§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £5,527,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expenses of wages, etc., to officers, seamen and boys, coastguard, and Royal Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901."
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB () Great Yarmouth
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by the sum of £534,572, the total cost of the Royal Marine forces, which, as the House is aware, consists of nearly 4,000 artillery and 15,000 infantry. In starting, I am sure the First Lord will agree with me that their costly training to produce military efficiency is second to none, also that at sea the marines hold their own as gunners with their bluejacket comrades, and the artillery boat them at field gun competitions on shore. The original object for which this force was created—and it existed before there was any standing navy at all was to man and fight ships, but particularly to land and fight on shore. At present, I presume the object of maintaining this force is, or ought to be, to fight the ships, giving the fullest co-operation of their naval comrades, and to fight as land troops on shore. It is, shortly, a purely military body, with naval training superadded. The Admiralty spend most 1460 money and time on producing, military efficiency, as regards both the artillery and the infantry, and giving officers and men a perfect knowledge of military work on shore. That course is preliminary to their naval course at headquarters on shore, and later on board Her Majesty's ships. In regard to the other part of the naval service, the Admiralty properly spend the greater amount of money and time in training, in the most perfect way, the naval officers and seamen for sea service, and after that the naval officers and seamen get a smattering—nothing more—of military knowledge. The important fact to remember is that under these conditions less injury is done to the efficiency of Her Majesty's ships by landing the marine portion than by landing the naval officers and seamen portion of their complements. A ship cannot go to sea without its full complement of naval officers and seamen.; but, although it would not be perfect, it can go to. sea having, necessarily perhaps, left its marine detachment on shore. The second point is, unless the training is altogether a sham. and a delusion, that when a naval force has to operate on shore, or to assist the army, the artillery and infantry marines are better fitted for the work than the naval officers and seamen can be. In raising this question there is always the danger of being accused of running one interest against another, but I can assure the Committee that this is not my desire. The only desire I have in adopting the line I have taken is to secure the efficiency of Her Majesty's Fleet and of the naval service. In all questions connected with the naval service it must always be borne in mind that an admiral must be paramount in his fleet, and a captain must be paramount on his ship, and that overriding all other considerations appertaining to the Navy is—the efficiency of the ships. With these simple principles in mind let us see what has happened in South Africa. The time has not yet come to criticise certain events and, certain matters at the front; it would not be opportune, it would not be right, to do so at this moment, and I do not intend to. go very far below the surface. I shall take a proper opportunity by and by of; bringing certain matters before the House. Meantime, with the news we have received, to-day with so much delight and satisfaction respecting the relief of Lady- 1461 smith, we cannot forget the splendid service rendered by the naval guns, nor can we forget that a cause of the great and important gain to our whole position in South Africa was the inventive genius of Captain Percy Scott. It would be wrong of me to proceed further without saying that much, because this is not a question of Navy versus Marines or Marines versus Navy; it is a question of the public interest, of the welfare of Her Majesty's service. There is no question that the assistance the Fleet was able to give the Army by landing those guns at the nick of time did alter the face of the whole situation. But we must not be carried away by what strikes us as picturesque and unusual. The fact of naval officers and seamen doing gallant and brilliant service on shore as they have done naturally and rightly awakens enthusiasm throughout the length and breadth of the country. But I wish to point out that underneath the surface there are very grave considerations as to naval policy and practice. It has been a developing and growing policy to take naval officers and seamen out of their ships to fight on shore, and latterly it has come to taking naval officers and seamen, without whom the ship cannot go to sea, leaving the marines on board. I shall show what has happened in South Africa. Lot me take two passages from the printed Statement of the First Lord. He says—A battalion of marines took part in the Army drills and manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain during the month of July.''That was done by orders of the Admiralty, for what? To perfect the officers and men in tactics, and to make them efficient for acting with the Army on shore. The cost of sending that battalion was met out of the Naval Votes, and, of course, no one can deny that so long as this force is maintained it is of the utmost importance its officers and men should be trained to the greatest point of perfection in all matters connected with land warfare. Then comes a bald statement under the heading "Mobilisation," to the effect that—Detachments consisting approximately of 98 officers and 1,192 seamen and marines have been landed from the ships at the Cape for temporary service with the land forces in South Africa.I must press my right hon. friend for a little more information on this point. When 98 officers and over 1,000 men were 1462 taken out of a small squadron and sent hundreds of miles up country we are entitled to know exactly the position in which Her Majesty's ships were left. I may explain that the figures I am about to give I obtained in this way: for the ships I took the Navy List for February, which I presume gives an accurate statement of the ships in the Cape Squadron: and then for the complements of the ships I turned to Brassey's "Naval Annual." From those calculations I conclude that the aggregate complements of Her Majesty's ships at the Cape cannot be more than 4,200, so that with nearly 1,200 officers and men taken away on shore those ships were only very partially manned. The total number of executive and marine officers in that squadron, from post-captains to midshipmen, is only 123, and if 98 of those officers are landed it leaves the squadron in a very serious position, looking at it from the point of view from which I approach this question—namely, the efficiency and readiness of Her Majesty's ships for immediate service. This is too serious a matter to be passed over without any further explanation from the Admiralty. I should like to ask were all the marines landed from that squadron; were no naval officers or bluejackets landed until the supply of the marines was exhausted: were any naval officer's and bluejackets landed from any ship leaving marines on board; and, in view of the fact that the "Powerful" and the "Terrible" cost a vast sum of money and were built for the special purpose of patrolling and covering long distances at sea, we are entitled to know exactly why it is that those ships have been in port or only moving a few miles ever since they arrived on the coast of Africa. The Committee are entitled to know what condition these cruisers were in with regard to their complements each week since the beginning of the war.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. GOSCHEN, St. George's,) Hanover Square
That is a large order.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
It is a large order, but I take it that if in any week it turned out that a ship was without its full complement of naval officers and seamen and had marines on board my case is complete. It must not be forgotten that if the Admiralty have done what I say they are only following recent 1463 precedent, because, in the previous Boer War, sea officers and seamen were landed while the whole of the marines were kept on board. If we can get an explicit answer on the points I have raised I do not think I shall have brought this matter before the Committee in vain. I also want to ask whether naval officer's and seamen were sent out from home to fill the vacancies caused by naval officers and seamen having left their ships and gone up country, while marine officers and men out there were cooped up in those ships and not landed at all. It is commonly reported that when the crisis came in South Africa the Admiralty were asked to send a battalion of marines to the Cape.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
At all events, my right hon. friend, in one of his brilliant speeches, said in defence—
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
But my right hon. friend pointed out in answer to a rumour that you could not send a force of marines to the Cape from home because, if you had to mobilise the Fleet, the ships would be inefficient without their marine complements. But if the right hon. Gentleman was able to send reinforcements of naval officers and seamen to take the place of those who had gone up country, I cannot see why he could not have sent the marines. If this House provides an amount of money to furnish the Admiralty with a great service of artillery and infantry for sea and for land service in time of war, and most of that money is spent on training for laud service, we ought to know whether the Admiralty are not misusing the forces, or wasting that money by misusing it. I particularly raise this question in order to obtain a clear and explicit statement of the policy of the Admiralty with regard to these landing parties from ships. There is nothing in the regulations as to what are to be the arrangements of the Admiral if he has to land a force. The Admiral uses his discretion. This marine force has been trained for a special purpose, and my contention is that when war breaks out that force should be applied to that special purpose. I am fully and firmly convinced that the gallant Admiral at the Cape was perfectly right in rendering every assist- 1464 ance he could to the Army. But my point is, Was that assistance given in such a manner as to least and not most impair the efficiency of Her Majesty's ships? Clearly, the forces that can best be spared from the ships are the marine officers and men; and equally clearly, the forces which can least be spared are the naval officers and seamen. I ask the First Lord specifically why there are no regulations laid down on this point; if there are such regulations, did the Admiral follow them? Is it not case that officers and men of the marine force have been kept on board while naval officers and seamen have been landed? Every sensible man must applaud the Admiral for sending 4.7 guns and 12pounders up country, but the point is the kind of men who were sent with them. The service of the 4.7 guns and the 12pounders is part of the ordinary training of the private in the infantry marines, to say nothing of the artillery. It is important to remember that. What I want to bring out is that instead of sending post captains and other officers away from their ships, the Admiral should simply have sent a subaltern and twenty-five infantry marines with each gun. The prize returns show that even these infantry marines are efficiently trained in the use of these guns, and beat the seamen at them at sea. Therefore, why are there no regulations to prevent your ships being rendered inefficient by post captains, commanders, and lieutenants being sent to do the work of subalterns and infantry marines? In order to illustrate to the Committee the differences of training of naval and marine officers, and seeing the uses made of it, by the light of what is happening in South Africa, I will give the simple facts of the career of a naval officer on the one hand, and of a marine artillery officer on the other. This marine artillery officer had to take part in the public competition for the usual entrance examination for an officer of the Royal Engineers or the Royal Artillery. He passed successfully in midsummer, 1893. He was then sent to the Naval College for every sort of scientific instruction. Here [exhibiting papers] are four closely written, two foot square pages of the highly scientific subjects in which he had to pass. Having passed through the Naval College after two years close study and repeated examinations, he went to the gunnery ship 1465 "Excellent." There he went through, under naval officers, a course of naval gunnery. That he passed, and then went to the torpedo school, and passed through a course of instruction under naval officers. He was then, and not till then, fit to join headquarters for his training at the Marine Artillery Barracks. He then had to go through an elaborate course of infantry, musketry, and field artillery instruction, a course of siege guns and guns of position, and repository and armament courses. This particular officer was specially distinguished in field artillery. He completed his course just four years after he passed the competitive examination. He was then immediately embarked, and later proceeded to South Africa. On his ship were 12-in., 9-in., and other guns, but he had nothing to do with the general gunnery of the ship. The 12-in. guns were, I am informed, under the control of two naval lieutenants brought in from the merchant service a few months previously. That was his experience of the Admiralty system of using his long and costly artillery training when on board ship. He was suddenly despatched with the naval brigade from Simon's Bay with forty of his highly trained gunners without a gun, while the naval portion of the brigade consisted of eight naval officers, forty-eight men and two guns. So that you have this position, that this officer, having gone through all this training to fit him for this particular work, in the hour of danger, when the work in which he was trained had to be done, is sent with his forty equally well trained gunners with no gun, in a so called naval brigade in which the total marines, artillery and infantry, were to the total seamen in the proportion of five to one. The naval gun detachment was eight naval officers to two guns, or two officers per gun. The whole brigade was found at Graspan in that position. There was still this marine artillery officer with his forty gunners and no gun, but a change had been made, for there were 100 bluejackets with twelve naval officers and four guns. There was a naval officer in command of the whole, so-called, naval brigade, a gallant gentleman, as bold as a lion and as fearless as they make them, but wholly and entirely ignorant of land warfare. Under him was a major of marine infantry, who had passed his examination 1466 at Aldershot or elsewhere for his lieutenant-colonelcy, and knowing how to command three arms of the service. The young marine artillery officer and his gunners, with all their artillery training, were used, in accordance with Admiralty custom, as infantry, and the officer and most of his gunners were shot storming the position as infantry. That was the case of a young marine artillery officer used as the Admiralty are using this artillery force now. Lot me give the brief career and sort of training of a naval officer, this marine officer's superior, but absolutely ignorant of military war, who was with that brigade, and who was taken away from his ship where he might have been useful. I do not know when he became a cadet, but he was acting sub-lieutenant on 14th March, 1890. His name then disappears from the Navy List, and as far as my inquiries go it was because he failed to pass.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
He was not put in command, for a post captain, equally ignorant of land warfare, was; but if his naval superiors had been shot he would have been in command, and under those circumstances would have commanded this marine artillery officer, had he, lived, according to Admiralty regulations.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am sure my hon. and gallant friend does not wish to misrepresent the case. I cannot remember at the moment whether this particular gallant officer was shot or not. If he was not shot, was it not Major Marchant who was put in command when the other superior officers had been shot?
