§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £5,527,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expenses of Wages, &c., 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."
MR. GIBSON BOWLES () Lynn Regis
This, in my opinion, is the most important Vote we have to take in regard to the Navy; and for this simple reason, that neither our ships nor our guns nor our armour, and still less our docks and our fortifications, would be of use unless we had men to fire the guns, to man the vessels, and to defend the fortifications and docks. The question of what a man's value is depends entirely on his training, and, consequently, when you come to consider naval questions, the most important and vital part to look at, and to judge it by, is the method adopted of training. It particularly behoves us, at this moment, to pay more attention than ever to this subject. There is going to be a very large increase of the American Navy. We may, too, look to an entirely new development in the German Navy, and the future may bring about vast changes in the balance of naval power in the world. We must, therefore, look to the essential part of our naval system. That essential part is, I submit, the training of the men, and I am bound to say that, while the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty has carried out many of his duties with great success, in other directions he has, I fear, adopted the very means which an enemy of this country 1543 would have taken if he had sought to destroy the value of our Navy. Up to quite recently the system of training officers and men for the Navy (especially that of training officers) was, I should say, quite admirable. The naval officer was trained, not by sitting upon a form and listening to lectures, but by standing on deck and handling a ship. His training was not theoretical, but practical; and the result was something beyond anything that has been seen in any service in the world. The training of the boys in the Navy usually began at from fifteen to sixteen and a half years of age. They were put on board a training ship for twenty months, and then they went to sailing brigs, where they learnt to handle sails, and became more acquainted with the practical work of masts and yards. In these brigs they remained for six weeks only, which should be thirteen. That training is short enough for their preparation for the Navy; but under that system we got fairly good men, and there was never any difficulty in the number of boys to pass through that course of entering the lower deck for the Navy. Recently a new system has been adopted. First of all, let me say fifteen is not too young an age at which to take the boys; if it is anything, it is too high. Your fisherman begins at nine, ten, or eleven, and produces one of the finest seamen in the world. The right hon. Gentleman, feeling himself under the pressure of emergency, has instituted a new system, under which he sends vessels round the coasts and enlists boys at so late an age as eighteen, which is far too high an age to take a boy first to sea. No doubt if a boy is already a seaman and has already had some training at sea, there is something to be said for this system. I believe, however, the majority of these boys are inland boys who go for the first time to sea. Consequently I think this to a considerable extent impairs the personnel of the Navy so far as regards the lower deck. I regret very much the right hon. Gentleman has thought it necessary to abandon the old system of fifteen and taken eighteen.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
We have not abandoned the old system.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will tell me that 1544 when the emergency is passed he will go back to the old system and take all the boys at fifteen.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I am very glad to be able to withdraw one of the five counts of my indictment. I now come to a more serious matter, and that is the training of the officers. Up to recently the system has been to receive boys into the "Britannia" at the age of thirteen, to send them to sea at fifteen, and for them to become lieutenants at twenty. Thus they served five years at sea and two in a ship. The right hon. Gentleman has altered that system, so that the boys enter now the "Britannia" at fifteen instead of thirteen years of age. He has shortened the time in the "Britannia" very considerably—more nearly by one-half than by one-third—and the result is a boy now enters the "Britannia" at the average age of fifteen, goes to sea at sixteen and a half, and becomes a lieutenant at twenty. Under these circumstances a very large proportion of the original training time is taken off. I think that is a mistake. But, more than this. I believe the right hon. Gentleman has made an enormous mistake in substituting barracks for ships. Most of these boys who came into the "Britannia" for the first time came from inland towns, many of them have never seen a ship or walked about in one, and it is of the utmost importance that at the earliest age of the officer's career he should know enough about a ship to live on one. The right hon. Gentleman will tell me barrack boats are used; but it is a different thing to use a boat to put out from the shore from having to use it to move out of the ship. It is also said and it is true—that the "Britannia" is a very old vessel, and that she could not have gone on much longer. That is of no importance, because it is easy enough to replace her by another vessel. You cannot catch your seamen too young, men or officers, especially officers, and initiate them into the ways of ships, which are different from the ways of houses. The right hon. Gentleman has said he intends to extend the "Britannia" course again from one and a half to two years. Has he made up his mind whether that is to 1545 be done by lowering the age at which the boys are received into the "Britannia" to thirteen, or by receiving the boys at fifteen and sending them to sea