of the Resolutions of this House —a Resolution of very ancient date. I am not going to dwell upon the breach of trust to which the First Lord of the Admiralty alluded in reply to the question I put to him on the subject, because, as I understand, he wishes the matter to stand over until his return. I accept, of course, fully the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty and his expression of regret that he has pursued the course this year that is being pursued, and note his intimation that the course pursued in 1896 would not have been pursued if any objection had been raised. I take it for granted that as objection is now being raised in the very strongest manner possible that we shall have no more withholding of the Estimates till the last moment. I say that no Minister coming down to this House and asking for money out of the public taxation has any right to judge in his own person whether he shall reserve or not from the representatives of the taxpayer, or whether he shall give, the data for that taxation or not. The Resolution to which I have alluded runs as follows: —That this House considers it essentially useful to the exact performance of its duties as guardians of the public purse that such Estimates should be presented within 10 days after? the opening of the Committee of Supply.1060 And the day in my opinion is coming when that guardianship will be much needed. The Estimates have not been presented within 10 days after the opening of the Committee of Supply for the last year or two. Now, passing from what some may consider a mere matter of procedure, though I am quite sure that the Committee will appreciate the fact that our forms of procedure with regard to the imposing of taxation and the appropriation of public funds are so drawn as to be of the utmost importance, and that they shall be carried out to the utmost letter, I wish to dwell for a moment on the position of extreme gravity in which we find ourselves with regard to the position of the public purse. We have a demand made upon us this year for £28,000,000 sterling for naval works and Estimates. Now, I always think that in these matters of finance it is useless to pick out any particular year, because in that particular year there may be something that vitiates the comparison with another; but when you take a series of years from which to draw your comparison you are on very much safer and sounder ground. Now, I have taken the trouble to work out a few figures, which I think will be found to be of some little value in this respect. During the six years ending March 1887 the annual average expenditure for Navy Estimates was £11,300,000 sterling. For the six years ending March 1893 the average annual expenditure was £13,600,000 sterling, showing an increase of £2,300,000. Members of Parliament who sat during those periods will appreciate the reason that I have for taking those years, because during those years both political parties were responsible for this expenditure. Now, during the three years ending March 1896 the average annual expenditure for Naval Estimates was £17,100,000, showing an increase of £3,500,000, and during the three years ending March 1899 the annual average has risen to £22,300,000, showing an increase of £5,200,000, and this year, as we all know, we have Navy Estimates to the tune of £26,600,000, which is an increase of the three previous years' average of £4,300,000. Therefore, as we stand now our Estimates for Naval purposes exceed by £15,300,000 the amount of the average sum spent 1061 during the six years ending 1887. That is in 13 years. Well, the figure stands large enough in itself in all conscience; but what alarms me is, not so much the figure, but the rate of increase that is shown. That is the point which we have to fix in our minds. The rate of increase is such that, as everyone knows, this kind of thing cannot go on. Now, I have only spoken up to the present of the Navy, but when we come to the question of armaments we find that we are spending in three financial years ending March 1899 more than 10s. out of every £1 of our national expenditure on armaments, as against something like 8s. out of every £1 for the six years ending 1887. I think that surely is rather a striking commentary upon what we are pleased to call the civilisation at the end of the 19th century. It is impossible that it can go on, and if anyone doubts this he has only to live a few years longer to realise that he has been very much mistaken. New taxes will most assuredly be needful to meet the increased expenditure. In this matter of the Navy men, ships, and guns hang together. If you wish to increase your Navy you must increase your men, you must increase your guns, and so on through the whole gamut of naval requirements and paraphernalia. I noticed that there was one continuous thread of apology running through the speech of the First Lord, and it came to this—"We are doing this because other Powers are doing it; otherwise we should not do it at all." I must say I thought there was a certain sense of hesitation perceptible in the utterance of the First Lord when he said—I do not wish to make any comparison with foreign ships, but I may say we have selected" these ships after a careful review of the new designs of other Powers, and we hope that these designs will secure to us that we shall have stronger ships than any which are now building by any country.Surely that is a comparison of other nations and of other ships, and I cannot help thinking that it has in it a certain provocative element which was unwise. Wo ail know our strength, we all know our capacity, we all know our enormous financial means. But is it worth while 1062 for the First Lord to rise at that Table, and, in the face of Europe, to flaunt these things so publicly? The words "I do not wish to make any comparison" seem to suggest an apology, but I do not see why that which gave rise to such an apology should be necessary, having regard to the fact that the First Lord devoted much time in the earlier part of his speech to proving how entirely satisfactory our naval condition was in what he called the "precarious" state of foreign affairs last autumn. He went on to say that we were able to put the whole of the gigantic machinery of the Navy in motion at a cost of £13,000. That being so, the natural corollary and inference seems to be that you are in a position to pause and to leave well alone. Turning for a moment to what I might call the other-Power argument, I wish to pay my humble tribute of thanks to my right honourable Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir U. Kay-Shuttle-worth) for the admirable speech he made the other night. I only wish he had had a better audience to listen to it, because that most luminous speech contained some extremely valuable and interesting information. He demonstrated to my mind most conclusively two facts, which have not been contradicted by any succeeding speaker, namely, that in naval construction the French are tardy while the English are expeditious. But he showed also a more important fact still, namely, that for very good reasons the French have definitely abandoned the naval race: with England, while within a comparatively few days it has been announced that it is not expedient any longer on the part of France to continue the military race with Germany. But this is by no means all. We all know of the step which I venture to say will be chronicled as one of the most remarkable steps in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century, namely, the issue of the Rescript by the Tsar. I think there must have been a certain amount of misgiving in the minds of the Cabinet when they instructed the First Lord to put forward his remarkable offer. As I understand these Estimates, a certain amount will, in certain eventualities, be cut off. Well, I really doubt the wisdom of such a proposal. I much regret that the Cabinet, in the presence of this remarkable offer 1063 of the Tsar of all the Russias, did not say—"We have gladly signified our willingness to take part in those deliberations, and we will pause. We have plenty of time to overtake France or any other nation, and we will suspend our operations." I believe that the Government would have been supported by all that is best and noblest in the country on both sides of polities. I am sure there are many Members opposite who sympathise with the Tsar's proposal. I do not for one moment desire to make this a Party matter, but I think the Cabinet might have adopted a much bolder attitude. But, after all, it is not what other nations of Europe are doing or are likely to do; it is our own general policy which must inspire the magnitude or otherwise of our naval expenditure. Now, I am going to read to the Committee a few words on the subject—For the last 20 years, still more for the last 12, you have been laying your hands with almost frantic eagerness on every tract of territory adjacent to your own, or desirable from any point of view, you thought it desirable to take. That has had two results. The first result is this, that you have excited to an almost intolerable degree the envy of other colonising nations, and that in the case of many countries, or several countries rather, that were friendly to you you can reckon in consequence of your colonial policy not on their active benevolence, but on their active malevolence.These are the words of Lord Rosebery, who was particeps criminis, if I may use such an expression with regard to so distinguished a man, in the creation of this particular policy. I agree with Lord Rosebery that we cannot bo grabbing territory, forming protectorates, and acquiring spheres of influence without it having an effect upon naval expenditure and armaments generally, and we are reaping the result at this moment of the policy we have hitherto been pursuing. You have been laying upon the Foreign and Colonial Offices and other great Departments duties which they were never created for, and that they cannot properly perform. Sometimes you try to perform them through chartered companies, always with the disastrous result of being made responsible for something that you ought not to be, and sometimes pursuing a will-o'-the wisp of trade, with the undoubted result that you add intolerably to the burdens of the people, and, above all, distract 1064 the attention of Parliament from those great questions of social amelioration which really lie at the root of the happiness and welfare of the people. "I am all for concentration." to use the words of Mr. Disraeli, which in this connection have singular application. The minds of the people and the attention of Parliament should be given to great measures of social amelioration. There are, it has been said, two schools—With the one Party England's duty is held to be the care of her own children within her own shores, redress of wrongs, the supply of needs, the improvement of laws and of institutions. Against this home-spun doctrine the other Party sets up territorial aggrandisement, large establishments, and accumulation of a multitude of fictitious interests abroad.The great man who uttered these words left us now nearly a year ago, but there are many of us still faithful to the lessons he taught us, and I venture to say that this territorial aggrandisement, with the consequent enormous increase of naval armaments, is on all hands to be deplored.
§ *THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. MACARTNEY, Antrim, S.)