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
Perhaps I have not made myself clear. I am quite aware that when everybody senior to Captain Marchand was killed or wounded he would command, and I am equally aware that Captain Marchand brought the remnant of the brigade out of action, and that three days afterwards he was superseded in the command of the brigade by another naval officer knowing nothing about land warfare or 1467 tactics. What I was saying was that the naval officer to whom I was alluding reappeared in a supplementary list with seniority in 1895, when the marine artillery officer was only half way through his artillery training. The first ship on which he was employed then was a coastguard ship; after nine months he was transferred to a sea-going ship, and then he was sent to the front. Those are the two histories. My point is this: you have this naval officer with no military, and very scanty naval, training, landed on shore, to the great detriment of his ship, and sent to the front as the superior of officers trained for military work, while the officers trained for military work are really loft out of the chance of command altogether. This is a matter concerning the lives of men and the efficiency of ships and of the whole service, and I extremely regret that, knowing what I do, I am forced into the unpleasant position of having continually to bring the misapplication of this force forward until there are proper regulations made in the interest of the public service, and not in favour of any particular class of officers. I beg to move.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item D (Royal Marines) be reduced by £591,965."—(Sir John Colomb.)
ADMIRAL FIELD () Sussex, Eastbourne
I regret very much that my hon. and gallant friend has raised this matter in the way he has done. Some people would think from his observations that there was jealousy in the naval service between the seamen and the marines. I hope there is no foundation for that, and that that is not the impression my hon. and gallant friend intended to convey, but certainly his remarks tended in that direction. Seamen and marines love one another as comrades, and are proud to live together. If I accept my hon. friend's premiss, perhaps I should be bound to accept his conclusions. But I do not accept his premiss. His main premiss was that the marines are better fitted for military work on shore than seamen. I must first ask for a definition of military work. If what is meant is military work performed by soldiers in a military capacity, such as marching up in solid ranks and assaulting a position, or lying on their stomachs and firing at the enemy, no doubt they are 1468 better. But if what is meant is fighting naval guns on shore, I challenge the statement, and say they are not better fitted to discharge that military duty. I object to draw a contrast between the abilities of seamen and marines on board ship; they act together and they Jive together; but my gallant friend forced me to do so, and I say that the seamen are more fitted to deal with naval guns on shore than are the Royal Marines.
They were ship guns that were landed, not field guns mounted on ordinary artillery carriages; and I say that seamen are eminently fitted to handle those guns. It is no new thing for seamen to be employed alongside of troops on shore. Sir George White himself made a strong appeal for a naval brigade in Burma, and Napoleon in all his wars with Austria had a great band of seamen of the guard commanded by an admiral. When an appeal was made by the general in command at Ladysmith for assistance, it was the duty of the Admiral to send up the best assistance he could. My hon. and gallant friend seems to think that only subalterns ought to have been sent.
Never mind the efficiency of the ship, Sir. There was no fear of the ship or of our supremacy at sea, and it is all nonsense to talk about that. What in the name of common sense is the good of stickling for the keeping up of a ship's efficiency when there is no enemy on the horizon? I hope my hon. and gallant friend will excuse me for speaking so hotly. I think that the Admiral acted properly in landing the brigade, and also that some marines were landed with it.
If that is so I am sorry, but I believe the usual practice when a naval brigade is landed is to allow the Marines to share the distinction, and that a proper proportion is included. If, as my hon. and gallant friend says, forty of the Royal Marine Artillery were under Lord Methuen at Graspan without guns, I cer- 1469 tainly think it was a mistake, although it was one that was probably made from the best motives. I call it a waste of splendid material to send men to handle rifles who are especially fitted to handle more powerful weapons, but if that did take place I think the Marine Artillery were afterwards landed to work the 4.7 guns. It will also not be denied that they joined in the storming party under Lord Methuen's direction and displayed splendid courage and dash, led as they were by a splendid officer. We are proud of such men, but I must express my regret that such magnificent material should have been used in storming trenches at all. They are not drilled for that purpose; they are too valuable. I can quite understand the general in command thinking that if they were left behind it would be very hard lines on them, and that he therefore put them in the front line—the post of honour. I regret, however, that seamen who are not drilled to lie down on their stomachs and fire from behind stones should have been used for that purpose, but in emergencies no doubt recourse is had to measures which would not be carried out on ordinary occasions. The whole fighting in South Africa is not ordinary fighting, and we are proud to think that our seamen had a hand in it and shared in its glory. General Buller in his last despatch also praised very highly the action of the naval gunners.
Precisely. My hon. and gallant friend in raising this question drew a parallel between the career of a marine officer and the career of a sailor officer, and some of his remarks raised rather painful feelings. He said that sailor officers, even captains, know nothing about military operations. My hon. and gallant friend went a little too far. He will not deny that nearly all our officers have passed through the gunnary school, where they learned how to handle field batteries and field guns. I never yet knew any captain in command of a naval brigade who would not leave the marine officers in command of their own men. There must be, of course, a superior officer, and if he is landed he must discharge his duty. In one engagement during the Indian Mutiny the senior military officer was killed, 1470 and that magnificent sailor, Captain Peel, had to take command; but he immediately said, "Go on with your own men; I am only nominally in command"; but he could not abdicate his position as senior officer. My hon. and gallant friend complains that eight naval officers were landed with forty-eight seamen and two guns, but no one would grudge young middies hearing the whizz of the bullet and seeing active service. Then he complains that more naval officers than marine officers were landed. But, of course, there are more naval officers on board a man-of-war than marine officers, the numbers being laid down by regulation, and I do not think it would be beneficial to increase the marine officers in time of peace, though in active service no doubt work might be found for them. Therefore I do not think my hon. and gallant friend has made out any case for casting aspersions on the admiral in command.
My hon. and gallant friend condemned someone for the landing of this brigade, and, of course, the admiral must be responsible. I assume he endeavoured to do justice to the hon. corps under his command, but the suggestion that all marines should have been landed is most unfair: that would have created gross discontent throughout the whole service. It would be unreasonable to demand it. I think with my hon. and gallant friend that the Marine Artillery should not have been landed without guns: still, without an explanation from the senior officer I am not prepared to condemn him. I have had some experience of landing parties, and I have never yet seen an atom of friction between the marines and the bluejackets. They work as brothers and accept the situation as they find it. The marines are sea, soldiers, and are a splendid body of men of whom we all are proud, and the Navy would be very much weaker without them. I hope my hon. and gallant friend will accept in good part all I have said. During the last three years I have pressed strongly on the Admiralty that marines should be treated as soldiers when on shore, and that they should have the full rations granted to soldiers. I have not succeeded in my aim, but the marines have got an addition to their pay of 2d. per day, for which 1471 I am grateful. I presume it is useless to ask for more. I suppose it is the Treasury and not the Naval Lords that are to blame. There is one other point which I wish to point out to my right hon. friend. When a soldier is sent to the front his wife is allowed a separation allowance, but when a marine is sent to the front his lodging allowance is stopped, and his wife is deprived of 6d. a day. I think that is very hard lines. I am aware that this is a grievance that the men feel as a great hardship, because when a marine is at the front his wife is 3s. 6d. a week worse off than if he were at home. I earnestly press the matter on my right hon. friend in the hope that something may be done. He told us that he was not prepared to make any addition, but I hope he will reconsider his decision.
§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY () Yorkshire, Shipley
I should be very sorry to interfere in the quarrel between the sailors and the marines, and I certainly shall not attempt to do so. But I cannot understand the speeches just made by my two hon. and gallant friends. They appear to have been arguing as to whether the discretion of the Admiral in charge of a station should or should not be limited, in circumstances similar to those we recently had in Durban. I feel quite certain that the First Lord of the Admiralty will not listen for a moment to any such suggestion, and that the discretion of the Admiral in command will continue to be, as it is now, quite unfettered as to the manner in which he should distribute sailors and marines, having regard to the necessities of the moment. There are two points in connection with the manning question to which I respectfully ask my right hon. friend's attention. The first of these is as to the provision for stokers. When a seaman after twelve years service re-engages, he re-engages on a higher scale of pay—I think an increase of 2d. per day—
I must remind the hon. Member that the question before the Committee relates to the marines, a reduction having been moved upon that particular item.