later? I hope he intends to take the first of those courses. Whichever he takes, the great objection will remain—that you have turned your ship into a barrack, and, so far as the early training is concerned, it has ceased to be training as a sailor, and has begun to be training a soldier. The most serious count of all (because it affects both the men and the officers) is the abolition of the training squadron. My right hon. friend told me, the other evening, that no final decision had been arrived at with regard to the abolition of the training squadron. But in the meantime he has abolished it, he has dismantled the ships which were ready to go to sea, put them away somewhere in one of his docks, and turned the crews over to cruisers. If he is going to tell me he intends to build eight or ten new training ships, I shall applaud him with both hands, and think he has come to proper naval ideas again. But I do not see any sign of that. If there is any question whether the abolition of the training squadron is right or wrong, the business of the First Lord is to take no action until he has satisfied himself which is right or wrong. The present system has produced admirable officers, and the abolition of that system may produce officers inferior to those we have now. Does he pretend he would produce better officers by giving them less training on masts and yards? That is impossible. The argument against masts and yards is that in the Royal Navy sailors have nothing to do with anything but steam. That is not quite true. Every hand on the ship may have to take to the boats and to handle sails, more or less. The officers may have to take charge of a sailing merchantman. In a sailor's life you will never get rid of the occasional necessity of dealing with sails. What we want is the best trained men, able to deal with the greatest possible readiness with new sets of circumstances; and I maintain that nothing produces the seaman-mind so well as the work on masts and yards. The work on masts and yards teaches the men to rely upon themselves and to place reliance in their shipmates, and it gives them an athletic development and readiness of mind which nothing in the 1546 world can surpass. I do not for a moment argue that for the rest of his life, and the business he is to do, it is essential that a man should go through the training squadron. My argument is that the training squadron gives him a sort of training which nothing else can supply. I do plead most earnestly for the retention of the training squadron, but I cannot help feeling that though the right hon. Gentleman professes to be in a judicial attitude on this matter, he is rather against me.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I will give a reason why I cannot help having that feeling, and that is the fact that he has appointed Lord Charles Beresford away from this House to the Mediterranean.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Of course I did not mean that seriously, it was only a little joke. I will put it this way—that my position in defending the training squadron is very much weakened by the absence of the noble Lord, who could, doubtless, have advanced very superior arguments. There is only one other count in this indictment, but it is rather a serious one, namely, that in recent times not only have the officers put in less sea, time, but the ships themselves have spent less time at sea. That is an additional reason for desiring the retention of the training squadron. The training squadron spends sometimes as much as ninety days at sea, whereas the ordinary man of war, battleship or cruiser, rarely spends more than ten days, while the Mediterranean squadron seldom spends as much as that. I am informed that the present Mediterranean squadron is mainly engaged in steaming at full speed from one port to another.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I hope it is not so. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us what sort of evolutions the Mediterranean Squadron performs, and how long the vessels are at sea. Lord St. Vincent in 1796 wrote from Lisbon that he would not stay there a moment longer than was necessary to put his vessel to rights, as the only way to train sailors was on the sea, and the more 1547 they were kept at sea the better, and the less they were kept in port the better. I am afraid that whether our desire is to economise coal—
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman repudiates that. My information is that too little time is spent at sea by Her Majesty's ships. All these points are calculated to impair the training of the sailor. Give me a bad ship and a good crew and, if I were a naval captain, there is nothing I could not do. But a good ship and a bad crew would be useless to anybody. I wish to say a word about the instructions given to cruisers respecting contraband of war. It is of the utmost importance when we are at war that all that remains to us of our power at sea should be exercised. There have undoubtedly been some unfortunate mistakes which I can only attribute to the instructions issued to the officer's. These officers have not only searched, in the technical term, vessels suspected of carrying contraband of war, but actually unloaded the cargo, a thing which is altogether out of the cognisance and the dictates of international law. I can only attribute these proceedings to some mistake in the instructions issued by the right hon. Gentleman or to some misapprehension of those instructions on the part of the officers themselves. The results have been lamentable. We have been forced to apologise to the nations whose vessels have been improperly searched, and our officers have been discouraged from handling other vessels. Another mistake has been the instruction that vessels should not be searched anywhere except between Aden and Delagoa Bay. That is giving up almost the whole of the high seas to the runners of contraband of war. A further mistake was in saying we would not search mail steamers