I am not quite certain whether the speech to which the Committee has just listened expresses more than a note of regret at the size of the Estimates which have been laid before Parliament, or whether the feeling underlying the honourable Gentleman's remarks was that the increased Estimates are un-necessary. If the speech is based on the first motive I, for one, and I think the Government, cordially agree with that sentiment—that it is a matter of regret that circumstances have compelled those who are responsible for the administration of the Admiralty to present Estimates of this kind to the country. If, on the other hand, his objection to the Estimates is that they are unnecessary, then I join issue with him. If that is the motive which underlies his observations to the House, I think that he ought, at all events, to support them by challenging the verdict of the Committee. Sir, it is not any question of foreign policy or of Colonial expansion which has dictated the figures which are now laid before Parliament. They are based upon a policy of Admiralty administration which has been accepted by previous administrations. Parliament has 1065 over and over again, and the country also, I take it, have acquiesced in the principle of the Admiralty administration that the naval forces of this country should be at least equivalent to those of two first-class leading Naval Powers. Sir, it has been that principle alone upon which these Estimates have been framed, and not with regard to any accidental circumstances of foreign or colonial policy. Now, the honourable Gentleman alluded to the Estimates of 1887. I have no desire on this occasion to revive any question of Party disputes or Party politics with regard to the administration of the Navy, and I can only say this, that if the cost of maintaining the naval forces of this country have increased, as they have since 1887 under all Administrations, it has, in my opinion, been the result, of the inattention of Parliament and of both Parties to the requisite requirements of the Service previous to 1887. Sir, if there is one thing which I think is gratifying to anyone who has anything to do with the administration of the Navy, it is that in recent years the administration of that great Department of the State has been almost entirely removed from Party con-diet. Certainly I do not desire tonight to say one word which in the slightest degree should arouse amongst certain Members of the Committee any feeling either on this side of the House or on the other that whatever differences of opinion may divide us it is a question of Party politics. I suppose no Member of this Committee regrets more than do those who are responsible for the administration of the Admiralty that the unavoidable necessities of the times and period have obliged us to present these figures which stand in the Estimates for this year. Now, Sir, the honourable Member for Dundee earlier in the evening drew attention to a statement with regard to the policy of these Estimates which has been made by the First Lord of the Admiralty, and he placed an interpretation on the statement of the right honourable Gentleman which produced a conflict of opinion and of meaning in his speech, and also in the words which he quoted from "The Times" of a speech of my own later on. Sir, the honourable Member was not in the House on the occasion when I spoke, and I think he had not the opportunity of listening to the remarks 1066 which were made by my honourable and gallant friend the Member for Yarmouth (Sir John Colomb), to whom I specially replied. My honourable and gallant Friend said the First Lord of the Admiralty had stated that if the Conference that had been summoned under the auspices of the Tsar did not agree, the programme must stand, and the honourable Member placed upon it a further interpretation that the naval expenditure of this country was placed in the hands of the European Conference. Against that he said he protested with all is might. It was in regard to that special interpretation of my honourable and gallant Friend's proposition, which he based upon the First Lord's statement, that I protested. I have not the slightest intention of in any way diminishing the statement of the First Lord, namely, that if the Peace Conference does carry out the object which we all believe his Majesty the Tsar sincerely has at heart, an opportunity will probably be afforded to all European Naval Powers of in important elements diminishing their programmes of naval construction. But I pointed out to the Committee on that occasion that the Navy of this country has many responsibilities and many duties to perform which do not naturally fall within the purview of the duties of any other country in Europe, and, therefore, it was an extraordinary deduction to make from my right honourable Friend's statement that we were prepared to assent to the naval expenditure of the country being placed within the control of a European Conference. Within these limits, going neither beyond them nor less than them, is the natural meaning of my words. I hope I have made myself clear to the honourable Gentleman. Sir, the honourable Member then called attention to the fact, which I do not for a moment dispute, that the Estimates that are presented to the House this year are in reality Estimates which contain an additional programme for the current year; and he complained, as he did last year I think, of the course we followed with reference to providing the finance without obtaining the assent of the House in the usual manner. He asked me if I could point out any precedent for the fact that we had proceeded to give certain orders in relation to this additional programme without obtaining the consent of the House 1067 in the ordinary manner. Sir, I at once admit that I am not aware of any precedent. I do not think for a moment the First Lord of the Admiralty, when he introduced the additional programme in July last, said that there was a precedent, but at the same time he certainly in no way whatever misled the Committee as to what his intention was. He said—I have consulted the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he agrees with me, looking to the uncertainty of the amount which may be earned, and also to the fact that in the large shipbuilding programme that we have in hand outside this new programme there must always be an uncertainty whether the contractors, either for materials or for ships, will be able to earn the whole amount provided in the Estimate, it will be best to introduce the necessary Supplementary Estimate early next Session rather than now, when it would be no guide to the House as to the amount which it will be actually necessary to spend. We consider that this is a business-like proceeding, and I hope the House will approve of it.It is perfectly true that on that occasion complaints were made to the Committee, not only by the honourable Gentleman opposite, but by the right honourable Gentleman who was then the Leader of the Opposition; but the Committee, as a matter of fact, brushed them aside. There were, no doubt, questions and objections on a point of order, but I think, without the slightest offence to the honourable Gentleman, I may say that neither Parliament nor the country were in a humour then to pay any great attention to points of pedantry. Well, now, the honourable Gentleman asked me why we had not produced a Supplementary Estimate. My right honourable Friend said on that occasion that he carried away with him, or would carry away with him, in that Debate the conviction that the House of Commons had practically authorised him to give orders as he saw fit for the additional programme. But the question remains about the Supplementary Estimate. I admit that if in the current year our contractors had earned the whole amount on the shipbuilding programme which we had expected them to earn, it would probably be necessary to introduce a Supplementary Estimate, but, as a matter of fact, the earnings of the contractors fell far short of what had been anticipated, and there has been no necessity. There has been practically no money earned within this financial year upon 1068 the Supplementary Programme introduced in July, though orders had been given; therefore, I submit to the Committee that there has been no serious infringement of the rights of honourable Gentlemen as representing the taxpayers of this country, and that, interesting as the objections of the honourable Gentleman may be on a point of Parliamentary procedure, they really are not of such a weighty character as to justify any member of this Committee feeling that he has been deprived of any very material portion of his rights and privileges. Sir, the honourable Gentleman has spoken of the "appalling" aggregate of the Naval Vote, and he has been followed this evening in a speech by the honourable Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. John Ellis), who has also used the adjective. For myself I should say that though the Vote is very large it is absolutely necessary. The honourable Gentleman also said that it would be necessary, if the Estimates are accepted, for the Admiralty to take the Committee into its fullest confidence. Well, Sir, I do not know whether the honourable Gentleman wishes to press for every detail of the knowledge that the Admiralty possesses. I do not think myself that it is desirable that everything that is within the knowledge of the Admiralty should be divulged to the Committee at the present moment, having regard especially to this very Conference upon which so much stress has been laid by honourable Gentlemen opposite. The honourable Gentleman, however, may be prepared to take this general statement from me, that we have, neither in regard to the battleships of 1899–1900 nor in regard to the cruisers, drawn that programme up without as full a knowledge as we could obtain of the intentions of other Powers, but, of course, as my honourable Friend says, there, again, we come to the point whether the action of other Powers, consequent upon what may occur at this Conference, will be seriously modified. But the principle which underlies this programme is that which has been consistently acted upon by Admiralty administrators for many years past, and it is that we believe the country expects the Admiralty to maintain our Navy on an equality with those of the two leading Naval Powers in Europe. Then the honourable Gentleman asked me to assent to a second condition, and one 1069 which is much easier for me to assent to. I think the honourable Gentleman's experience of the Admiralty must have convinced him that there is nobody more likely to give an ungrudging assent to that proposition than one in the position which he himself occupied.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I have omitted what I really intended to say, which was that the Admiralty ought to make some attempt to induce the Colonial Governments to make a suitable contribution to the Navy, the increase of which is as much a benefit to them as it is to us.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
I think that on the whole the most desirable way to arrive at the conclusion which the honourable Member desires is to leave it to the action of those Colonial Governments themselves. Already we have had one admirable example set by the Government of Cape Colony, which, I hope, will be followed in the near future by other Colonial Governments. My honourable Friend the Member for Gateshead alluded once again to the familiar subject of water-tube boilers, and I am sure the honourable Gentleman will forgive me if I decline on this occasion to fight over again the battle which has been fought so often on the floor of this House. It is perfectly true that a lamentable accident has occurred on board the "Terrible," but that accident would certainly not justify the Admiralty in retracing their action in regard to the construction of water-tube boilers. If the Admiralty, on account of one single accident of this character, were to throw overboard the policy of water-tube boiler construction, then, indeed, the honourable Gentleman, or anybody else, might charge the Admiralty with having arrived at their decision in regard to those boilers upon insufficient grounds.
§ *MR. ALLAN
Why is it that all your trial trips are failures? What about the "Perseus," "Pactolus," "Pylades." "Argonaut," and others?
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
I do not know what better knowledge my honourable Friend has, but this is the first accident, so far as I am aware, which has occurred with the water-tube boilers. Vessels, however, fitted with these boilers have developed several defects connected with 1070 their engines, and my honourable Friend alleged this defect in reference to the "Blenheim" and other vessels, but the "Blenheim" has cylindrical boilers.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
When the honourable Member talks about the "Terrible" being a dismal failure, let me ask the Committee to remember that the "Terrible" has done what no other warship in the world has ever done—she has run for 60 hours at a continuous speed of 20 knots.
§ *MR. ALLAN
It is nothing to say that she went 20 knots for such a short time, when she was designed to steam 22½ knots.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
There are several other ships in Her Majesty's Service fitted with water-tube boilers, about which we have heard little or no complaints. It is perfectly true that the "Niobe" had some defects connected with her machinery, but I have just been informed that she has run successfully a 60 hours' trial, and she is now going to join the Channel Squadron. I think it would be hopeless for me to attempt to convert my honourable Friend to water-tube boilers, for he is their very determined foe, and I am sure that no facts which I could put forward would convince him. My honourable Friend has spoken of the case of the "Asama," which is one of a group of five or six Japanese cruisers fitted with cylindrical boilers, and he has instanced this as an example of the rejection of water-tube boilers. I take it, therefore, that my honourable Friend has the highest opinion of the Japanese naval advisers, because, contrary to our advisers, they have put in cylindrical boilers.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
The "Asama" is one of a group of six Japanese cruisers in which cylindrical boilers were to be put, and in the first three these boilers were fitted: but in the last three of the same group they have substituted water-tube boilers, and, therefore, if our advisers are wrong the Japanese advisers are wrong as well. Go where you will, every single Power is now substituting water-tube boilers for cylindrical. The honourable Gentleman also criticised the Admiralty Estimates, and said that he could not find any account in detail of the repairs. I must, however, remind the Committee that these Estimates are the Estimates for the coming year, and if my honourable Friend referred to a certain portion of those Estimates, he would find a detailed statement of every ship which is estimated to come in for repairs during the year, but we cannot state beforehand what the amount will be. When a ship comes in, the repairs which are necessary are reported; they are then inspected by the dockyard and ether officials, and the amount which is considered proper is then allowed for those repairs. Of course, my honourable Friend will find a year or two hence in the Expense Accounts of the Navy the exact amount of money spent upon every ship repaired in 1899.