§ *MR. ARNOLD - FORSTER () Belfast, W.
I venture to detain the Committee 1472 under rather depressing circumstances in order to direct attention to a matter of very serious moment. It is the present position of the corps of Royal Marines. I think the First Lord of the Admiralty will not accuse me of not being sensible of the spirit of subordination and the spirit of camaraderie which are the great motive springs in any service, and especially in the Navy. I certainly should not think of taking the strong measure of making an appeal of this kind if I were not convinced by long experience that the time is come when such an appeal is not only justifiable but is absolutely necessary. I venture to repeat what I intimated in this House on previous occasions, that there is a feeling of discontent existing in the minds of officers of the corps of Royal Marines which is so grave and so widespread that it would be folly to ignore it. I venture also to express the belief that it is possible that my right hon. friend himself—though I readily admit he sympathises with all grievances which have a real basis and with which he is acquainted—is not, perhaps, as well acquainted as I and some others happen to be with the extent and depth of this feeling. I repeat, Sir, I have never asked an officer, or a soldier, or a seaman, whether he had a grievance; I have never encouraged anyone in Her Majesty's Service to dilate upon any grievance he thought he might possess: I do not think that that is the business of any civilian or any Member of Parliament, but I have during the last ten years had the privilege of conversing and corresponding with hundreds of officers, and I say that what I have heard and what I have read in correspondence is calculated to make me reflect very seriously. I need hardly say that coming from the corps of the Royal Marines every complaint has been made in subdued tones, and with that absolute devotion to the interests of the service which has always characterised the corps, and I should feel very little encouraged to pursue this matter if I were not convinced in my own mind that not only is this feeling justifiable, but that under the circumstances it is absolutely inevitable. And believing that the conditions which created it are calculated to perpetuate it, I now appeal to the First Lord of the Admiralty to consider whether the time has not come to alter those conditions. An immense change 1473 has come over the relations between the naval branch of the combatant service and the Royal Marine branch. It has been already pointed out to the committee that an enormous part of the work of the seamen proper has gone. Crossing royal yards and the handling of sailing ships are things of the past, and every man who is acquainted with Her Majesty's ships must be aware that a large number of duties are now capable of being performed by either seamen or Royal Marines indifferently. That in itself has produced a new situation, and I go further and say that the sailor with his extraordinary energy, his desire for effective work and his power to do it, has not been content to abandon one species of work without taking up another, and he has claimed for himself, and is still daily claiming for himself, the right to perform what I may call strictly military duties hitherto performed by the marines. It is far from me to say that he does not perform those duties as he performs all other duties, very well; but the fact is one which has to be considered in looking at the situation which now exists. I know that naval officers do not as a body share the views which I have expressed. I have the greatest possible and most sincere respect for the opinions of naval officers—I should be a very unwise person if I had not but I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that they are a little disqualified from forming an independent judgment on this matter. I have talked to naval officers on the question of the duties of marine officers on board ships, and they made replies to me, replies which were so obviously bond fide, and with the certainty that they depended upon real and not on sham considerations, that I could only marvel how much men could be misled when incapable of looking at things from an outside standpoint. I have been told by naval officers that it was inconceivable that marine officers could undertake certain duties. I have been told that they had always been performed by naval lieutenants, and that the suggestion that they should be discharged by marine officers was absurd. Naturally men brought up under a particular system associate the performance of particular duties with particular ranks and requirements. But these things are accidental, not essential, and until their accidental side is recognised and the true relations between the 1474 various members of a ship's company have been restored we shall see the continuance of the feeling to which I have referred. It would be wrong of me to enter into the details of the view which I know exists, but after the general statement which I have made I think I may refer to one or two statements which have reached me on this subject. One marine officer writes—After over nineteen years service I. realise, as we all do, that we are passing through a most critical period in the history of the corps; and whereas under previous heartburnings and snubs we refrained from complaining oven in mess among ourselves, in order to avoid disheartening the younger officers commencing their careers, yet now we can discuss and talk of nothing else besides the bitter uselessness of our position and the fruitless results of the labours of our officers, non-commissioned officers, and men. If Her Most Gracious Majesty could only know ! We are poor and untitled men and have no influence.Another writes—We feel deeply the hardships of not being; able to lead our own men, and on the men's part of not being led by their own officers.I submit to the First Lord of the Admiralty that the complaint is well founded. Let me try and explain to him what I conceive it to be. We have now in the Royal Marine Corps 18,500 officers and men existing on a basis absolutely different from that on which any other corps in Her Majesty's service stands. The officers are deprived of almost every advantage secured to officers in every other branch of the service. I propose to. substantiate that statement. In the first place you ask an officer to enter the Royal Marines with the absolute certainty that he is entering on a career which has no. prizes for him. He has no hope of obtaining that position of dignity and authority in the service which every man in every other branch is able to attain. I will justify that statement. I was looking, the other day, into what is the relative position of the officers of the other branches of the service. It is well known that if you take away from the personnel of the Royal Navy the non-combatants, the engineers, and the Royal Marines, there are 35,000 men who are serving in the strictly naval department, as against 18,500 in the Royal Marines. Now, what is the chance of promotion of a midshipman in the Royal Navy? At the present moment there are seventy-three admirals on the Active List, and 1475 of these thirty are in active employments. In addition to that there are the posts of commanders, post captains, captains in the Steam Reserve ashore, etc. As to the Royal Marines, you have a body of 18,500 men with a large number of officers; but out of them all how many do the Committee suppose are employed as generals on the active service? One single officer ! And how is he employed? He is seated on a stool in a "two pair back" in Northumberland Avenue doing clerk's office work. That is not a prospect to attract any officer to the service. You ought to give a greater prospect of advancement to the officers of the Royal Marines. But that is not nearly all. When an officer of the Royal Marines is actually serving you put him in a position which is absolutely humiliating. You deprive him of the command over his own men. I have been often on ships which carried many Royal Marines, and found that an officer of that corps is the fifth wheel in the coach—a man who, by the rules of the service, is condemned to be practically an idler; and so painful is the situation in which he is placed that even the ordinary attributes of an officer on sea or land are denied him. He is not qualified to sit on a court-martial in which his own brother officer's or his own men are concerned—which is absurd. When a Naval Brigade goes into action, the Royal Marines, whatever they do, have no place in the Gazette as Royal Marines, but are reported as part of the Naval Brigade, whether they form a large or a small portion of that brigade, or however important their services may be. The Royal Marines are without any representation on the Board of Admiralty; and, in fact, I believe that is the reason for a great many of the grievances of which they justly complain. They are in a position which has been described to me by one of their number as being "the only class of men in this country who cannot be tried by their peers." Not only that, but they cannot be represented when on trial, as it is most important they should be, by men of their own class. I ask hon. Members in this House, and my countrymen outside, whether they regard these arrangements as being fair and just, and I put to them this test: whether they would desire to see one of their own sons entering a profession subject to these limitations. The First Lord will do me the justice to admit that I 1476 have said nothing about the non-employment of the Royal Marines during the present war: but I do think that it would have been a politic and wise act if one battalion of Royal Marines or a separate unit of the Royal Marine Artillery had been employed. I entirely appreciate what the First Lord said, and I give full weight to the consideration, that it would be a very unwise thing, in the present state of Europe, to deplete the Royal Marine Divisions of men who are necessary to form the complement of the ships of the Navy in case of war. But I think more might have been done than has been done to give the Royal Marines a chance of service in South Africa, What I complain of is the whole system of treatment of the Royal Marines, which is not a question of this war, but a question of the past and the future. I believe honestly it would be far better for the Royal Marines if they could be transferred bodily to the Army, and taken clean away from the Navy, and used as garrisons at ports and coaling stations all over the world. I do not desire to see the marines separated from the Navy I should like to see duties assigned to the Royal Marines on board ship which would make them self-respecting members of the military community, of which they are compelled to form a part. I should like, when I go to sea in one of Her Majesty's ships, to see Royal Marine officer's as important as naval officers. But I see no signs of that change being made, and I ask that the only other alternative may be adopted, namely, that the administration, which, hitherto, has absolutely failed to perceive or to acknowledge the grievances of the Royal Marines, should cease to take any interest in them at all. I should hand them over to some other branch of the administration which would do them more justice. The Royal Marines really do deserve more consideration, and I have no hesitation in saying that, go through the world where you may, you will not find a corps equal to them for the purposes for which they are supposed to be used—that is, as a fighting force on sea or land with small arms and with artillery. I do not think it will be said that the Royal Marines do not desire greater opportunities because they are not fit to fulfil higher responsibilities; but if you are going, for all time, to limit the oppor- 1477 tuniities of these officers and deprive them of any advancement whatever, such as their comrades in the other branch of the services receive, you will undoubtedly in time only get a class of officers who are unable to obtain admission into the Naval branch of the Navy or into the Army. That is not a highly desirable result. You have at present, in both the Royal Marines and the Royal Marine Artillery, men qualified in every possible way to perform their duties and of high scientific attainments; but you are wasting their services. The only way you make use of their services is when you exercise the unfortunate charity which is sometimes shown for their benefit. I am told that the Royal Marine officers are not badly off; that they are given a billet here and a billet there. That, no doubt, is a very good thing; but these are not the prizes of the profession, and you cannot expect the best professional work from a man when the only chance of reward he has comes to him almost by accident and as a sort of charity. I have said nothing about the men in the Royal Marines. At present the corps is getting a great number of recruits, and the standard has been raised; but I think it is worth consideration whether you will continue to get the men, in view of the fact that the condition of the private soldier of the Line is considerably better than that of a Royal Marine. It is a very good thing to increase the emoluments of the soldiers of the Line, but not a good thing, if you put the Royal Marine at a disadvantage. At the present moment a Royal Marine on shore, on leave or on duty, is at a distinct disadvantage compared with a soldier of the Line. The Line soldier on leave receives 1s. 6d. a day, the Royal Marine 1s. 5d., and the difference between the daily pay of the Royal Marine and the soldier of the Line on duty on shore is actually 2d.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present (Dr. TANNER, Cork County, Mid). House counted, and forty Members being found present,
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (continuing)
I am really not speaking for the pleasure of hearing my own voice, but because I am under a pledge to perforin what I consider a duty, and I have only now a few words to say, but I should like, for my own justification, to say that the daily pay of a Royal Marine is 1s. 2d., with messing allowance of 3d., or a total 1478 of 1s. 5d. The daily stoppages are for meat and bread 4½d. and groceries 2½d., or 7d. in all, leaving a net daily pay of 10d. The Army soldier's daily pay is 1s., messing allowance 3d., total 1s. 3d. The stoppages for groceries, &c., are 3d., leaving a net daily pay of 1s.—a credit balance of 2d. a day compared with the Royal Marine. But that is not a matter which I make the substance of my appeal to the First Lord. My appeal is for common justice and fairness in dealing with this very gallant body of officers in the Royal Marines. I am quite positive that I have a good case for them, and I am appealing for men who have absolutely no representation at all at the Admiralty or the War Office, and who have practically no advocates in this House except the hon. and gallant Member for Great Yarmouth and myself. I think it would be a shame if the standing disadvantages from which these men suffer should be allowed to be perpetuated, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord if he would consider the proposal I venture to make to him—whether it would not be possible to refer the question of the position of the officers of the Royal Marines to any impartial Committee he likes. I would only stipulate that on that Committee or Board there should be a considerable element of professional opinion.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
The right hon. Gentleman has not been attending to me. I suggested that there is a real case for inquiry, and that, in order to remove all doubts, the position of the officers of the Royal Marines should be referred to a board or committee. There is a feeling abroad that you are doing a most serious wrong to a very gallant body of men, and I would refer the matter with the greatest pleasure to any six civilians whatever. If that were done I would undertake in five minutes to prove that injustice is being done to these men. This is a serious question, and should be regarded always from the point of view of professional efficiency. But it has never been found to be true in this or any other country, that professional efficiency can be obtained by professional injustice. It is because you treat the officers of the Army and Navy justly that they are contented and loyal. There have been times when you have not treated these officers justly, until it was 1479 dinned into the ears of the Departments and this House so that their complaints could not he misunderstood. The officers of the Royal Marines have the same claim to full and fair consideration, though they have not the same representation in this House as those of the Army and Navy.