upon mere suspicion. That point I dealt with the other night. You may have information, but there is nothing so suspicious as information, especially when it comes from such a source as that from which came the information that misled our officers on the recent occasion—namely, the enemy. Finally, there is the undertaking that we will agree to arbitration as to the amount of compensation to be given. That is a most extraordinary interference with the Admiralty Court. To take away from 1548 the Prize Court the right always inherent in it of settling the compensation to be given where wrong has been done is a very strange and novel principle, as to which I hope we shall have some explanation. I repeat that I very much regret I made an allusion which wounded the right hon. Gentleman. I can assure him I intended it only as a little joke, but I do regret the absence of Lord Charles Beresford. I have endeavoured to express very temperately the views I very strongly entertain, because I feel that upon the training of the men of the Navy more than anything else depends the future of the Navy itself.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
My hon. friend has brought five indictments against me, and I think I can remove his impression with regard to two if not three of them. With reference to the introduction of the new system of taking somewhat older boys, I hope the point has been nearly reached when that system may be changed. At the same time I am bound to say that that system has been introduced in the Mediterranean Squadron and elsewhere, and has been extremely well reported upon. There has been no deterioration at all.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The Admiralty obtain quite as many boys as they require. My hon. friend asks me a question with reference to the "Britannia," but whatever the demerits of the system may be, it has increased very much the supply of officers at a time when the Navy has been extremely short of them. I have over and over again made inquiries of the commanders of ships when they have come back from foreign stations as to whether they have found any deterioration in the junior officers under them, and in no one case has a statement been made which supports the opinion held by my hon. friend. Generally speaking, the reports with regard to these officers have been extremely satisfactory. The system has enabled the Admiralty to introduce 180 cadets every year instead of 120, and there is always keen competition for the vacancies on the "Britannia." As to the question of a training squadron, my own impression is in favour of it; but the 1549 strange fact is this—that officers of great experience have said they cannot see any difference whatever in the men who come from a training squadron and those who do not. Three Commanders-in-Chief have taken the view that a training squadron is not necessary, and the bulk, or at all events a very large number, of the officers are not satisfied that the training squadron is necessary or that it produces better i results. I think that in a matter of this kind I ought to follow generally the authority of my naval colleagues rather than to be carried away by theoretical views of my own, even strengthened as I am by my hon. friend. Let me call the attention of my hon. friend to this fact. In the case of officers of the present day there is a kind of training which is extremely valuable to them, and which tries their nerves very effectually—I mean the training in destroyers—and the way in which many of these young officers who have not had the training my hon. friend desires handle their torpedo boats and destroyers excites the admiration of many men in the mercantile marine. Only a small proportion of the officers have gone through the training squadron, and the fact that our ships of war are able to enter foreign ports without the assistance of a pilot shows that they are able to perform their varied duties in a manner which is most creditable to the Navy. I cannot understand how the rumour has got abroad that ships are less at sea now than they used to be. I do not know to what date my hon. friend alludes, or whether he means ten years or five years ago. On the contrary, I can say with confidence that they are more, rather than less, at sea now than when I first took office. There; has been no diminution whatever, and I believe the admirals put those under them through more tactics and naval exercises than they used to do. Notwithstanding the enormous price of coal at the present time, I can assure my hon. friend that no hint has ever been given to any admiral to lessen the exercise of his ships at sea in consequence of the high price of coal. If my hon. friend looks at the Navy Estimates in regard to the consumption of coal he will be satisfied that there has been no stinting whatever in that direction. The last point touched by my hon. friend has reference to the instructions given to naval officers as regards contraband of war. Paper's on that subject will 1550 shortly be laid before the House, from which my hon. friend will be able to gather what those instructions are, and I think it will be more satisfactory that my hon. friend should refer to those Papers than that I should make a statement. Our naval officers are placed in an extremely difficult position, as well as the Foreign Office and the Admiralty; for the position is complicated by circumstances which might never again arise. Not only is this the first time for years and years when a question of contraband had arisen, but we are at war with an inland State to which access was gained from the sea through a small portion of a neutral State. This naturally has given rise to a state of things which has given some trouble in connection with the searching of ships, and I think my hon. friend will find from a perusal of the Papers that every care has been taken to prevent the consequences he fears might follow on the action of our officers.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND () Clare, E.