§ *MR. ALLAN
I am sorry to interrupt the right honourable Gentleman, but I am aware of the existence of this Suspense. Account. My complaint is this, that your Estimate is the expenditure of last year, and I think these ought to be bound together so that Members of this House could compare them.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
But they have no relation the one with the other, and binding them up would be only placing a heavier burden on my honourable Friend than he bears already. The honourable Member for Devonport has referred to the position of the naval shipwrights, and this question has also been alluded to by the honourable Member for Stepney. I do not wish to detain the House upon this matter, but I may say that we have no intention whatever—and this had better be understood at once—of altering the conditions under which naval shipwrights enter the Service. The Admiralty do not look upon these men, as the honour- 1072 able Member for Stepney does, as the highest class of mechanic on board ship. Their qualifications are inferior to others, and it is quite immaterial whether the ship goes to sea either with or without them. If we can get them on certain conditions we are glad to have them, but we have no intention what ever of altering their conditions of service. The honourable Gentleman the Member for Devonport put a question to me with regard to the chief petty officers, which is a subject in which many honourable Members take an interest. Last year, in July, towards the end of the Session, in reply to a Question, I expressed the hope that we should be able to lay before Parliament on this occasion a scheme for meeting some of the grievances complained of at that time, but there were two conditions with which I surrounded that offer. One of those conditions was that no addition should be made to the non-effective Vote of the Service, which is already very large, and which is growing every year, and which, in all probability, in future years, will be larger still. The other condition was that some advantage should accrue to the Service. Now, when my scheme came to be examined, it was found that while it did meet the particular demand for an increase of pensions for the chief petty officers on their own conditions; yet, in order to meet the two conditions I laid down, we had to impose other conditions in connection with our Service on board ship which would make it unpalatable, and would certainly have had a slight effect in retarding promotion. Therefore, I had to give way to the balance of opinion against me at the Admiralty: and, therefore, we are not able to present any scheme such as we hoped at one time to have been able to present in relation to this particular question. Then there is also the question of the Reserves, which was raised by the honourable Member for Devonport. It appears to me, however, that the scheme which the honourable Member laid before the Committee is essentially one for the Board of Trade. It is perfectly true that the Admiralty and interested indirectly in the condition of the Mercantile Marine. As far as I understand the honourable Gentleman, as proposal is one which certainly ought to be considered by those directly interested in the 1073 Mercantile Marine, and when it has been thoroughly discussed and formulated, then it would be a scheme which might be presented for the consideration of the Admiralty; and all I can say is, that when the scheme is presented, and has been fully considered by those interested in the Mercantile Marine, and when it Has also been considered by the Board of Trade, the Admiralty are quite ready to consider any proposal that may be made to it in relation to any assistance which it can give. My honourable Friend the Member for Birkenhead asked me a question about the supply of armour, and I can quite understand the great interest which my honourable Friend takes in this matter. I do not think that I could amplify very largely what I said the other day in reply to the right honourable Baronet. It is true that the supply of armour has disappointed the expectations of the Admiralty this year, but we have good reason to believe that early in the financial year the supply of armour plate will be considerably in excess of the amount which has been supplied in the previous year, and that there will not be that delay in private yards which has been alluded to.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
I think, if the honourable Member will carry his memory hack to the discussion which took place last year, he will recollect that the Admiralty were told that we were under-estimating the quantity that would be produced, but the view of the Admiralty has now turned out to be more correct.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
I think the manufacturers gave assurances that they would supply the Admiralty with a larger amount of armour?
That is so, for there is no penalty clause. My honourable Friend asked me a question with regard to the proportion of foreign orders giver by the Admiralty. I am hardly in a position to speak at the present moment of the proportion, but I know that it is not very large, and it 1074 does not in any way interfere materially with the supply to our Service, and it cannot be looked upon in any way as an element which would materially diminish the supply expected by the Admiralty. Then my honourable Friend the Member for West Belfast brought up a question which has excited a considerable amount of local interest, when he advocated the claims of Belfast to a training-ship, and he was supported in this by my honourable Friend the Member for South Belfast. The Member for West Belfast had stated that neither he nor anyone else had received from the Admiralty any reason for refusing this training-ship at Belfast. Now, when my honourable Friend complains of a refusal having been given without any reasons, he can hardly be cognisant of what has passed between the Admiralty and certain public bodies in Belfast on this question. The Admiralty has laid down a rule that it is inexpedient to place training-ships for boys in the neighbourhood of large towns, and there is not in the whole of the United Kingdom any training-ship so placed. The general reasons on which that principle is laid down must commend themselves to every Member of the Committee. But besides this, Belfast Lough is not a suitable place, for no training-ship could possibly remain there during the season, because it is such an exposed place, and the boys for a considerable portion of the year would not be able to land. If the training-ship were moored at the head of the Lough, there would have to be a special dredging in the mud, and all our authorities agree that to have a training-ship at that point would be most undesirable from the 'point of view of health. No one is more anxious than I am to have a question of this sort decided in favour of Belfast, but, looking at it from a purely practical standpoint, I am constrained to say that there are no reasons why the decision which has been arrived at by the Admiralty should be reversed. My honourable Friend the Member for South Belfast has asked me why the great firms of the city of Belfast have had no share in the orders for shipbuilding from the Admiralty. I may say, in reply to that question, that it is entirely the fault, if fault there be, of the shipbuilding firms in Belfast. Year after year we asked for tenders from Messrs. Harland and Wolff, and year 1075 after year they declined to tender. They have a high reputation, and possibly for the reason that they have the cream of the mercantile shipbuilding they find this more profitable than Admiralty contracts. The honourable Member for Torquay has asked me a question about our new protected cruisers, and he has asked me to state whether they will have any side armour. They will have, I understand, about 11ft, of side armour. The honourable Member has also asked me a question with regard to submarine boats, and I may say, in reply, that nothing has occurred, as far as we know, in recent years to alter the views of the Admiralty as to the desirability of building these boats. There are one or two other questions which have been asked me, but I think they will come better on another Vote, and I think I have now attempted to answer all the questions raised during the discussion.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
With reference to the warrant officers, I may dispose of that by saying that the Government do not propose to make any alteration in the position of warrant officers at present. With regard to other questions of detail, there will be an opportunity upon the Dockyards Vote of raising the special questions in which honourable Gentlemen are interested, and I have refrained specially from alluding to one or two questions which bore distinctly upon the question of the dockyards. I must apologise to the Committee for having detained them so long.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
I must express my regret that after the extremely favourable statement made last year with regard to the pensions, that we have not had a more sympathetic statement from that question. He has referred to the the honourable Gentleman in relation to chief petty officers, and what he has said I presume also has reference to warrant officers. With regard to the position of the engine-room artificers, I think it is about two years since the Government made a concession to these men, which was received with great satisfaction by them, on the demand that they made for an opportunity of rising to a higher position than that which they occupied as engine-room artificers. The Govern- 1076 ment then fulfilled their promise, and in the regulations for the examination it is stipulated that each candidate must be 35 years of age, and must have had at least 10 years' confirmed service. Now, the question I want to put is this: I presume that it is the object and desire of the Government to attract men into the Service as soon as they reach the years of maturity, and even before that if they possibly can. I think the honourable Gentleman will see that it is quite possible, under those regulations, for a man to have 13 years' confirmed service in the service of the Navy, assuming that he enters the Navy when he is 21 years of age, without being permitted to sit for his examination in order to take up the position of a warrant officer; and, on the other hand, a man who keeps out of the Service until he is 23 or 24 years of age may have his confirmed period of service, and be eligible to sit for examination for that position, whereas the other man who has gone into the Service very much earlier, and has more years of confirmed service than the other, is not eligible to acquire that promotion. What I want to know is, whether some alteration cannot be made so as to permit a man who has the confirmed period of service of 10 years, when he has reached the period of qualification, that he should have some opportunity of becoming a candidate for the post of a warrant officer? I think that is a very reasonable request, and I hope the honourable Gentleman will see his way to grant it.
§ MR. MACLEAN (Cardiff)
I have the deepest respect for the honourable Gentleman the Secretary' to the Admiralty and the honourable Member for Gateshead, but I sometimes wish that they would carry on their quarrel about water-tube boilers outside the precincts of this House. I think if they went to sea, and tried conclusions somewhere beyond the Nore, the House would be free from these interminable controversies, and would be able to devote itself to questions of general policy, which are now almost lost in a perfect wilderness of detail. I do not think anyone can accuse this House of being indifferent to the wants of the Navy. Whenever a responsible Minister comes down to this House and says that more money is wanted to maintain the Navy 1077 in a more perfect state of efficiency in order to defend the interests of this country, and in case of any emergency that may arise, this House always gives them that money with a generous and even with a lavish hand. I think anyone who has been a member of the Board of Admiralty will acknowledge that this is the case, but sometimes, I confess, some misgivings arise in my mind as to whether we are not carrying this policy too far. I am sure that we all deeply regret the absence of the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty this evening, for I wish that he could have given us more substantial reasons than have yet been placed before the Committee to justify the very great increase in the expenditure and in the armaments of this country which the Government are now meditating. There was a very significant passage in the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty when he introduced these Estimates, for he said that it was a remarkable fact that the Russians were spending very little money indeed upon the manning of the Navy, and he could not account for the Estimate being so small. The reason, however, is perfectly plain, for it is simply because the Russians are not spending large sums of money upon the manning of their Navy.
§ MR. MACLEAN
All this question of the increase of our armaments and the expenditure upon the Navy is one of degree. We have been going on gaily with full flowing sails for a great many years without having taken in a reef, and now we are face to face with the necessity of finding money for the expenditure which is going on. You may depend upon it that the country, though willing to do everything in its power to maintain such a Navy as we require, will demand from this House of Commons a strict account of any money that it has paid for the service of the country. Is it not the case that our Navy is at the present moment overwhelmingly and irresistibly strong? Since I was last in this House I have travelled over a great part of the world, and I have watched this matter, and wherever I went I conferred with everybody I met, and they laughed at the very idea that there is any real competition between foreign 1078 navies and our own. We are so strong that at the present time all the navies of the world put together dare not assail us at any point on the surface of the globe. That is no doubt due to the excellent and intelligent policy which has been pursued for a great many years in this country, and we are now in a position which we never before held, to survey what we have done, and to ask whether it is really necessary for us to do any more. The fact is, that a great many of the foreign navies exist only for the most part on paper; that is to say, they have very few ships fit to compete in actual warfare with an enemy's ships. We are not in such a position; and I ask whether we are required to spend more money on our Navy? My honourable Friend the Under Secretary to the Admiralty says that the Estimates are absolutely necessary, but I should like to ask the First Lord if he will prove to us that these Estimates are necessary. If he can, then I would be the first to say, "Let us vote them with all our hearts." I say that while we should never neglect the improvement of the quality of the Navy, the quantity at the present moment is quite equal to all the requirements that can possibly be put upon it.