*CAPTAIN PHILLPOTTS (Devonshire,) Torquay
I do not propose to take more than a few moments of the time of the House, hut having heard several remarks made by the hon. Members for Great Yarmouth and West Belfast, I should like to say a few words with regard to the Royal Marines. No one has a greater admiration for that body than myself, and the condition as regards these officers is simply hopeless. A man has no career after he attains the rank of captain or major, but at the same time I do not see myself how the evil is to be remedied. Although it has been suggested that the "marine" officers are at a disadvantage with naval officers, because they are not qualified to sit on a naval court-martial, and although that grievance occupies a great deal of attention, I fail to see a practical way in which it could be dealt with on a Vote in the Committee of Supply. The hon. Member for Great Yarmouth alluded to certain officers and marines now serving on the South African station, being left on board their ships whilst bluejackets were employed on shore. I would just say that most of those who have been employed on shore have been landed for the purpose of working the bigguns that have been lent by the ships. Now, although the marines have been drilled in field gun drill they have never been trained to work the naval broadside gun on shore. When a marine is ordered for service on shore he is landed as an artillery or light infantry man, and is armed with his rifle, bayonet, and the usual equipment. The bluejacket is told off to attend his gun and has his cutlass and revolver, the arms which could be carried whilst he is dragging his gun on shore. It would be a manifest injustice to take away the arms of the bluejackets and hand them to the marines when there was a prospect of using them. I should be only too glad to see the marines have a better chance of distinguishing themselves, but I regret that the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth should have stated the case as he did. The case of the marines is a very hard one, and the officers are often debarred 1480 from distinguishing themselves before the enemy. I wish that great evil could be remedied, but I do not think it is to be remedied by putting the marine officer in a false position on board ship. Whatever may be done to improve the position of the marine officer, I hope it will not take that form. The career open to the marine officer is not such as would tempt any smart youngofficer,though it is difficult to say how it could be improved. The marine officer was not under the War Office, but the Admiralty, and the opportunity of seeing service in the field was very small. Applications for their services are only made by the War Office in cases of emergency. In times of peace, and when there is no particular demand on the War Office, undoubtedly the marines are left out in the cold, and I do think it would be a very great advantage to the service if something could be done to give these highly-trained officers a better chance of distinguishing themselves. At the same time, I do not think it would be desirable to put them in a false position as regards the Navy. Much has been said about marine officers not being able to sit on naval courts-martial. I wonder if hon. Members have considered the conditions under which naval courts-martial are formed. In the first place the officer who orders the court-martial to be held must have a special commission empowering him to give that order. That officer nominates the president, and the other officers sit by seniority and seniority only. Supposing it were desired that a marine officer should sit on a court-martial where the prisoner happened to be a marine, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred you would have to make special provisions to override that seniority clause in order to enable a marine officer to sit. Another provision in the Naval Discipline Act is that no naval court-martial can be held unless two or more ships are present. The reason of that provision is that there should be at all events a certain proportion of officers serving on the court-martial who are strangers to the prisoner, so that impartiality shall be secured. Another point is that no marine officer serving afloat holds a higher rank than that of a major, and there would in most cases be so many senior officers present that a major would not be summoned to sit on the court-martial unless special provisions are made. I do not see how this matter can he 1481 touched upon without a very drastic alteration of the procedure of naval courts-martial and of the Naval Discipline Act, an Act which I contend has worked fairly and mercifully and for the benefit of the service. With reference to the marines engaged in South Africa, [do not think there has been the measure of injustice to them of which my hon. and gallant friend complained. The bulk of the bluejackets have been landed with their kits and arms to work the guns specially mounted by the naval officers, and it is ridiculous to suppose that a man encumbered with the equipment of the Royal Marine Artillery or Infantry is in a position to drag and work a field gun. If the equipment of the bluejackets were taken away from them and handed over to the marines in order that the marines might go to the front, I think they would feel, and justly feel, that they had been hardly dealt with.
§ MR. KEARLEY () Devonport
It undoubtedly is a fact that the status of marine officers is not on an equality, as it should be, with that of naval officers. The cause of the discontent is that marine officers are not allowed to have any real position. The hon. Member who has just spoken has been a naval officer, and he (like all naval officers) has the view that a marine officer is not entitled to equality with a naval officer. He has been arguing that it would be a most difficult thing to give a marine officer the privilege—to which he should be entitled—of serving on court-martials when at sea. In 1891 this question was brought before the House by Sir John Pope Hennessey, who moved an Amendment to the Army Annual Bill.* The then First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) deliberately gave him a promise that he would amend this anomaly. He was frank enough to point out that the Naval Lords were against it, but still he was so convinced of the equity of the scheme that he decided it should be granted. It never has been granted. Why? Because the naval influence at the Board of Admiralty was too strong. I intend this year to test this thing on the Army Annual Bill, when we shall have an opportunity of seeing whether it is possible or not. It is regarded as a great grievance, and I do not believe it is impossible. It is selfishness and prejudice on the part of the naval element to ex-
*See The Parliamentary Debates [Third Series], Vol, cccli., page 1347.1482 clude these men from legitimate and just privileges. The hon. Member for Great Yarmouth referred to the position marine, officers were placed in when they landed with the navy for purely military purposes on shore. Is it not a fact that a marine officer, although his rank may be superior to the naval officer, is not entitled to take command in military operations or drill? That cannot be denied, and it is felt very deeply. Take the question of gunnery. All frank men will admit that the marines—both officers and men, whether they be marine artillery or marine light infantry—are excellent gunners. Many of the marine officers pass identically the same examination that gunnery lieutenants pass. When on shore they qualify hundreds of men in the gunnery examinations for service afloat; they pass these very men to get the exact qualifications they must have before they go on board ship. When the marine officer is removed from land to sea he is not even allowed to re-qualify the very men he himself passed on shore in gunnery for service afloat. I am perfectly satisfied it is purely prejudice and selfishness on the part of naval officers and authorities, and I hope this debate will elicit something from the First Lord that will tend to get that done away with. It is most injurious to the service. The marines in our Navy to-day represent one-fourth of the fighting force of the Navy, and it is one of the finest fighting bodies we have. There is an impression amongst marine officers that their representative has not the same opportunities afforded to him of making recommendations to the First Lord that are afforded to the naval branch of the service. Why should there not be a marine officer on the Board of Admiralty? I now want to consider the position of the ordinary marines, and compare their treatment with that of the bluejackets and men in the Army. Take the question of boots. You now exercise these marines on shore with the troops. You embodied some of them and sent them to the manoeuvres. You do not make them the same draft of boots as you make the Army. The soldier gets a couple of pairs of boots a year: the marine only gets one. In this statement you have conceded something; there is an additional grant for a pair of canvas shoes. Why it should resolve itself into canvas shoes I cannot understand, except they are cheaper.
§ *THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. MACARTNEY,) Antrim, S.
1483 The marine authorities were consulted on this subject and they declared themselves perfectly satisfied.
§ MR. KEARLEY
If the marines were consulted, the verdict would be the other way. They have been asking to have the same treatment in that respect as is given to the Army. These men are also perpetually under stoppages quite different from the stoppages inflicted on the Army. They really cannot afford to meet, out of their slender pay, all the calls made upon them. Their free rations are totally inadequate. The marine on shore gets for his breakfast half a pound of bread and a pint of coffee; for his dinner he gets three-quarters of a pound of meat and no vegetables, and for supper he gets half a pound of dry bread and a pint of tea or cocoa. And yet it has been contended that the marines are fairly treated. You do not feed them properly, and you do not behave fairly to them. Take the question of gunnery again. Prior to embarkation the marine has to pass as a trained man. When he embarks he takes his place at the gun, and works side by side with the bluejackets, who have it open to them to qualify as seamen gunners, which brings with it an additional 3d. per day. The marine is debarred from that altogether. Can any reason be given for that? It wants some explanation. As it cannot be discussed, I content myself with asking a question as to the reason the negotiations with regard to the firing range at Plymouth have not been carried through. I suspect the difficulty there is a landlord's question. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us what is the real difficulty standing in the way of our having a proper firing range at Plymouth.