The other day the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty was good enough to say that a statement would be made as to the position of the Roman Catholic chaplains in the Royal Navy, and that an explanation would be given as to what is intended to be done by the Admiralty with regard to the Catholic Church in this matter. I asked a question of the First Lord of the Admiralty a few days ago on this subject,* and the reply which he gave to me led to some misunderstanding amongst those interested in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman said the Admiralty had made arrangements which had met with the approval of the; Catholic hierarchy, and practically that nothing more was to be done.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
No, I did not say that they had met with their approval, if I conveyed that impression it was not what I intended. I cannot remember the exact words which I used, but I stated that the matter had been settled in consultation with the clerical authorities.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
What the right hon. Gentleman has just stated is, to some ext:; nt, a justification of the statement which I made a moment ago that some misunderstanding exists on this*See page 371 of this volume (19 Feb.).1551 matter. The right hon. Gentleman says I he did not state that he made arrangements which had the approval of the Catholic hierarchy, but he certainly led us to understand that the arrangements which had been come to were made in consultation with the Catholic hierarchy, and consequently they were satisfactory. Such undoubtedly is not the case, because, as the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury already knows, no later than the other day a very strong statement was made on this question of Catholic chaplains in the Navy by so high an authority as Cardinal Logue in Ireland, who oven went to the length of pointing out to the parents of Catholic children in Ireland that it would be dangerous to the religion of their children if they allowed them to join the Royal Navy. I do submit that, when you have an ecclesiastic of the high authority of Cardinal Logue in Ireland making a statement calculated to discourage the Catholics of the country from joining the Navy on the ground that no provision is made for their spiritual needs and welfare, it is quite time for the Admiralty to pay serious attention to the matter. I do not propose to enter at length into the grievances of Catholics on this matter, because my hon. friend the Member for; East Mayo has over and over again placed them before the Committee. All that we claim is that Catholic chaplains in the Navy should be put on the same level as Catholic chaplains in the Army. In the Army there is no complaint whatever in this matter. Catholic chaplains have a recognised status; they hold commissions, their position is well defined, and, as far as I know, they are treated in every respect as are chaplains of other denominations. That is not the case in the Navy. Catholic chaplains are not on the same footing as Protestant chaplains, and are not given the same facilities for ministering to their co-religionists.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
It occasionally happens that a man may require religious ministration when he is not in harbour. You cannot expect a man not to want religious ministration except when he is riding at anchor. Considering the number of Catholics in the Navy, I think it is not in accordance with the spirit of the age 1552 that Catholic chaplains should not be placed on an equality with the chaplains of other denominations. I am much interested to hear the answer of the hon. Gentleman the Civil Lord of the Admiralty, because on it will depend whether my hon. friend the Member for East Mayo will take further action in this matter.
§ THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN,) Worcestershire, E.
When this question was discussed on previous occasions, my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Admiralty expressed his sympathy with the views put forward on behalf of Roman Catholics in the Navy, and his great anxiety to meet them as far as possible. The subject is one of very considerable difficulty, as I think the hon. Member himself will be prepared to acknowledge. I have not, however, risen for the purpose of referring again to the old difficulty, but rather to tell the hon. Member what we have done. We have been in communication with certain authorities of the Roman Catholic Church, with a view to arranging a more satisfactory method for meeting the religious needs of Roman Catholic officers and men.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
Have you been in consultation with the Irish hierarchy as well as with the English hierarchy?
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
No, Sir; we have had no direct communication with the Irish hierarchy. It is one of the difficulties of dealing satisfactorily with this question, and it appears to be very difficult to find any central authority empowered to speak for the Roman Catholic Church. We have tried to deal with the Roman Catholics in the same spirit and as far as possible in the same way as we have dealt with the Wesleyans and the Presbyterians. In the case of the Wesleyans we were much assisted by the fact that they have an association with a permanent secretary, who was able to keep us fully informed as to their views, and with whom we were able to arrange. I wish there were some similar Roman Catholic association whose views would be binding over the whole Roman Catholic Church, and who would have authority to 1553 speak for it. No little part of our difficulty has been that after we had arranged to meet the views of what we believed to be the highest authorities of the Roman Catholic Church in England, we found other authorities claiming the right to speak in respect of particular cases, and who did not consider themselves bound by the opinions of the authorities we had consulted.
§ DR. FOX () King's County, Tullamore
Do not the vast majority of the Catholic sailers in the Navy come from Ireland?