§ MR. MACLEAN
I knew that my honourable and gallant Friend would dissent. We all know that our honourable and gallant Friend will not be happy until every British householder is able to go to sea in his own ironclad. I think that is unreasonable. He takes as his motto that "there is nothing like leather," and he would like to see every penny subscribed by the unhappy taxpayers of this country devoted to increasing the strength of the Navy. I do not blame him for that. That is his métier. He is for his own trade—that fighting trade which is always most anxious for war and armaments. But there are other trades besides the trade devoted to the production of armaments. The people of the country are beginning to ask themselves, why should this excessive expenditure go on from year to year. I believe the Government themselves have taken this feeling into consideration. There was a most remarkable passage in the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty when introducing the Estimates. He spoke of the Conference called by the Tear of Russia, 1079 and which is soon going to assemble; and he made this extraordinary declaration. He said—We shall go there and say to the assembled representatives of the various States of the world, ' Well, if you reduce your armaments, we will reduce our programme.'Was ever a more fatuous proposal made to a Conference than that? For, of course, the representatives of the other Powers would say, "Tell us what reductions you are going to make, and we will see what reductions we can make." And the whole Conference would end in nothing. And what is the use of reductions of that kind? You cannot see what the other nations are doing. Armaments may be reduced to-day, and increased again to-morrow without your knowing anything about it. It is not by observations of that sort that we can advance the great project of general peace throughout the world. Instead of accepting the invitation of the Tsar in a spirit of benevolent cynicism, we should go to the Conference in a serious spirit—prepared to discuss the matter in a formal and proper way, and in a spirit due to the noble aspirations of the Emperor who has given this proposal to the world. I am not in the confidence of the Government. I do not know what they propose; but I rejoice to see that their spirit is pacific, and that they are calmer than the irresponsible newspapers in the West End of London. I rejoice that the Government is directed by men who are sagacious and far-seeing, and have kept their heads cool during the last two or three years. The Government are anxious, as I understand it, to meet the Emperor of Russia in a fair spirit, and to try and see if they cannot do something for the general good of the world. What are they to do, it may be asked? Well, they ought not to go into that Conference with hypothetical propositions, or to haggle over the cutting down of a line of battleship or two, on one side or the other. You must remove the permanent causes of ill-feeling amongst the nations of the world, and then you can hope for the permanent peace and retrenchment which we all desire. I say if the Government, instead of bringing forward these new Estimates, which I do not think they themselves in their hearts believe are really wanted, had gone into the Conference with definite and concrete 1080 proposals—if they had said to the Tsar—"We are here with a programme which we pledge ourselves to accept if you do so" —if they were to raise the great questions of general policy throughout the world which divide Russia from us, and divide France from us—if they were to try to come to a general agreement on these topics, and to submit a definite and positive programme to the Conference—then I say the statesmen at the head of the Government would have done a thing which would redound to the glory of England, and be a benefit not only to this country but to all the nations of the earth.
§ *MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
I wish to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if he will give the boys of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland a chance of entering the Navy by sending a training ship to the West Highlands. Three years ago I assured the First Lord of the Admiralty that he could get plenty of boys if he did so. There would be no difficulty in the matter. The First Lord in his statement referred to the fact that very few of the boys secured in other parts of the country could swim. In the Island of Lewis alone there is a population of 30,000 people. Hardy industrious men, who are accustomed to the sea and are inured to it; and every one of the boys can swim like a duck. The Admiralty would get plenty of boys in the West Highlands who would gladly join the Navy, and who would make splendid seamen. If I could get the attention of the honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty for a minute, I wish to refer to a remark which he made—that it was the policy of the Admiralty to send no training-ships to the neighbourhood of large towns. Here is a chance. Send these training-ships up to the West Highlands, where you will get plenty of boys far removed from the evil surroundings of large towns. But he has made a mistake in saying there are no training-ships in the neighbourhood of large towns. There is the "Mars" at Dundee, which is a large town; and there is the "Wellesley" in the Tyne, which is in the immediate neighbourhood of many large towns. I do hope I shall get a satisfactory reply from the honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Admi- 1081 ralty, and that he will take some steps to send a training-ship to the West Highlands—if not to Stornoway, then to the West Coast of the Mainland, Portree or Oban.
§ SIR J. BAKER (Portsmouth)
The honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty has done an amount of mischief by the observations he has made to-night, the effects of which will be felt many a month hence. These observations relate to the chief and warrant officers. This is a very serious question, for, next to the commanders, these men are the most important to the whole of our Fleet. And to have dealt with them in the spirit in which the Secretary to the Admiralty has dealt with that class is full of disaster. Then there is the manner in which he also treated the grievances of the petty officers. That was equally disastrous in the interests of the Navy. The remarks which the honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty also made in regard to the duties of shipwrights on board ship was a most unqualified mistake—the most fatal mistake ever made in the House of Commons, and one which he will hear more about, and which will be remembered. If the Committee go to a Division, I shall be obliged to vote against the Government, owing to the reply of the Secretary to the Admiralty.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I regret I am altogether unable to agree with the vigorous speech of the honourable Member for Cardiff; at any rate with the reasons which he gave for saying that the Navy Estimates are too large. I do not think that any honourable Member in this House would be prepared to diminish by one ship, or one man, Her Majesty's Navy, because a Northern despot of amiable intentions has called together a Conference for disarmament, while he himself is arming to the teeth, and while he is increasing his forces from Europe to Asia, from Finland to Port Arthur. I have already suggested that, in my opinion, there must be some ground for the belief that these Estimates are—I will not say excessive, but very, very large. Sir, I listened, and I am sure many honourable Members in this House listened, with care to the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. He will be satisfied apparently with nothing. His 1082 appetite is gigantean. He swallows and digests ironclads, guns and sailors, and everything connected with the Navy with the greatest ease and readiness. I cannot compete with that extraordinary appetite. I notice that even a very large number of the Members on his own side of the House entirely agree with him; some of them, in fact, are trying to go beyond him, and saying that these Navy Estimates are not sufficient. I only hope that these honourable Members, when they come to the Committee of Ways and Means, will not have any objection to the new taxes which undoubtedly will be imposed in consequence partly of the Naval Estimates. I hope they will remember, when they come to the discussion of the Budget, they are pledged to the opinion that these Estimates are not large enough. I hope that will not be forgotten. Well, there is unquestionably at present a feeling of uneasiness throughout the world, from Europe to China, and through the whole Pacific. One of the strongest symptoms that there is danger in the future is the symptom which moved the honourable Member for Cardiff to argue in favour of reduction of the Navy—that symptom that the Navy Estimates are too excessive. What they indicate beyond the fact that there is a large increase over last year's Estimates we cannot tell; but we do know that Her Majesty's Government, having considered the matter with a desire to present the Estimates as small as possible, and having, of course, consulted the Defence Committee of the Cabinet—Her Majesty's Government must have come to the conclusion that there is a danger of approximate war, that there is a danger that the peace of the world is about to be broken at no distant period. That, I am convinced, is the reason why they think it necessary to come down to the House and ask for this very considerable increase in the Navy Estimates. My mind misgives me, because, although I observe that the Government and the people of England always pretend to be particularly calm, to be the most phlegmatic and dispassionate people on the face of the earth, my experience of the Government and the people of England is that there are no people so impulsive and so passionate. For years, up till 1893, many of us were complaining that the Navy Estimates were too small, 1083 and that the Navy was not strong enough. But not the slightest attention was paid to us. Now that the Navy Estimates have run up within the last six years from 14½ millions to 28 millions some of us are inclined to think that they go too far in the other direction, and that the impulsive character of the people of the country has been not without its effect. There is the question of armaments. The right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean complains that we are not sufficiently rapid with our supply of armour. There, again, the same considerations should be kept in view as in regard to ships. The improvements in armour have been enormous, and are taking place every day. There is the Harvey system, which has introduced great improvements respecting the resisting powers of the plates. And then there is the Nickel system, and between the two systems enormous improvements have taken place in the quality of the armour. Well, if you had ordered your armour a few years ago and had a stock of it in hand, as the right honourable Baronet seems to suggest you should do now, you would have had a large stock of armour without these Harvey and Nickel improvements. The very armour which you are making to-day will be obsolete in the near future, when still further improvements will undoubtedly be made. Therefore I think the Admiralty exercised a sound discretion in not keeping in hand more armour than they actually need or can be put into the ships at present building. My belief is that for the present situation—I speak not of the future, nor of the further increases made by foreign countries, and which the Admiralty conceive are serious increases, although in my opinion a great deal of them will be found only on paper—my belief is that we have ships enough to handle and to give a good account, not only of the fleets of two Powers, but of the fleets of all the Powers of Europe put together. I think, therefore, that the Admiralty ought to delay as long as possible the building of the new ships, and I will give one reason for that opinion. Take the case of the ram, for instance. Our vessels are made for the most part with thin plates, with top hamper, and with partial armour, and are fitted with a ram—an instrument of warfare which has hitherto only proved dan- 1084 gerous in time of peace, and which I am convinced would prove useless in time of war. The doubt as to the use of the ram in war is one that is making rapid progress, and I believe that it will permeate into the Board of Admiralty in a shorter time than any suppose. As soon as that conviction has arrived at the Board of Admiralty and crept up to the first floor we shall have our battleships designed without a ram, and that will be, in my opinion, a stupendous improvement. For you will save the weight of the ram, which you will be able to put into guns and ammunition, and save also a number of defects incident to and inseparable from the ram. My belief is that the next great improvement in battleships will be the absence of the ram, and that the best thing to do with the ram is to get rid of it. Then as to slips. The right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean is most anxious to have more slips. My view is that the Admiralty have gone a little too far as it is in the brick and mortar line. I do not think that their methods of dealing with bricks and mortar have been a success. I am informed that the coffer-dam at Keyham is anything but a success, and we shall have someone coming to the Admiralty for more works at Keyham, and the Admiralty coming to the House for further sums of money for these works. The same thing is happening at Gibraltar. My belief is that we are proceeding on a wrong plan there, and that the contract is being carried out under such mistaken conditions that you will have to pay the contractors a much larger sum than the present contract price. I hope I may be mistaken, but both at Keyham and Gibraltar the works will involve a very much larger expense than was originally intended. I think some further explanation is required from the Admiralty as to the methods in which they are making the contracts. One word as to the warrant officers. My own belief is that it is not for the good of the service or for the good of the warrant officers themselves that a special rank should be made for them. But what I do believe is this—that there is a great grievance on the part of the warrant officers, and that there is great mischief in the Article in the Queen's Regulations which prevents the Admiralty promoting warrant officers to commission rank except only for gallantry in 1085 action. Gallantry in action is a quality which can only be shown by chance. There are other qualities than gallantry in action