§ MR. ARCHDALE () Fermanagh, N.
We have always had the best feeling on board our ships between naval officer's and marine officers. The envy and jealousy of which the hon. Member has just spoken do not exist. I did not intend to intervene in the debate, but I could not hear my old mates abused as they have been by the hon. Member for Devonport. One of his remarks was that marines were not allowed to train as seamen gunners. The bluejacket who trains as a seaman gunner must pass a highly technical examination. It is utterly impossible for a marine to learn his drill as a marine and pass such an examination. My experience of marine 1484 artillerymen is that they are not to be compared with seamen gunners as artillerymen. To say they are on the same footing for ship's guns landed on shore is to leave a wrong impression. I differ entirely from the hon. Member for Devonport's opinion of the marine. The marine is drilled as a soldier, he is not drilled as a bluejacket. He is as good by land as a landsman, but he is not trained in gunnery as a bluejacket is. The hon. Member for Great Yarmouth said the naval officer was absolutely ignorant of drill. I think that, if uncontradicted, would lead to a wrong impression. No man is better up in battalion drill on board ship than the gunnery lieutenant, and many of the officers sent on shore in charge of our battalions in Cape Town and Natal were ex-gunnery officers, who were as well up in drill as the marines. I do not think the marine officers believe they are kept out of serving on courts-martial by naval officers, or think they have any of the grievances which exist only in the imagination of men who go about our seaport towns.
*SIR U. KAY - SHUTTLEWORTH () Lancashire, Clitheroe
I regret that the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth should have made a comparison between two naval officers—one an unnamed but easily recognisable officer of marines, the other a naval officer whom, in response to an appeal from the First Lord, he mentioned by name. A more deplorable form of putting a strong case before the House could scarcely have been selected. But the relative status of officers of the marines and naval officers, especially lieutenants, requires attention from the Admiralty. The officers of that splendid body, the marines, are not satisfied with their position in the service. This is a source of injury to the efficiency of the service, and may at any time lead to serious trouble. The feeling of the marine officers at the present time is, I believe, stronger than it has been for some time. I cannot agree with another part of the case which was presented to the Committee by the hon. and gallant Member for Great Yarmouth, who seemed to argue that when marines were available naval officers and bluejackets should be excluded from rendering the services which we have seen them render during the present war. I think it would have been a thousand pities if the gallant naval officers and men of the 1485 Naval Brigade, who had rendered very distinguished service and signal help in the operations which have led to such a happy result within the last few hours, had been excluded from any share in these transactions. I welcome the use of naval contingents within reasonable limits upon such occasions, for we have seen in the Crimea, in the Indian Mutiny, and in the more recent wars, what splendid services forces composed of marines and bluejackets have been able to render. I earnestly trust that this subject will receive the careful attention of the present Board of Admiralty. The Board has recently undergone some alterations, and I have had the pleasure of serving in different capacities with the gallant naval officers who sit upon that Board. I may say that I have the greatest confidence in those officers individually, and I believe that they are men who will bring unprejudiced minds to bear upon naval questions as much as it is possible for naval officers to shake themselves free from prejudice. There is a very strong feeling among marine officers that their position, their status, and their prospects are not satisfactory. It is deplorable to think that after we bestow so much pains and spend so much money upon the training of marine officers there is such a poor career before them. We see all these unemployed officers, and, as the Member for West Belfast pointed out, there is only one general officer—an exceedingly distinguished and gallant officer—who has any post of importance. He is the one brilliant exception, and a very important exception, to the employment of such officers in high positions. I do not pretend to suggest the details for a remedy, for I think it would be very presumptuous on my part to do so. I cannot think, however, that this question can rest where it is, and I do appeal to the hon. and gallant Members in this House who have served in Her Majesty's Navy, and more particularly those who constitute the present Board of Admiralty, to pay the greatest attention to what they may regard as a sentimental grievance. I do not think we ought to estimate lightly the importance of a sentimental grievance, though this is also a practical grievance, for very often a sentimental grievance may have in one of Her Majesty's services very far-reaching and injurious consequences. I think it is in the best interests of the Navy that this subject should receive careful attention 1486 and that there should be no feeling of a grievance on the part of those officers, and there should be no want of consideration for their feelings. I will not say more upon this occasion. One is rather tempted to be led into detail, but I have purposely resisted the temptation, although I know that I lay myself open to the charge of proposing no specific remedy. That I would rather leave to the Board of Admiralty itself.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL () York, E. R., Holderness
My right hon. friend knows as well as I do that the real difficulty on board ship is that there is no occupation or employment for marine officers. Some years ago it is quite true that a few Royal Marine Artillery officers were used as gunnery officers, but when scientific training came to the front the Naval officers naturally determined that it was proper that the whole of those important duties should be undertaken by those officers, and by degrees they set to work to undertake their duties, and the marine officers were thus deprived of this one occupation. That is their profound difficulty in this question, and until you can find employment for the officers of the marines on board ship you will have this perpetual difficulty, which I am afraid the Admiralty will not be able to solve. If the difficulty is as great as my hon. and gallant friend the Member for West Belfast says it is, then it is only to be solved by doing what can now well be done, and that is to remove all the marines from the ships and employ them elsewhere — which is a thing that everybody connected with the service would deplore. That is the one real solution of the difficulty. I do not know whether the Admiralty have really gone into the matter, but when they do I am quite persuaded that they will come to the same conclusion as I have done.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
There are few occasions on which I feel it will be less agreeable to take part in a debate than upon the present occasion. To my mind comparisons are odious, and too many comparisons have been made in the course of the debate. I wish to bear my own testimony to the efficiency of that great body the marines. My hon. and gallant friend has asked me if I am satisfied with that efficiency. I have never lost an opportunity of saying that I fully recognise the value of that force, and I should be extremely sorry that some difficulties 1487 that seem to exist in the force should lead hon. Gentlemen to calmly contemplate its total reorganisation, and possibly its separation from the Navy. My hon. friend the Member for West Belfast suggests that such a contingency may arise, and that the marines may be established as a separate force; but if that does happen they will no longer be marines, and they will be no longer associated with the Navy, with its traditions, and with all the great glory of the Navy itself. Such a course may be forced on the Government at some time, but certainly not while I have the honour to represent the Navy. It may come about, but if it does it will weaken the Navy, it will weaken the marines, and will run counter to the general spirit in which the Admiralty wish people to regard the marines. My hon. friend the Member for West Belfast says that he will be content to leave this important matter to the consideration of a civilian body of six Members. I do not know whether the civilian opinion in the House or in the country generally would produce a proper Commission of Inquiry to examine into the matter. I should have no objection as a civilian to take part in the deliberations of such a body, but before I did so I should cease to be First Lord of the Admiralty. I am, however, convinced that a certain amount of professional experience besides that of civilian experts would be required to conduct such an inquiry.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
I said I would refer the question of justice or injustice to any impartial body of civilians.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
That question must depend largely on the experience of naval officers. People who take up a grievance always believe that justice is on their side. There is no general standard of justice. It is frequently the victory in the contest between rival sides. But that is only a suggestion of the hon. Member. I wish to say at once that, while I am most anxious to deal with the marines in a manner perfectly satisfactory to them, so long as I am First Lord of the Admiralty I will not undertake to hand over to any body of inquiry a great question of discipline affecting any part of the forces I represent. I am certain it will not do to have any such inquiry into 1488 a matter of discipline. My hon. and gallant friend the Member for Great Yarmouth has made two speeches with reference to the marines. If I were a marine I think I should prefer to trust my case to some less enthusiastic advocate than the hon. and gallant Member, because he allows himself to be carried away with enthusiasm.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I do not think the hon. and gallant Member could exaggerate the extent of his knowledge. In a speech he made the other night my hon. and gallant friend found fault with me because I alluded in my statement to the present standard of the Marines; but surely this is a matter of interest that the public would like to know. The standard of the Guards is 5 ft. 7 in., that of the Marines is 5 ft. 7½ in., so that, notwithstanding the grievances of the marines and the alleged injustice under which they suffer, I am glad to say that not only have we secured all the recruits we desired in the past year, but we have been able to raise the standard a half-inch beyond the standard of the Guards. Asregards the Royal Marine Light Infantry, we have been able to maintain the standard at 5 ft. 7 in. I hope this great corps will still be a popular corps. Though certain disadvantages have been picked out here and there, still the advantages connected with it are such that men will still be attracted to this branch of the service. The marines are as numerous, as well trained, and I believe, on the whole, as contented, to judge by the number of men who flock to the ranks, as they have been at any time.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am glad my hon. and gallant friend has alluded to that point, because it is one of the most curious incidents in the natural history of grievances that, while it is pointed out that marine officers have so few hopes and so little future, we are getting as fine (and, indeed, a, finer) set of young fellows to enter the marine service as we have ever 1489 done. When the examinations take place at Woolwich and Sandhurst we have great satisfaction in seeing how many officers volunteer for the marines. I will frankly say, however, it is undoubtedly a weak point in the marine service that there are so few commands for the senior officers. I feel that. The great difficulty is how to remedy it. But can we remedy it by taking over the coaling stations? That is one panacea—to revolutionise the whole system in order to find a few more commands for a certain number of marine officers. To do that it would be necessary so much to increase the force of the marines that possibly the proportion of commands to the number of officers would not be so much greater than at present. I have resisted this new principle, and shall continue to do so. It is said, Why not increase the marines by 10,000 men? But should we then be able to keep up the present high standard? I want to keep the numbers of the marines within such limits that there shall be no deterioration in the physique of the men, and that we shall be able to continue to point to the marines as one of the finest forces in the country. I have not seen the remedy, but whenever it is in the power of the Admiralty to do anything in order to secure military employment for the lieutenant-colonels, the majors, and the higher officers in the marine service, I shall look upon it as a paramount duty to further such appointments as far as I can. Whenever the services of marine officers are asked for other departments—and they are often asked for in Egypt, at the Cape, and at home—