which are extremely valuable in the Navy. The Government should amend the Article, in the Queen's Regulations, and should open the water-tight door which prevents a man rising from the lower deck to the upper deck, and give any warrant officer commissioned rank who shows himself worthy of the distinction. My belief is that that would satisfy the warrant officers and remove all their grievances. You must hold out at every point the possibility of rising to the highest grades in the Service. That would be an enormous advantage. I am convinced you would soon have boys of a very superior quality joining the Navy: that you would get them to do superior work in the training ships, especially in the higher classes, and that you would give inducements and incitements to action to the warrant officers, who are the backbone of the Navy, such as they never had before. There are two other points on which I want to say a few words. In June last I called the attention of the First. Lord of the Admiralty to the question of marksmanship in the Navy, and I ventured to make the suggestion that the Admiral's inspection should always include an inspection of marksmanship, and a test by tiring of the actual merits of the gunnery on board ships. I believe the suggestion was entirely new, and I was rejoiced to notice that three or four months afterwards that Admiral Harris at the Cape had, if he had not accepted my suggestion, at least coincided with me in the same idea, and did do exactly what I ventured to suggest. The Admiral in the course of his inspection put the men through target practice from day to day. The same has been done in the Pacific by Admiral Palliser. That is the only way to secure good gunnery. The result is that the officers on board feel that good gunnery is an important factor in the reputation of the ship, and in their own reputation, and that their promotion will depend upon it. The consequence will be that instead of devoting all their attention to paint and brass work—I don't despise paint and brass work; they mean a great deal more than appears on the surface—and they will give a large part of their attention to what is the most important thing in the Navy—actual marksmanship. You can have the best 1086 ships, and the best guns, and the best men in the world, but if the men at the end of the guns cannot hit the mark the whole of the Navy is useless. I never did believe in torpedoes or in rams, but I do believe in big guns. I rejoice to see two distinguished Admirals have taken up this method of actual inspection of marksmanship, and I hope to hear from the Secretary to the Admiralty that the Admiralty is increasing the power of the Admirals in this respect. I hope, indeed, that they will go beyond leaving it to the initiative of individual Admirals, and that they will issue an order directing that the practice shall be pursued on all stations. There is only one last point I wish to make, and that is in reference to the officers who have been admitted into the Royal Navy from the Royal Naval Reserve. There are 150 of them. I think the original number was 100; but 50 have been added. They do the work of lieutenants. They were brought into the Navy under special conditions, with a special messing allowance of 2s. per day, so that on the point of pay they have an advantage over the ordinary lieutenants who have passed through all the grades for the "Britannia." There is a strong feeling of suspicion amongst the ordinary lieutenants in the Navy that these gentlemen, introduced over their heads as it were, will be continued over their heads, and will be promoted from lieutenants to commanders, and from commanders to captains. I do not believe any such intention exists at the Admiralty, and I shall be glad if that opinion is confirmed by the honourable Member the Secretary to the Admiralty. There- fore, they have advantages in this way, and they have special retiring allowances. This is the point of the whole thing, for they were specially engaged under the special condition that they were not to advance to the rank of warrant officers. They were taken in under these special conditions, and they thoroughly understood them. What I suggest now is this: that the rest of the Service are beginning to doubt whether those conditions will be carried out. I suggest that it would be a satisfaction to the rest of the Service if the Admiralty would make a specific redeclaration of the conditions under which these gentlemen joined, and give some reassurance that those conditions will not be departed from. It will be seen that it is a very great discourage- 1087 merit to those who join at 13 and work up to 20 years of age, and pass good examinations, to find that some others who have not the same length of service should be promoted over their heads, without having had any of the preliminary training which those who joined at 13 years of age have undergone. I do not mind so much if this is to be only a temporary arrangement, but I do hope that something will be done to satisfy the rest of the Service that this is only a temporary arrangement.
§ MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
The honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary referred in a somewhat vague manner to a certain scheme for facilitating the re-manning of the Navy and for strengthening the Naval Reserve, and he referred to that scheme as being embryonic. I should like to point out, however, that that scheme is far more advanced than embryonic, for it is very complete, and it only requires the co-operation of the Admiralty to bring it into full development, and I wish to impress upon the Admiralty the great desirability that this should be done. If the Admiralty would only provide a certain number of training ships, then the cost of training more boys of good parentage and surroundings for the Royal Naval Reserve would be met from other sources. There are a great number of charities in this country, and there are many large bodies like the county councils who would be willing to spend money in giving these young men the necessary training. As I said before, all we want for the full development of this scheme is the co-operation of the Admiralty. This scheme was fully explained in an article in the "Nineteenth Century" for January of this year.
§ MR. COLVILLE (Lanark, N.E.)
When the honourable Member for King's Lynn addresses this House we always expect to be interested and en-entertained, but when he speaks on the subject of armour plate he appears to get slightly mixed as to the different processes by which it is manufactured. I may inform him that the processes which he has alluded to are one and the same. I rise for the purpose of calling attention to the fact that the process which our Admiralty exclusively insist upon limits the supply of armour plate very much in this country. The monopoly for providing this class of 1088 armour is still in the hands of three large firms, whereas in France, with a very much smaller Navy, they have no less than six firms able to provide them with armour plate. There is another process which has recently been adopted, and that also is a monopoly of those three large firms in this country. Now, if the Admiralty have to complain, as they did last year, of difficulty in obtaining their supplies of armour plate, they have only themselves to blame, because they have insisted upon having only that one class for which those particular firms hold the monopoly. I think the House should know that not only does this cause a great delay in the making of armour plate, but it also means the infliction of an enormous penalty in the cost. Not long ago one of the largest armour plate manufacturers in America undertook to supply the Russian Government at a price of from £50 to £60 per ton. Now, our own Admiralty are paying from £80 to £100 per ton, and I have no doubt that if the door was opened a little wider we should have no difficulty as regards the supply of armour, and the Government would be able to economise very considerably in the cost if they would not insist upon the exclusive supply of these patent processes. I wish to make another remark with respect to the treatment of Scotland with regard to the expenditure of these largo sums of money in the Naval Programme. We have no slips, and there are no dockyards or arsenals in the whole kingdom of Scotland, notwithstanding the fact that a large proportion of the 28 millions voted for the Navy comes from that part of the United Kingdom, and while our shipbuilders on the Clyde share the contracts, we are shown no special favours. We hear of certain contracts having gone to certain firms on the Thames and to Belfast, not at the lower prices, and they have gone to those firms for reasons which are well-known to the Admiralty, and the Clyde shipbuilders have only been able to secure those contracts when they were able to accept the finest prices. If new land works are to be undertaken by the Admiralty there ought to be no difficulty in finding suitable sites in the kingdom of Scotland, which offers exceptional facilities for docks that would be suitable for the Navy, where the dockyards would be much nearer to the supply of 1089 raw material, and where cheap labour could be got to make the ships of the United Kingdom, where they could be provided on better terms than at Devon-port. I lift my voice in this Debate to insist that Scotland is entitled to some consideration on the part of the Admiralty when they are proposing to lay down fresh slips and spend more money in what the honourable Member has referred to as "bricks and mortar." If they propose to go in for schemes of that kind they ought to look out for some suitable sites in Scotland where they could put down slips and dockyards.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
The honourable Member for King's Lynn has asked me a question in reference to the officers of the Royal Naval Reserve. I may say that there is no intention on the part of the Admiralty of departing from the plain conditions laid down in the Order in Council under which officers of the Royal Naval Reserve join the Navy. They cannot be promoted from lieutenancies to be commanders except for one special reason, and that is gallantry in action. The honourable Member for Wansbeck has asked me a question with regard to the engine-room artificers, which was also alluded to by the honourable Member for Devonport. I fully appreciate the importance of the question which the honourable Gentleman has raised, and I think it is worthy of consideration. I cannot, however, give him any specific declaration upon that point, but I can assure him that it will be taken into careful consideration. With regard to the question of my honourable and gallant Friend the Member for Eastbourne, I am afraid that I cannot give any specific information at present about the 4.7-inch gun in drill ships, nor can I give him any specific statement as to mobilisation, and perhaps he will be good enough to wait until I have got further information. With regard to the new 12-inch gun, I have no specific information to give on the point.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
And so I will if the honourable and gallant Gentleman will wait until we get to Vote 2. As to the question of the honourable Member for Ross and Cromarty, I cannot give him any assurance with regard to the 1090 dispatch of training ships round the coast, but he must recollect that Scotland, as well as every other portion of the United Kingdom, has had, in the past, a fair share of these training ships.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
I can assure the honourable Gentleman that he is entirely mistaken about that. The Highlands and Islands of Scotland have had due consideration in this matter.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
My honourable Friend during the last six or seven years has pressed this case upon the Admiralty, and I regret to say that nothing has been done in the matter, although we have always had the usual statement and dust thrown in our eyes by a promise that it will be considered.
§ DR. CLARK
Yes, the ships have been all round the Indies, and there is no portion of the United Kingdom where our ships have not been. What has been suggested, not only by my honourable Friend, but by the Select Committee, is, that you should utilise the raw material which you would find in Scotland and Ireland—which is the best possible material you can get—and yet this Government has refused, like the previous Government, to do anything for Scotland in this matter. This is merely on a par with the rest of the treatment which Scotland receives as far as the Admiralty is concerned. Year after year they are spending millions of money, and you have got all your eggs in one basket in the South of England, far away from your supply of iron and skilled labour, and you are still remaining there. There are one or two places which have been proposed on several occasions to the House. The Irish Members have impressed upon the Admiralty the advisability of constructing a dockyard at Cork, which is one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Instead of sending so many millions down to the South of England to carry on shipbuilding under bad physical conditions, where you have to make everything at great expense, you should utilise what nature has made in the harbours of Cork and Scotland, into which harbours you could run your ships quickly in case of accidents. But not a single penny of this money has been spent in Scotland, where you have got the iron and the coal. You ought to 1091 have a dockyard on the Clyde and another one on the Forth, and if those rivers were in England you would soon have dockyards there. You have the Clyde and the Forth, and by a little enterprise you could easily carry your ships from the German Ocean into the Atlantic Ocean, and if those rivers were in either France or England this would be done, but because they are in Scotland you don't do it. In Scotland you have got the natural ironfields and coalfields, and you have also got skilled labour which is unequalled anywhere in the world, and Scotland is quite as fit to turn you out as good cruisers for the Navy as she turns out ships for the Merchant Service. We have all the facilities, and you ought not to persist, as you do persist, in having all your arsenals and dockyards in the Southern portion of this kingdom. As a matter of fairness, you ought to utilise the natural resources of Scotland. I, myself, and my honourable Friends, have raised this question on previous occasions, and we have done so again in a few short words. We utter our protest against our country being ignored, and against the natural facilities which she has got not being utilised as they ought to be for the benefit of the country.