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The Navy cannot employ a lieutenant-colonel. There are no employments for lieutenant-colonels of the marines beyond those which exist at our ports. The Navy has no higher employment for them, and I do not know how they can have unless by revolutionising the whole system of the corps. Things being as they are, however, certainly every effort ought to be made, if not by the Navy, yet by the Army, to secure employment for them. That is a thing I have very much at heart, and when I saw the necessity in the country generally for officers I immediately placed myself in communication with the War Office to secure immediate employ- 1490 ment for a number of officers of high rank in the marines in the Army. I only mention that to show that, so far from being indifferent to the claims of the marines, the Admiralty are anxious to do all they can, without breaking up the present system, to show their appreciation of the officers of the corps. I pass to a different part of the subject. From the observations that have been made in some quarters, it is thought that the marines have no representation at the Admiralty; but they have the Deputy-Adjutant-General, and if hon. Members think that this officer cannot see the First Lord when he desires they are very much mistaken. I shall always be glad to hear from any representative of the marines what their grievances are and what they desire should be done. In no department at the Admiralty is there any difficulty of direct access either to the First Lord or to the Lords of the Admiralty. I always encourage the representatives of every great body belonging to the Admiralty to be absolutely frank in their statements, and to communicate with the First Lord whenever they desire to do so. I now turn to the argument of my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Great Yarmouth. I cannot help regretting that in order to make good his case the hon. and gallant Member selected two individual cases of officers, one in the Marines and one in the Navy, in order, as it were, to run the claim of one against the other.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
I introduced the cases in order to illustrate the different kinds of training and fitness for special work. A Marino Artillery officer and a naval lieutenant might meet each other in the presence of the enemy on shore, but the one by training is superior to the other.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
But how did the hon. and gallant Member select his ease? Why in regard to the Navy he took what he himself calls the weakest case he could possibly find.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. Member selected the highest case on the side of the marines and the weakest case on the side of the Navy, with the object of contrasting the training of the two men. He did not mention the name, but he has said enough to tell anyone who the man 1491 was. But why did the hon. Member not select a gunnery lieutenant? The comparison is not only utterly unjust, hut it is calculated to mislead the House, because the case put forward is an exceptional case. The most substantial part of my hon. friend's argument, however, is that no naval officers and no bluejackets ought to have been landed until every marine and every marine officer on board ship had been exhausted. If that course had been taken it would not only have been a terrible disappointment to everyone connected with the Navy, but to the country at large. The country has been glad to see the bluejackets on shore. Comparisons are odious, and it pains me to have to meet some of the points my hon. friend has brought forward. But there is no doubt that even on shore, whether they have or have not technical knowledge of land warfare, the bluejacket, wherever he had been, has distinguished himself, and has shown that he is a worthy man to fight on shore side by side with the soldier. I do not for a moment depreciate the value of the marines or their officers; but it is a matter of history that in the Crimean War, in the Indian Mutiny, and in Egypt the bluejacket on shore has secured the admiration of all military officers.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes, but my hon. friend would not have landed one of them; he wanted to leave them fretting in their ships while men were going to the front, and he little understands the temper of the bluejacket when he says this, for they would have felt it with an equal degree of intensity if they had been left out, especially when the Army authorities asked for a Naval Brigade. The authorities did not ask specially for the marines for the guns; they asked for what is known in history as a Naval Brigade, bluejackets as well as marines. My hon. friend thought that the safety of the ships was jeopardised——
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
Because the ships depend for their seagoing ability upon having certain naval officers and a certain number of seamen, and no more are carried in a ship than are necessary for its sea efficiency. There are no more naval officers than are necessary, and therefore I say that if you diminish by sending on shore any proportion of these naval officers and men you are crippling the ships for their seagoing business.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. and gallant Member says by doing this we are crippling our ships for their seagoing business. At that moment we were not at war—[Opposition laughter.]—why do hon. Members opposite laugh? At that moment if we had been at war with a sea Power, and if an idea had prevailed that a hostile fleet would sweep down upon us, then the case would have been different. As a general rule, and in ordinary circumstances, I should be reluctant to see many officers and men taken out of their ships. A certain amount of pressure has been exercised in order to secure that too many men and officers should not go to the front; but the circumstances in the early stages of the war were absolutely exceptional. The hon. Member asks about the cases of the "Terrible" and the "Powerful." The "Terrible" was going out to China, and the "Powerful" was coming home. When the emergency arose it was thought to be wise to let them go to the Cape on their way. They arrived in the nick of time. The "Powerful" came from Mauritius, having there embarked half a battalion, and carried the men to Durban, where they were most welcome. Then the ship went to the Cape, and matters had become more and more serious when the "Terrible" arrived on her way to China. The military and local authorities asked that the vessels should be detained. The Admiralty were anxious for them to proceed to their stations; but in view of their large crews and the large number of guns which they carried, the local authorities regarded them as a protection, and that protection they had not yet been willing to forego.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes, and the Admiralty will localise the Fleet when it is necessary. The high-level principles of the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not 1493 allow the Navy to lend a hand to the Army in an emergency. According to the hon. and gallant Member's scientific principles of Imperial defence, these ships would be at home or in China.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Then the hon. Member would wish them to stay where they were and wait till the marines landed had returned; Captain Lambton should not have gone to Ladysmith, and Captain Scott should not have become commandant at Durban.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. Member has said over and over again that the naval officers ought not to be landed until all the marines had been sent.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
The point which the right hon. Gentleman is missing is that the first question for consideration is the efficiency and readiness for sea of Her Majesty's ships.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
That is the high-level doctrine, but it is not the doctrine which any Government or Admiralty would follow when the country is in need of seamen. According to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, Captain Lambton would not have taken his guns up to Ladysmith just in the nick of time.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
I said that a subaltern of marine infantry and a detachment of marine infantry were quite equal to that work, and that the ship should not have been deprived of her captain and several naval officers to do the work of a marine officer.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The captain is the officer to whom the men look for orders; it is he who puts all the "go" into the ship; it is he who is trusted by the men on shore and by the military authorities; it is he who can say, "I will take those guns up, railway or no railway, and they shall be there in time." A sub-lieutenant of marines, notwithstanding his science, could not have done that which has been done by the naval officers. The captain of the ship is the man to whom everyone looks in an emergency; he it is who knows every man in the ship—marines as well as seamen. As to the argument that the ships were rendered not efficient to go to sea, there was no probability of 1494 their being required to do so. I agree that the hon. and gallant Member's doctrine is good doctrine, but it is not applicable in the particular case. There was no enemy within 7,000 miles. I will frankly admit that if there were a war elsewhere, if there were hostile cruisers about, and a chance of the ships being required to act, then, strong as the desire of the officers and the bluejackets might be to assist the troops on shore, I should endeavour to put a restraining hand upon that desire, because their ships would be the proper place for them. The hon. and gallant Member has asked for a declaration of policy on my part; that is the declaration. In all cases the interests of the ships must be considered first. In the case of the South African war that consideration did not arise; and it would be a great disappointment to the Navy if they did not get some chance, on these occasions, to emulate the deeds of William Peel in the Indian Mutiny or of the Naval Brigade in the Crimea. While I make some concessions to the hon. and gallant Member, I hope the hon. and gallant Member will make some concession to the spirit and traditions of the Navy, and not insist that they should remain at port doing nothing, though they see their friends and comrades going to the front, and though they know that they can handle the guns as well as the marines, and that they would be welcomed by the troops. As to the regulations on the subject, a great deal is loft, and must be left, to the Admiral on the spot. The Admiral must decide whether marines or bluejackets, or both, and in what proportions, shall go to the front. No regulations can be issued which will bind the Admiral as to details. I would point out in answer to another question which has been put to me that as regards general instructions as to sea or shore there is this difficulty—it is half shore and half sea. Every expedition differs so much in character that it is very difficult for us to lay down any general principle to guide the Admirals in every case. I frankly say that it is a pleasure to me when some responsibility can be placed on marine officers. Although, apparently, a senior officer was afterwards appointed to the Naval Brigade, I am glad that Major Marchant was appointed to the command of the force on the Modder River, and I know that both 1495 bluejackets and marines heartily approve of the course that was taken in that case. My hon. and gallant friend thought that on the whole, though he did not exactly say so, it is the marine artillerists who are more scientific than the naval gunners.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I feel regret at having to speak at all on the subject of comparisons, but I would point out to my hon. and gallant friend that it was a naval officer who invented the gun carriage for the shore guns. According to my hon. and gallant friend, Captain Percy Scott ought to have remained on board the "Powerful" looking after men who had got nothing to do because they were not going to sea, and ought not to have interfered with the business on shore. Both portions of the service are deserving of every admiration on the part of the country; they fought well together, and there is much less jealousy either on board a man-of-war or on shore than one would think from the speeches we have heard. Moreover, hon. Members speak as if the position of the marine has gone back; but the position of the marine in the esteem of his brother officers, and on board a man-of-war, has improved. I hope that will continue, and I hope we may still be able to secure the services of such admirable young officers as I am glad to say we are getting. I have the position of the marines deeply at heart. But it is an extremely difficult matter. I do not wish to offer the Committee any promises or vague words in order to gain applause or persuade anybody from giving the vote that he would like to give, because I see difficulties in every direction. But I will continue to give my attention to the general question of the marines with pleasure, although I cannot pledge myself to any particular measure or to any such wide revolutionary change as has been sketched out by my hon. friend the Member for West Belfast.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
I thought I had a case, but I am certain of it now. I really never did hear from a Minister so extraordinary a defence as the right hon. Gentleman has stated here to-night. There were very few hon. Members, in the House who listened to the speech of 1496 my hon. and gallant friend, but I challenge those who heard that speech to say that the right hon. Gentleman has met in any degree the statements which were made. With all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I must say that he has said a great deal which I feel is "playing to the gallery." The right hon. Gentleman has not made in one single particular an answer to the gravamen of the charge we brought against the Admiralty. The right hon. Gentleman says that he is responsible for the discipline of the Navy, and he does his work exceedingly well; but he asks us to go a little further, for he says that he cannot be shaken in his view about the discipline of the Navy by anything that has been said outside.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