§ MR. E. J. C. MORTON (Devonport)
I regret that the honourable Member for King's Lynn is not in his place, because a more extraordinary speech than he has delivered I have never heard in this House. He referred to coffer-dams at Gibraltar, but anyone who knows anything about Naval works throughout the British Empire would laugh at talking about coffer-dams at Gibraltar. However, as he is not here, I will not allude to his remarks further. I am extremely anxious to avoid wasting the time of this House, and I am not going on this particular Vote to refer to what certainly might be referred to, and to which other Members of this House have alluded, but which come more properly under Vote 1. I will deal with the most important, to my mind, in regard to all these Votes dealing with the Navy, namely, the question of the warrant officers, which, inasmuch as they are the top of the Navy, do really concern the whole of the Navy below them. I do want unquestionably to refer, and to refer with some amount of emphasis, to one part of the speech of the Secretary to the Admiralty, and I allude to that 1092 part in which he referred to the naval shipwrights. Now, the honourable Gentleman said that the shipwrights in the Navy were an inferior class of workmen. Now, that word "inferior" was used.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
The honourable Gentleman is entirely misquoting me. What I said was that they were inferior to the other classes of mechanics on board ship.
§ MR. E. J. C. MORTON
That was the statement made, but I will accept this explanation. He says the shipwrights are inferior to the other mechanics on board ship. When we are talking about wanting the Government to treat the naval shipwrights better than they do, and when we get a reply of this character it is a curious fact that while the trades unions of this country will always recommend their members to go as shipwrights into the dockyards, the same trades unions recommend their members never to go as naval shipwrights on board ship, and that to my mind is a very remarkable distinction, showing what the working men of this country think. And while that is the case, we have also to remember the fact that in the dockyards we have a dispute between fitters and shipwrights, and we find that the fitters complain that the shipwrights are employed on fitters' work, and, in fact, that the Government regard the shipwright as a handy man, who can turn his hand to anything, and so they starve the fitters in order to get more shipwrights. But when you get into the Navy you find the treatment of the naval shipwright is so bad that the Government cannot get them, and what I have to say on the point is this, and it is most important, because it does not deal primarily with my, own constituency, and it does not deal with the particular class whose interests I am advocating, but it deals with the Government, and the efficiency of the Navy, and it is this: that at the present moment in order to get more naval shipwrights— and they are absolutely essential to the efficiency of the Navy—you have issued a new Admiralty order whereby you are going to get boys trained to be naval shipwrights, and trained under conditions under which you are certain to get a worse article than you have at present. Well, now, it seems to me that it is a matter of absolutely national importance that We should see that we bowe 1093 all our men in the Navy efficient to the very uttermost. I think sometimes in the discussion about the Navy we are apt to forget that really the whole strength of the Navy ultimately depends upon the men, for it is the men we have to look to who are the real strength, and now you are encouraging by a sort of Dutch auction in this matter an inferior sample of naval shipwrights by the Admiralty order you have issued. I say that it is a matter of national importance, and one which ought to be really seriously considered by this House. I submit to this Committee that the whole condition and the treatment of naval shipwrights is one which ought to be altered in the sense of attracting a better class of workman than you have at present, instead of embarking upon the line upon which you are embarking now, namely, that of lowering the standard of men you take by the Admiralty order. It seems to me that that part of the policy of the Government is one which is most disappointing to those who have the welfare of the Navy at heart, and it is only to point out that particular matter that I have risen.
§ MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)
I wish to emphasise the point raised by the honourable Member for Devonport, and I should not have risen if it had been merely a question of shipwrights, because that point has been dealt exhaustively with. My point is this, that the case mentioned by the honourable Member for Devonport is not an isolated instance at all, but it is part of a retrograde policy on the part of the Admiralty which is resulting in a lowering of the standard of efficiency among the men who serve on Her Majesty's battleships. We have been told to-night that this question of the shipwrights is the only one that has to do with the trades unions, and the honourable Member who has just spoken has said that while the trades unions endeavour to do all they can to get men for the dockyards they do not recommend men to go in the Navy. Now, that is not quite a correct statement, and I speak impartially, as I have no shipwrights in my constituency at all, and I don't think that any honourable Members will believe that we have any shipwrights at Sheffield. The fact is that these shipwrights have not got their proper ratings on these battleships, and it is not a question of being menials at 1094 all. Surely, it is no degradation for them to do what their wives do. These men are perfectly aware that being on board ship is not the same as being on shore, and many things must be done there which are not done on shore. But the honourable and gallant Member surely will agree with me that a mechanic ought to have a rating worthy of his skill, and that is their complaint, which is not that they consider it menial to do this, that, or the other, but because they do think that they ought to have proper rating. But in this matter we get no consolation at all, because the Secretary to the Admiralty has gone one worse than the first Lord of the Admiralty did last year, for he has actually gone to the trouble of comparing them with other mechanics on board warships, to whom he says they are inferior. The Secretary to the Admiralty said, in a light sort of way, "Oh, it does not matter what they do, for we can take the ships to sea without any shipwrights." But in spite of that you are altering your regulations to the extent of getting boys to go for four years and spend part of their time at sea, so it seems, after all, that there is some idea in the minds of the Admiralty that the shipwright is needed. But I only mention the shipwrights to lead me to another point. On the 21th of February of this year the Admiralty issued an order, a part of which, with the permission of the Committee, I will quote. Now, this does not refer to shipwrights, but to the engine-room artificers, and the order goes on to say—With a view to obtaining more candidates for this rating their Lordships have decided to reduce the qualifications required for recruits. When sufficient candidates present themselves, preference should be given to those who are fully qualified as required by the regulations.Now, what is the plain meaning of that, if it is not that the Government has failed to get hold of competent mechanics for engine-room artificers? And why is this? Simply because the Admiralty refuse from time to time to listen to the appeals that are made in this House on behalf of these men not to give them some pampered position, but to put them on something like a proper status. Honourable Members plead on behalf of the officers, but when skilled mechanics, who, in the majority of cases, have been seven years learning their trade ask that shall how 1095 common decency on board our warships they are ignored altogether. Private employers are able to get qualified men by paying them a proper wage, but the nation suffers as a result of the treatment which these men receive on board our warships. We cannot get good men owing to that treatment, and are compelled to take men who are not qualified. That the nation is suffering through this blundering policy on the part of the Admiralty is beyond question. The Admiralty should pay some regard to the fact that a mechanic has a status of which he is proud, and that there is some dignity in labour. I am confident that if the great employers of labour in this country were' to treat their workmen as the Admiralty do, half the trade of this country would soon disappear. The Admiralty ignore altogether the just demands that are made, and the representative of the Admiralty here to-night has placed a badge of inferiority upon a class of workmen whose skill is as high as that of any mechanic in the country, and upon whom the construction of our ships in their initial stage depends. This is a policy for which the First Lord of the Admiralty is primarily responsible. It began when he helped the employers in the engineers' lockout, and it has been continued, the object being to snub the working men of this country. I submit to the right honourable Gentleman that he will find that the best and the most skilled work of this country is invariably done by trade unionists, whom honourable and gallant Members—especially the gallant Members on the other side of the House— condemn, and at whom they hurl the worst epithets they possess. I appeal to the Admiralty to again take into consideration the modest appeals that are made on behalf of skilled artificers. This is really a National question, and is not brought up by a dockyard Member who is desirous of getting votes. It goes far deeper than honourable Members may think. I do not agree with hardly a single word uttered by the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, who seems to be a general alarmist and the leader of the Jingo Party, who imagine that Parliament exists for one purpose only, and that to build new battleships and to raise a few more battalions. The right honourable Baronet told us what 1096 the Front Bench believed. It is always difficult to know what either Front Bench believe for some time, but from what the right honourable Baronet said, one would think that the armour plate makers of this country were woefully behind, that there was a great amount of arrears, and that the nation was in danger. On this subject the language of the First Lord last year was most explicit. He declared that the supply of armour plates was well in hand, that what delay had occurred had been the result of circumstances which were not normal, and that he was satisfied. I take it that the Secretary to the Admiralty has endorsed that view, but I do not think he sufficiently enlarged upon it. I do not wish to waste the time of the Committee, but I desire to press upon the honourable Gentleman who represents the Admiralty to-night the fact that, unless something is done, we shall find ourselves, should the Navy be called into action, very deficient of the men upon whom, I think, the success of naval fights largely depends.
§ SIR E. CLARKE (Plymouth)
There is one definite statement which has been made by the honourable Member who represents the Admiralty, on which I should like to say one word. I refer to the special terms of promotion for officers who have joined from the Royal Naval Reserve. The honourable Gentleman said there was no intention of departing from the Order in Council under which, as I understand, these officers are only to have promotion hereafter in consequence of gallantry in action. I am not going to suggest to the Committee that if these officers have accepted commissions on distinct terms they have any claim to be allowed to depart from those terms, but I think it would be desirable to say that those terms are to be very much regretted. The consequence of the enforcement of these terms is to make two classes of lieutenants in Her Majesty's Navy, one class being able only to obtain promotion as the result of gallantry in action, and being passed over from time to time by their juniors simply because they have not had an opportunity of showing that gallantry. It has been suggested that the coming into the navy of officers from the Royal Naval Reserve would be an injustice to those already in the Navy if they were allowed to meet them on equal terms. I cannot 1097 see that there would be any injustice at all. The Royal Naval Reserve officers are taken into the Navy because they are experienced and capable seamen, and I think it is an extremely bad thing for the whole tone of the Navy that these Naval Reserve officers, who are brought into the Navy because there is a great National requirement for their services, and because they are known to be capable men, should be specified as a class who should be disqualified for advancement except in instances which it is hoped will seldom, if ever, be offered to them. I think the sconer these special terms are abolished the better it will be for the Navy, and I am sure if this country desires to have men in the Merchant Service who are looking forward to employment in Her Majesty's Navy, and who are prepared to give experienced service to this country in time of need, they had better not advertise that the condition of these men when they become officers will be a condition of disqualification for promotion.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)
I desire to say a word or two on behalf of the men in the Royal Naval Reserve. Last year, during the discussion on the Navy Estimates, I ventured to suggest to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that the time had come when the Government should treat the men in the Royal Naval Reserve a little more generously than they had been in the habit of doing in the past. These men are supposed to get a pension when they arrive at the age of 60, after doing 20 or 25 years' service in the Royal Naval Reserve. The great question with the merchant firemen to-day is how to live until they arrive at the age of 60. I know that at the present time very few of the men who have served their full term in the Royal Naval Reserve are receiving this pension. The men of the Royal Naval Reserve have been for years petitioning successive Governments, asking that they might have this pension of £12 per annum at the age of 50 instead of 60, but they have received no satisfaction whatever. I do not think it would cost the Government or the country a large sum of money if this pension was given at the age of 50, and I trust that the Government will take this matter into their serious considera- 1098 tion. The total number of stokers in the Royal Naval Reserve is 3,500, but at the rapid rate at which we are building warships, I am satisfied that if all these ships were put into commission to-morrow, it would be impossible to man them with their full complement of men. No doubt you could put skeleton crews on board, but we should be short of 10,000 men if we wanted to man them thoroughly and efficiently. That is a very serious condition, indeed, for this country to be in, and there is no necessity whatever why this state of thing3 should continue to exist. We have the largest Mercantile Marine in the world, and I think if the seamen had a fair opportunity on board our British merchantships, we could have a Reserve, not of 25,000 men, but of over 60,000 men. The number could be increased to this extent if things were managed as they ought to be. What is the Government doing at the present time with regard to finding employment for the men in the Royal Naval Reserve? I have seen a large number of them apply for engagements on board British ships, and I have heard them told that they were not wanted, as the ship was carrying foreigners. These men, who had served their 10 or 15 years at sea, who had good characters, and against whom not a word could be said, were told that they were not required simply because they chose to demand a living wage. I know the Government cannot compel ordinary shipowners to carry British seamen if they do not want to, but I will tell the Government what they could do. There is no reason why the P. and O. Company, who get over £400,000 a year from this country, should not be compelled to carry a certain number of British seamen, both sailors and firemen. The Government has power to do this, for they could stipulate it in their Mail Contract.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
I should like to remind the honourable Member that the Mail Contract is not before the Committee.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
I am not dealing with the Mail Contract, Mr. O'Connor. I am merely endeavouring to show how the Government could find employment for the men who are in the Royal Naval Reserve. It may be a little outside the question, but it certainly has to do with 1099 the Royal Naval Reserve. What is the use of men being members of the Reserve, being liable to be called upon in time of war, if they are not able to obtain employment in time of peace? Under the regulations of the Royal Naval Reserve, a seaman is compelled to put in a certain amount of time at sea every year before he can have performed his drill. How can they put in this drill if they cannot find employment? I have been told that outside some British ships they place a notice, "No British seamen need apply."
§ AN HONOURABLE MEMBER: Where?
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
I did not say I had seen it. I said I had heard that it had been done, and, what is more, I believe the statement to be true, and that the notices have been put up in the port of London.
I must again draw the attention of the honourable Member to the fact that he is getting wide of the Vote now before the Committee.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
I will endeavour, Mr. O'Connor, to keep a little closer to the matter under discussion. I contend that it is time the Government endeavoured to increase the number of firemen in the Royal Naval Reserve. The number at present is 3,500, which is not sufficient. Personally, I think I am entitled to a vote of thanks from the Government, because, in November and December of last year, I encouraged about 300 firemen to join the Royal Naval Reserve, but although I did that, I still have to complain of the treatment these men receive. I am surprised that the Royal Naval Reserve men do not get more support in this House. The statement of the honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty with regard to the inferiority of the shipwrights will cause a great deal of discontent throughout the country, because I know, as a matter of fact, that the Admiralty have been continually pestering the Associated Shipwrights to encourage their members to work in the Government dockyards. After doing that, I think it is certainly out of place for the honourable Gentleman to make the statement he did.
§ MR WILSON
But it is all the same. The man who goes to sea in a merchant ship as a shipwright is able to work in the dockyards as well as the other men, and the statement of the honourable Gentleman that the men on board ship have not an equal amount of skill to those in the dockyards is one which will be challenged very much in the country. The Admiralty do not appear to give much consideration to the grievances of these men. The warrant officers have also grievances, but no steps have been taken by the Government to remedy them. If there is a Division, I shall, in consequence of my dissatisfaction with the statement that has been made by the Admiralty, vote against the Government.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
There is one matter of some importance that has been raised in this Debate, and which has been referred to by myself and other more distinguished Members of this House year after year, which has not received any reply from the Government. I refer to the question of the position of warrant officers and their promotion to commission rank. This is a matter on which, I think, the Committee are entitled to have some statement from the Government. If the honourable Gentleman would desire that I should raise it on another Vote, I shall be willing to do so, but I think it would save time if we had a reply now.
That 110,140 men and boys, etc., be employed for the said Service."—(Mr. Stead-man.)
§ MR. STEADMAN
I move to reduce the Vote for men by 500, as a protest against the remarks of the Secretary to the Admiralty with respect both to the shipwrights and the warrant and petty officers.
That 110,140 men and boys, etc., be employed for the said Service."—(Mr. Stead-man.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 49; Noes 153. (Division List No. 45.)997
|Aird, John||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)|
|Allhusen. August us Henry Eden||Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme||Cruddas, William Donaldson|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Cubitt, Hon. Henry|
|Arnold, Alfred||Boulnois, Edmund||Currie, Sir Donald|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Bowles, Capt. H.F.(Middlesex)||Curzon. Viscount|
|Arrol, Sir William||Bowles,T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Carlile, William Walter||Denny, Colonel|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Dickson-roynder, Sir John P.|
|Baillie, James E. B. (Inverness)||Cavendish, V. C.W. (Derbysh.)||Dorington, Sir John Edward|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Doxford, William Theodore|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn.A. J. (Manc'r)||Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.J. (Birm.)||Drucker, A.|
|Balfour,RtHnGeraldW. (Leeds)||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wor.)||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Dyke, Rt.Hn.Sir William Hart|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Charrington, Spencer||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A E.||Fergusson,RtHn Sir J. (Manc'r)|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Coddington, Sir William||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)|
|Beach,Rt.Hn. Sir M.H.(Bristol)||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Beach.W.W.Bramston (Hants)||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Fison, Frederick William|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Cooke, C.W.Radeliffe (Heref'd)||FitzWygram, General SirF.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Fletcher, Sir Henry|
|Bethell, Commander||Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H.||Forster, Henry William|
|Bhownaggree, SirM. M.||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)|
|Biddulph, Michael||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Fry, Lewis|
|Garfit, William||Leighton, Stanley||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Gibbs,HnA.G.H.(City of Lon.||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Godson,Sir Augustus Frederick||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (L'pool)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Lorne, Marquess of||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Lowles, John||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Macdona, John Cumming||Smith, Hon. W. F.D. (Strand)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Maclver, David (Liverpool)||Stanley, Hn.Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Maclean, James Mackenzie||Stanley, Edwd. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||M 'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)|
|Green, WalfordD.(Wednesbury)||M' Iver, Sir Lewis (Edin., W.)||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Malcolm, Ian||Stewart, SirM. J. M ' Taggart|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||Maple, Sir John Blundell||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Gunter, Colonel||Marks, Henry Hananel||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Milbank, Sir Powlett Chas. J.||Talbot, RtHnG. J.(Oxf'd Univ.)|
|Hanbury, Rt, Hn. Robert Wm.||Monk, Charles James||Thorburn, Walter|
|Hanson, Sir Reginald||Morrell, George Herbert||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hardy, Laurence||Morton, Arthur H. A.(Deptf'd)||Tomlinson, Wm. Ed. Murray|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Mount, William George||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Heath, James||Murray, RtHnA.Graham(Bute)||Usborne, Thomas|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Helder, Augustus||Myers, William Henry||Vincent,. Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Hill,Rt.Hn.A.Staveley(Staffs.)||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Hill, Sir Edwd. Stock (Bristol)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Hoare, Ed. Brodie (Hampst'd)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Drlngtn.)||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)|
|Hobhouse, Henry||Percy, Earl||Webster, Sir R. E. (T. of W.)|
|Holland, Hon. Lionel R. (Bow)||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Houston, R. P.||Pilkington, Richard||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Howard, Joseph||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Pretyman, Ernest George||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Priestley,SirW. Overend(Edin.)||Williams, Jos. Powell(Birm.)|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Purvis, Robert||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Rankin, Sir James||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Jenkins, Sir John Jones||Rentoul, James Alexander||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks)|
|Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlepool)||Wortley, Rt, Hn. C. B.(Stuart-|
|Johnston (William (Belfast)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas.Thomson||Wylie, Alexander|
|Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Roche, Hn. James (East Kerry)||Wyndham, George|
|Kemp, George||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Round, James||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Kimber, Henry||Russell, Gen. F.S.(Cheltenham)|
|Knowles, Lees||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Lafone, Alfred||Rutherford, John||Sir William Walrond and|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Causton, Sir Richard Knight||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.)||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Clough, Walter Owen||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H||Colville, John||Gold, Charles|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Crombie, John William||Gourley, Sir Edwd. Temperley|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Hammond, John (Carlow)|
|Bainbridge, Emerson||Dalziel, James Henry||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-|