I ask the Committee to look at the facts as they are. Look at the cases we have had before us in this House over and over again. Take the case of the engineers. They have great and powerful organisations and influence outside, and the engineering trade is a great organised force, and what happens? Why, session after session we have had concessions made to them by the Admiralty. And why? Is it because the engineers ask for them? Not a bit of it. Is it because the Admiralty are anxious to do them some service? Possibly that may be the case; but does anybody in this Committee believe that if these powerful organisations had not brought pressure to bear on the Admiralty, concession after concession would have been made to the engineering branch? Take, for instance, the Medical Service in the Navy. They also have great outside influences. There are the great organisations of the medical profession, which are ably represented in this House, and which are powerfully represented in the country, with the result that year after year we have seen the status of the medical profession in the Navy improve, and their complaints have been attended to. My right hon. friend says he resents these comparisons. That is a very fair statement, no doubt, but he assumes that you start from an equality. There are some 35,000 in the competent ranks of the Navy, and 18,500 in the competent ranks of the Royal Marines, but am I to be told that the power of influencing the 1497 Government at the disposal of the Royal Marines and the naval branches of Her Majesty's service are equal? We know they are not. There are seventy-three admirals, thirty-five of whom are on the active list; all of them are men of high social position, and who doubtless deserve the influence they possess, but their pleadings are on behalf of the Navy. The Royal Marines are without a voice to plead for them. They have no organisations similar to those of the engineers or the medical profession, and they have no social influence such as that which is prominent in this country on behalf of the Army and on behalf of the naval branch of the service. They have no representative on the Admiralty board.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
The right hon. Gentleman says he has seen this gentleman. I have seen him too. I have seen the office he sits in. I have compared the comfortable throne on which my right hon. friend sits in his handsomely furnished room at the Admiralty which is his due—and I have compared it with the dismal "two-pair-back" in Northumberland Avenue in which the Adjutant General of the Marines is compelled to transact his business. I say there is no comparing the social rank and influence of the Adjutant General and the occupants of the Admiralty. The First Lord said that when the Adjutant General comes into his office he is received with the courtesy he gives to everyone. I am sure of that, and that the representatives of the stokers, the engineers, and of the "sick bay stewards" would be received with the same courtesy; but that is a mere trifling with the subject.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
The right hon. Gentleman says that what I am stating is mere talk; but I maintain that the First Lord is in an absolutely and totally different position from this non-combatant and only general of a force of 18,500 men—he is, it appears, the correlative and equivalent of thirty-five admirals out of seventy-three 1498 on the active list, and the equivalent of the multitudinous generals in the Army. It is trifling with the Committee and the public to say that that officer comes to him with the same weight of authority as is possessed by any of the high officers in the engineering or naval branches of the Navy. I have not had a reply yet to the very simple query I put, whether it is reasonable to suppose that a service can be satisfactory with the prospect held out to the Royal Marines. Take any other profession in the world— the business man, the clergyman, the soldier, the sailor, the tinker, or the tailor— the man who enters these professions has the possibility of rising to the top; but the Royal Marines is the one branch of Her Majesty's Services in which there is no chance whatever of rising to the top. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that he is very charitable to the marines, and that if he can induce the Colonial Office or the War Office to offer them appointments he will give them testimonials.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I want to give the marines as full opportunity for employment as possible. Will my right hon. friend tell us whether he wants to put a lieutenant-colonel of marines as captain of a war-ship? I know there are capable men in the Royal Marines, and I have told the hon. Gentleman that I would help them, not to get rid of them, but with a wish to serve them.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
I recognise the right hon. Gentleman's good wishes, but surely he has given his whole case away in the very statement he has made. I want him to give the Royal Marine officers the same opportunities as are offered to any other officers in Her Majesty's Service. The First Lord says that he wants to do them a good turn and that he recommends them to the Admiralty for employment on the staff in India and for posts in the colonies. I say that is an accident of the system, and is outside the system, and that you must alter the system to better the result. It is not the eternal law of nature that officers commanding 18,500 troops should be debarred from any advancement in their profession. You may allow them to become gunnery inspectors, 1499 as they used to be; members of the Ordnance Committee, or to take charge of naval stations abroad. But that is not my point. If you encourage a system which is radically unsound you can only have unsound fruit from that system, and I cannot admit that there is anything eternal in an unjust system. No, Sir, I am not content with the right hon. Gentleman's explanation. I feel strongly about this question, not because I am disloyal in any way to the administration of the Navy, but because I hold that it is in the interest of the Navy and of the nation that this state of things should be altered. My right hon. friend laughs at me. I do not regard his gibes about my talking of principles which I said were eternal. He said they were not eternal; but I do think there is a certain elementary concession which should be made to what is just and fair in all professions. I appeal to the common sense of the House when I say that there is no class of professional men whose members would be content with the professional outlook of the officers of the Royal Marines. No other officers in Her Majesty's Service would be content, or ought to be content, with the humiliation to which the Royal Marine officers are subjected by not being allowed to sit on a court-martial in which their own men and brother-officers are put upon their trial, and being debarred from the prizes of their own profession. I put aside all the trimmings of the right hon. Gentleman's address, and maintain that when his reply is examined in a cold, scientific light, that reply absolutely crumbles away. I do not think he considered rightly, or read carefully, what has been said by my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Great Yarmouth. It is very rarely that any expression of opinion in regard to the position and prospects of the Royal Marines is ever heard in this House; but by a series of accidents and chances I have been able to make myself familiar with what is passing in the minds of many officers in the Royal Marine force; and with that knowledge in my mind I could not forbear taking this opportunity of putting their case before the Committee. I have the greatest possible confidence in the goodwill of the right hon. Gentleman, and I am sure when he said he would give a helping hand to a stray marine officer, he meant it; but if it is true that the Navy cannot employ the officers of the Royal Marines; if it is 1500 true that the present system excludes them from the prizes of their profession, then I maintain that you must alter that system.
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES () Lynn Regis
We must not take the hon. Member for West Belfast too seriously. I have listened to his long and interesting, but, as I thought, not very relevant speech, and as he went on I sympathised with him more and more. The First Lord has replied to him, and an admiral has interrupted him; and if that is not enough to put the hon. Member for West Belfast out of, temper, I do not know what would. His case, so far as I could understand it through the multitude of words in which it was enshrouded, was this; that a marine officer has a grievance because he cannot hope to rise to the top of his profession, which I understand to be a lieutenant-colonel sitting on a stool in a "second-floor-back" in Northumberland Avenue. But the hon. Member knows a man who has risen to the top of his profession; he has scon him; he has talked with him, and therefore it is not the fact that a marine officer cannot rise to the top of his profession. It is a mistake to suppose that people will not enter a profession unless they hope to rise to the top. Does the hon. Gentleman himself expect to become the Leader of the House? He does not; yet he stays in the House, and is an ornament to it. We are very proud of having him here, and at times we listen to his disquisitions on the eternal unfitness of things with some interest, and even with some impatience. Now, the hon. Gentleman complains that the Royal Marines were not landed in South Africa to take part in the war; but they have been landed. And of all the troops engaged in the war there are none who have so distinguished themselves as the gallant corps of Royal Marines, which at the battle of Graspan lost half their number and two-thirds of their officers in storming the hill. If there is a grievance at all, it is that the First Lord has not got the permission of Lord Methuen or Sir Redvers Buller to publish the despatch relating to the gallant action of the marines at Graspan, and which he has got in his pocket.
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Then will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to publish it? The right hon. Gentleman 1501 knows that he sent that despatch to me in confidence, and if he will permit me I will send it to The Times to-morrow. That is the only grievance that the hon. Member for West Belfast has got. Surely the hon. Gentleman knows that Her Majesty's Navy is composed of ships, and that these ships must be commanded by naval officers; and if it is necessary to have marines on hoard, these are only an auxiliary force, and must he there under the naval officers. But that does not, make their position intolerable. A marine officer is most valuable, but, like every housemaid, he must be kept in his place; and I am sure that his place is not on the bridge, or on a court-martial. I do not think that any injustice is done to the marines, and there are any amount of gentlemen who go into the marine service and distinguish themselves. I do not believe there is anything like the widespread dissatisfaction which we are always hearing of from the hon. Gentleman among the marine officers at all; and I think that the First Lord has very completely, perhaps too completely, answered the case, and dwelt too much on the great storm in the teacup raised by the hon. Member. I heard the protest of my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Great Yarmouth, who stated his case with considerable ability, and I heard that case also set forth at very considerable length by the hon. Member for West Belfast, and I confess that I am unable to see any real tangible grievance which the marine officers have to complain of. I have been on battleships, and have heard as much grumbling from the naval officers as from the marine officers. I know that the marine officers get better treated at an early age than the naval officer's; they have not to say their prayers and do their washing in public. My belief is that the marine officers have fewer grievances than the naval officers; and I cannot help thinking that my hon. friend does them an ill-service in coming to this House and complaining of the ungovernable tyranny of the First Lord, and invoking in their name abstract justice, which I believe to be equally inapplicable to the marine officer as to his other professional brothers.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
I think every hon. member of the Committee will say that I am entitled to a reply. I am quite satisfied with the debate. I am sure that if anybody will take the trouble to read what has been said to- 1502 night on the one side and the other, he must come to the conclusion that my right hon. friend the First Lord had no case, or he would have made better points than he did in his reply. In the first place, he has put into a subordinate position my main contention, which is, that in the absence of any principle in the Admiralty regulations, the ships of Her Majesty's Navy are imperilled by the practice of sending those of their complements on shore who can be least spared from the ships, and leaving aboard those who can be best spared. I should have thought that the First Lord, who is responsible for the Navy, would have regarded that as I have regarded it, as the vital point of the question. The grievances of marine officers are not, in public importance, to be compared with that broad fact. The right hon. Gentleman has never denied that the ships were made inefficient by landing these numerous naval officers and seamen instead of marines. His case is that there was no enemy, or that if there had been an enemy, he would have been 7,000 miles off. Would he? Were there not foreign cruisers in the Indian Ocean at the time, and in the South Atlantic? And what use would Her Majesty's ship "Powerful" have been, with her captain and her combative officers locked up in Ladysmith and elsewhere, if European complications had arisen, and these foreign cruisers had swooped down on our South African ships?