|Baker, Sir John||Davies, M.Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Hazell, Walter|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Healy, Maurice (Cork)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Dillon, John||Healy, Timothy M. (N. Louth)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hogan, James Francis|
|Billson, Alfred||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Holland, Wm. H. (York, W.R.)|
|Blake, Edward||Duckworth, James||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Dunn, Sir William||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Ellis, John Edward (Notts)||Jacoby, James Alfred|
|Burt, Thomas||Ellis, Thos. Ed. (Merionethsh.)||Kay-Shuttleworth,RtHnSir U.|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Evans, SirFras. H. (South'ton)||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Caldwell, James||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Kilbride, Denis|
|Cameron, Sir Charles (Glasgow)||Fenwick, Charles||Kinloch, Sir Jno. Geo. Smyth|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Lawson,SirWilfrid(Cumb'land)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Ffrench, Peter||Leng, Sir John|
|Lloyd-George, David||Palmer, Sir Chas. M. (Durham)||Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)|
|Lough, Thomas||Perks, Robert William||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Macaleese, Daniel||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Tully, Jasper|
|M ' Ewan, William||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wallace, Robert (Perth)|
|M ' Kenna, Reginald||Price, Robert John||Walton, Jno.Lawson(Leeds,S.)|
|M ' Killop, James||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|M ' Laren, Charles Benjamin||Reckitt, Harold James||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Maddison, Fred||Richardson, J. (Durham)||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Maden, John Henry||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Montague, Sir S.(Whitechapel)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Williams, Jno. Carvell (Notts.)|
|Moore, Arthur (Londonderry)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Schwann, Charles E.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Morgan, W.Pritchard(Merthyr||Scott,Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Moulton, John Fletcher||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Wilson, Jos. H. (Middlesbro')|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Sinclair,Capt.Jno. (Forfarshire||Woodhouse,SirJ.T.(Hudder'fd)|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Woods, Samuel|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Souttar, Robinson||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|O'Connor, James (Wicklow.W.)||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Stevenson, Francis S.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|O' Keeffe, Francis Arthur||Strachey, Edward||Mr. Edward Morton and|
|O' Kelly, James||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Mr. Hedderwick.|
|Oldroyd, Mark||Thomas, Alf. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Allen,Wm.(Newe.-under Lynn||Kilbride, Denis||Shaw, Chas. Edw. (Stafford)|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Lawson.Sir Wilfrid(Cumb'lnd)||Sinclair, Capt. Jno. (Forfarshire|
|Baker, Sir John||Lough, Thomas||Souttar, Robinson|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Billson, Alfred||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Caldwell, James||M ' Ewan, William||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Clark, Dr. G.B.(Caithness-sh.)||M ' Kenna, Reginald||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Maddison, Fred.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Colville, John||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Davies,M.Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Moss, Samuel||Williams, John Carvell(Notts.)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Moulton, John Fletcher||Wilson,Henry J.(York,W.R.)|
|Duckworth, James||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Oldroyd, Mark||Wilson, Jos. H. (Middlesbro')|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Price, Robert John|
|Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Reckitt, Harold James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Holland,Wm.H.(York,W.R.)||Richardson, J. (Durham)||Mr. Steadman and Mr.|
|Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Roberts, John H. (Denbigh)||Edward Morton.|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Arnold, Alfred||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Folkestone, Viscount||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Arrol, Sir William||Forster, Henry William||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Pease, Herb. Pike(Darlington)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gedge, Sydney||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Bagot,Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Balfour,Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Balfour,RtHnGeraldW(Leeds)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Purvis, Robert|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunkett||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Pym, C. Guy|
|Bathurst,Hn. Allen Benjamin||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Rankin, Sir James|
|Beach.RtHnSir M.H.(Bristol)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Rasch. Major Frederic Carne|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Graham, Henry Robert||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry G.||Green, WalfordD.(Wednesbury||Richardson, Sir Thos.(Hart'pl)|
|Bethell, Commander||Gretton, John||Ritchie, Rt.Hn.Chas.Thomson.|
|Bill, Charles||Greville, Hon. Ronadl||Round, James|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gull, Sir Cameron||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Bowles,T.Gibson(King'sLynn)||Hamilton,Rt.Hn.Lord George||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hn. St. John||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Butcher. John George||Hardy, Laurence||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Carlile, William Walter||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Cavendish,V.C.W.(Derbysh.)||Helder, Augustus-||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich||Hobuouse, Henry||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Chaloner. Capt. R. G. W.||Holland, Hn. Lionel L. (Bow)||Smith, James Parker(Lanarks.)'|
|Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.J.(Birm.)||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen(Worc'r)||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Stanley, Hn. Arth.(Ormskirk)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hn. Henry||Joliffe, Hon. H. George||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E||Kay-Shuttleworth.RtHnSirU.||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Kemp, George||Strutt, Hn. Charles Hedley|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Kenyon, James||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Keswick, William||Talbot RtHn J. G. (Oxf'dUniv.)|
|Cook. Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cooke,C.W.Radcliffe(Heref'd)||Lafone, Alfred||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cornwallis,Fiennes StanleyW.||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Cranbourne, Viscount||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Long, Col.Chas. W. (Eveshain)||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Long, Rt. Hn.Walter(L'pool.)||Wentworth, Bruce C.Vernon-|
|Curzon, Viscount||Lorne, Marquess of||Williams, Jos. Powell (Birm.)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Denny, Colonel||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Dorington, Sir John Edwd.||Macdona, John Cumming||Wodehouse.RtHn E.R.(Bath)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Maclver, David (Liverpool)||Wortley, Rt.Hn.C.B.Stuart-|
|Doxford, William Theodore||M'Iver,SirLewis(Edinb'h,W.)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Duncombe, Hn. Hubert V.||Malcolm, Ian||Wyndham, George|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart-||Massey-Mainwaring,Hn.W.F.||Young, Commander(Berks,E.)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Middlemore.Jno.Throgmorton|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||More,Robt.Jasper(Shropshire||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Finch, George H.||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Morrell, George Herbert||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Morton,Arth.H.A. Deptford)|
|Fison, Frederick William||Murray,RtHnA.Graham(Bute|
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding £5,242,700, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expenses of Wages, etc., to Officers, Seamen and Boys, Coast Guard, and Royal Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1900.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
If the Committee will give the Government this Vote we might adjourn. There will then be for to-morrow the remaining discussion upon Vote 1 of the Army and the uncontentious Vote for the Army, and probably that will be sufficient for to-morrow.
§ *MR. KEARLEY
I understand that no more Naval Estimates will be taken if this goes through this side of Easter?
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
I am sure that the Leader of the House does not wish that we should finish off these Votes until we have dealt with the subject which has been raised with regard to the promotion of warrant officers. I know he did not really deal with the subject, and there are other honourable Gentlemen behind me who desire that the subject should be dealt with.
§ MR. E. J. C. MORTON
The point which has been put is this: I do not want to underrate the private soldier, but I do say that the British sailor is not inferior to him, and yet the British sailor has no career offered him in the way in which the British soldier has. I will not use the old argument over again, but from the point of view of the efficiency of the Navy this is important. You offer no career to the British sailor which is at all analogous to what you offer to the British soldier. I have never been able to understand why there is any objection to giving a similar line of promotion into the commission ranks in the case of the Navy as you have done all along in the case of the Army. I have tried to find where the obstruction conies from, for every single naval officer in this House has been in favour of opening such a line of promotion, and the great majority of them have been on the opposite Bide of the House, and yet we cannot get this thing done. As far as I have been able to diagnose the situation the cause of it is on account of some opposition among the Lords of the Admiralty, and I really do think that we ought to take every 1104 opportunity of getting some explanation out of the Admiralty as to why we cannot open certain positions, and give these men commission rank. We have not had an answer to that question yet, although the honourable Gentleman knows the argument perfectly well. I put the question again now in the hope that we shall get some satisfactory answer out of the Government upon is point.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
There is one question which I should like to allude to if the House will permit me, and I will not say a word more than is necessary. As one who has been connected with some of the largest and swiftest ships in the Navy, I think I may say one word in connection with the position of the engineer officers. I think that is a matter of immense importance, and I put it forward not in any narrow sense, but as a question affecting the welfare of our Navy. There was circulated among honourable Members a few days ago a pamphlet—and I received one myself—which shows the necessity of dealing with the matter. I think that pamphlet is a refreshing contrast to the ordinary statements made with regard to persons in the employment of the Government, for it puts very fully and most moderately what the position of the engineers is, and what is required to put that service on a proper footing. All I have to say is, that you have splendid ships and machinery, and if you want justice done to those ships and machines you must take more care than you do at present to attract the best men in the engineering profession. It is a fearful responsibility that you put upon these men, and anyone who has not been down in the engine-room does not know what that responsibility is. You must, if you are to have those engines properly treated, and if you want to get out of the ships what you are spending millions of money for, have a proper system under which you make sure that the engineering branch of the service receives due recognition at the hands of the Admiralty. The responsibility of this work has grown immensely with the growth of machinery, and is growing more from year to year, and I do not think that the position of the engineers has received its proper share of attention. We have heard about the inferior officers, and they are important enough, but I think it is infinitely more 1105 important that the man you have at the head, and upon whom the responsibility of the engine is placed, should be a man as good as you can possibly get. I do hope the Admiralty will consider the necessity of making the position sufficiently attractive so that the very best men in the engineering profession may be obtained. Motion made, and Question proposed—
§ "That Item A (Wages), be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Havelock Wilson.)
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
I beg leave to move the reduction of Vote 1 by £100, and my reason for doing so is to call attention to the very unsatisfactory payment of seamen in the Royal Navy. I am told by men in the Royal Navy that the food supplied by the Admiralty is not sufficient; and, secondly, that a large portion of the men's wages go to the canteen to provide them with food. It is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs that men have to provide themselves with food on board Her Majesty's ships. I venture to say that it ought to be the duty of the Government to provide the men with sufficient food without having to spend their wages at the canteen for that purpose. Then, with regard to clothing, I am told that they have to purchase a pair of coats out of their own wages, and a large number of naval officers have different ideas as to uniform.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
The subject which the honourable Member is discussing is more germane to Vote 2.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
Then I will not depart from the rule. I venture to say that the wages received by the men in the Royal Navy are not sufficient, more especially for married men, who receive £2 10s. and £2 15s. per week, which I consider is not sufficient. I, therefore, move to reduce this Vote by £100.
§ Amendment negatived without a Division.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
The noble Lord complains that there is no promotion to commissions from the lower ranks, but he is entirely in error, because so far from that being the case at the present moment, upwards of 100 officers hold such commissions. With regard to the question of further promotions I have nothing to add to what I have already said.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
There is the difference in the pay between the petty officer and the warrant officer.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
There is a complaint that there is hardly any difference between the two, and not sufficient to support the rank.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported this day; Committee to sit again this day.