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
If that is so I hope my right hon. friend will not object to give a Return showing the complement of the "Powerful" and "Terrible," and the rest of the squadron, and the condition it was in at different dates. I cannot understand how marine officers specially qualified for service on shore were sent on board ship and young naval officers were despatched to the front. My right hon. friend says that the naval officers and seamen could not stand being cooped up on board ship while their comrades went to the front. But have the marine officers and men not the same feelings as the naval officers and seamen? Were the marine officers and marines of the "Terrible" not cooped up in the ship while their comrades went to the front? I am absolutely and entirely satisfied with the debate, and I conside 1503 that my case has been made out so clearly to the Committee that I will not put the Committee to the trouble to go to a division, and I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY
Before this Vote is taken, there is one suggestion which I should like to bring to the attention of my right hon. friend, and that is as to an improvement in the condition of the stokers. It is very satisfactory to note from the statement of my right hon. friend that the increase in the Navy which he desired has practically been made, but he will not deny that there is a certain difficulty in getting a sufficient and adequate supply of stokers. The stoking branch of the Navy is one of ever increasing importance, especially by reason of the greater complexity of the Belleville boilers. My right hon. friend himself will be the first to admit that the complexity of this improved machinery requires considerably greater skill on the part of the stokers, and also greater training to make them efficient. No improvement in the position of the stokers in the Navy has been made for a very considerable time. When bluejackets after twelve years service reengage, they receive an increase in pay amounting to 2d. per day. No such increase or any corresponding advantage is given to stokers, and the suggestion that I would make, for the consideration of the Admiralty, is that stokers should have the same advantages as bluejackets. They are drilled to make hemselves useful on deck, and they are rained also to take upon themselves in time of need the duties of bluejackets, and in every respect a stoker is as efficient a unit in a ship's company as a seaman, and if the same advantages were given to both it would be an additional attraction and would be a very substantial inducement to recruits to join this particular class. There are also considerations in connection with the engineers which have not yet been mentioned, and which I think deserve the attention of the Admiralty. Formerly a chief engineer was able to retire at the age of fifty. Now a man may obtain lucrative civilian employment at fifty years of age, whereas he may be quite unable to obtain it if he leaves Her Majesty's Service at the age of fifty-five. The age of optional retirement 1504 was raised from fifty years to fifty-five a few years ago, when difficulties were experienced in obtaining a sufficient number of engineers. The age has since been reduced to fifty-three, and I would urge on my right hon. friend the advantage of further reducing it to fifty, because it would increase the flow of promotion and would make the service far more attractive by holding forth to engineers the prospect of optional retirement at such an age as would enable them to take lucrative civilian employment. The last point I wish to mention is in connection with Keyham College. The officer in charge of it is usually one who is about to retire, and the position is regarded in the service as one preliminary to retirement. Having regard to the importance of that training college for young engineers about to enter Her Majesty's Fleet, I do urge that the class of officer who should be placed in charge of it is not a man whose career of active service is about to close, but a man who has the best part of his career before him, who has a future to look forward to, and who would regard this important educational appointment as a stepping stone to even a more important position in Her Majesty's Service. The officer should be of the rank of post captain rather than of the rank of commander. If this reform were accepted by the Admiralty I think it would do much to inspirit the students and impart to them that energy which is so desirable, having regard to the very important positions which they are destined to fill in Her Majesty's Service. I hope these suggestions, made in a very loyal spirit to the Admiralty—suggestions which do not emanate solely from myself, but which I happen to know are regarded in the service as important—will receive the attention which, in my opinion, they rightly deserve.
§ MR. FENWICK () Northumberland, Wansbeck
Before this Vote is taken, there are one or two matters which I wish to bring to the attention of the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty. Last year I called attention to the grievances of the engine-room artificers. I admit of late something has been done to improve their status, by granting them the opportunity of qualifying as warrant officers, but the number is still very small, and the opportunities of promotion open to these very efficient men are very few indeed. Under the regulations, as they now stand, a man 1505 must be thirty-five years of age and have eleven years confirmed service before he is entitled to qualify for the post of warrant officer. I take it that it is the desire of the Admiralty to attract young men to this very important branch of the Navy. Suppose a young man enters this particular branch at the age of twenty-one, he may have thirteen years confirmed service, but not having reached thirty-five, he is unable, under the regulations, to qualify for the position of warrant officer; whereas another man, who enters the service three years later and is older, is entitled to qualify for the position of warrant officer after eleven years service. This constitutes a very serious grievance among the engine-room artificers in the service, and I think that it is a very reasonable request on their part that any man, irrespective of age, who has ten years confirmed service to his credit, should be entitled to qualify for the position of warrant officer. I hope something in this direction will be done, in order to satisfy a very intelligent part of the service. Another thing they are justly entitled to claim is that better mess accommodation should be provided for them. I had an opportunity recently of going over some of the vessels in the Navy, and certainly the room in which these men met for mess was not fit for any human being. It was an open box like a horse-box, with a coal-shute running down the centre, and when coal was being taken in, tables had to be removed and the coal shot down through the centre of the very place where the men had to take their food. It is unreasonable to expect that men in the position of engine-room artificers should have to put up with such a condition of things as that. I hope the First Lord of the Admiralty will be able to see his way to give attention to these two grievances. Again, I am sure that the engine-room artificers who are entitled to leave the service would, if inducements were offered to them, gladly continue in it. No doubt there is great difficulty in getting men of such experience and ability as those men have, and it would be well if some slight inducement was offered to them to continue in the service. I hope we shall have a reply on these matters.
§ MR. KEARLEY
The statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty set forth that recruiting generally was very satisfactory, and that he expected that the total number would be probably reached 1506 by the end of the financial year. I would wish to know how the scheme introduced last year, whereby apprentices were entered to be specially trained for naval shipwrights, is working. Last year 150 entries were provided for, and this year it is contemplated entering 320 more. I have searched the Estimates very carefully to endeavour to find out how many of the 150 asked for last year have been secured, and I must confess, owing to the way in which the matter is set out, it is very difficult to find out the exact number. Personally, I do not think that more than twenty were secured, but perhaps the hon. Gentleman would give us the exact figure, and then we could form an idea of the possibility of securing 320 more. I note that some concession is to be made to that very deserving class, the naval domestics, though no details are given. I feel bound to bring up again the question of chief petty officers' pensions. This question was pressed very strongly by Lord Charles Beresford, who spoke, of course, with great authority on it, and I think an undertaking was given that the matter would be considered.
§ MR. KEARLEY
I know when the right hon. Gentleman says he will consider a question he really means that he will consider it, and I should be glad to know what decision has been come to. I desire to associate myself with the appeal which has been made with regard to the stokers. Not only are they the worst paid, but they are the hardest worked. They do not get the concessions which seamen get on re-engaging, nor do they get the progressive pay of the seamen's branch. I think the time has come when all these matters might be considered. I should also like to know, without going into any detail, whether a decision has been come to as to giving warrant officers improved fleet rank.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
With regard to the question of the re-engagement of stokers, there is nothing in the circumstances of the case to induce the Admiralty to depart from the decision which was communicated to the House on a previous occasion. As to the desirability of the earlier retirement of engineer officers, I quite agree with my hon. friend that it might be desirable from the personal point of view of the engineer officers in order to secure for themselves positions in civil life, but at the same 1507 time we have to consider the absolute requirements of the service, and I am afraid it is at present impossible to hold out any hope that the Admiralty can assent to an earlier retirement, though I am sure the question is not absent from the minds of the Admiralty, and that they would be disposed to look upon it in a more favourable light if an opportunity occurred. Then with regard to the head of Key ham College I am not prepared to contradict my hon. friend in his general proposition, but I do not think it applies in all cases. I think in one or two instances officers have proceeded from Keyham College to other important positions. I can assure my hon. friend that it is the desire of the Admiralty to secure for Keyham College a naval officer in whom the utmost reliance can be placed, and who is fully qualified to carry out the duties of the position. With regard to the engine-room artificers I regret I cannot hold out any hope of the Admiralty making any alterations as to the conditions attaching to their promotion. The artificers themselves consider this to be a grievance; I suppose almost every officer in the service considers what he desires should be conceded, and is not conceded, is a grievance, but we have to consider the interests of the service, and I am unable to hold out any hope that there will be a readjustment. With regard to the mess accommodation of the engine-room artificers I do not think it is as bad as has been described by the hon. Member opposite. In some cases all ranks of officers have bad accommodation. In the newest battleships the most disagreeable accommodation is that of the flag captain, and I can assure the hon. Member that when one of Her Majesty's ships is coaling there is not a single person on board who is not inconvenienced by it. All these questions are constantly present to the Board of Admiralty, and in every possible way the convenience and comfort of every class of officers and men are attended to. With regard to the question of the apprentices, I am not able at the present moment to give the hon. Member the actual number, but I may tell him there were more candidates than vacancies, and I think I may say that the scheme has been a thorough success.
§ MR. KEARLEY
I am sorry to, interrupt the hon. Member, but they are included in the personnel of the Navy in the statement of the First Lord.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
I will give the hon. Member on Report the exact figures, which I regret I do not now recollect, but I believe that the scheme has been a success. Several important reforms have been introduced with regard to naval domestics. Their pay has been increased and they are. allowed to remain on the books of the department for three months after the ship is paid off, which gives them the advantage of almost continuous service.
§ MR. KEARLEY
I should like a reply as to the warrant officers and chief petty officers. There is no time to-night, but I hope the Leader of the House will give us half an hour to-morrow.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I wish to speak also, and I now beg to move to report progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original question again proposed: —
§ Whereupon Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report progress; and ask leave to sit again"—(Mr. Gibson Bowles)—put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again to-morrow.