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Yes; but the hon. Member will see that in order to deal freely and fully with this matter it is important, if possible, that the persons representing the Roman Catholic Church should have easy access to the Admiralty and that the Admiralty should have easy access to them. Unfortunately we cannot find in Ireland an authority to whom that would apply. We have no desire to exclude the views of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland from our consideration, but from the circumstances of the case the communications, often verbal, must be made and the decision arrived at in London. Now, what we have endeavoured to do is to give fixed allowances to Roman Catholic priests for ministering to the Fleet at all our principal depots throughout the world. We have arranged twenty-one of these fixed allowances, varying from £200 in the case of each of our three great home depots—Portsmouth, Devonport, and Chatham—and also Malta, down to £25, which is really only a grant-in-aid given to Army chaplains for receiving Roman Catholics from the Fleet at their services. The chaplains at Portsmouth and Devonport begin at £175 a year, rising after five years to £200. They are established officers, and when they retire they will receive a pension on the ordinary conditions. The chaplains at Chatham and Malta are paid on the same scale, but are not entitled to pensions. Altogether there are four allowances of from £175 to £200, four of £100, three of £75, five of £50, and smaller grants. Where no fixed allowance is given, the Roman Catholic chaplain is paid for the services he renders to the men of the Fleet in proportion to the number of men to whom he ministers, and if the service is a special service for 1554 the men of the Fleet a further special payment is made. I think, therefore, the hon. Member will see that we have done our best to meet the wishes and needs of Roman Catholics in the Fleet. We have proceeded on exactly the same lines as in the case of the Wesleyans and Presbyterians, except that the grants to Roman Catholics are more numerous than the grants to either the Wesleyans or the Presbyterians, and even more numerous than to the two combined.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
Is not the complaint that there are no Catholic chaplains on board ships in the Navy left unmet? May I ask if the rank of the Catholic chaplains is the same as that of the Protestant chaplains?
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, Sir, it is perfectly true that the question of Roman Catholic chaplains with the Fleet at sea is left untouched. That is another branch of the subject. On previous occasions my right hon. friend stated his anxiety to do what he could, but at the same time he pointed out the difficulties in the way. We cannot undertake to find accommodation on board our ships for Presbyterian, Wesleyan, and Roman Catholic chaplains. The proportion of Roman Catholics in the Navy is about eight per cent., that of Wesleyans about six per cent., and that of Presbyterians something less. Roman Catholic officers in the Navy would be the first to admit that it is impossible to make arrangements by which Roman Catholic chaplains should be borne on a ship's books or be accommodated on board ship at sea. Arrangements might be made for Roman Catholic priests to accompany or follow the fleets, and remain at the places where the fleets have a station, so as to be handy for service. We did that in the Mediterranean last year, and though the results were not all that could have been desired, I hope that they will be satisfactory next year. The Hon. Member alluded to a pastoral which Cardinal Logue issued the other day, a notice of which I admit I saw in the newspapers with the most profound regret. I cannot but hope that the Cardinal, seeing the attempt which the Board of Admiralty has made to meet the wishes of his church, will see fit to withdraw the opinion he has expressed. I can only say that if that opinion were to be 1555 widely followed throughout the southwest of Ireland, and if the result was that the recruits now obtained from that part of the country ceased to join the Navy, the Admiralty would of necessity have to withdraw the training ship from Queenstown, just as on a previous occasion the training ship "Ganges" had been withdrawn from another port when the Navy ceased to obtain any number of local recruits there. I think that the pastoral of the Cardinal must have been issued under a misunderstanding, and having regard to the spirit in which the Admiralty has striven to meet the wishes of the Roman Catholics, and the fact that at any rate the department has made a considerable advance on recent practice in the direction the hon. Member desires, I trust we shall not hear of any more demonstrations of this kind.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
The statement of the hon. Gentleman is extremely interesting, and shows that some sort of attempt has been made to deal with the Roman Catholic seamen, but the last part of his statement will be received with great dissatisfaction in Ireland; because it means that unless the claim which the Roman Catholics have made through Cardinal Logue is withdrawn, unless Roman Catholic seamen are satisfied to enter the Navy under conditions which they think unfair to their religion, then the training ship will be withdrawn.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon; I cannot allow that interpretation of my words. I said I hoped that Cardinal Logue would see the propriety of withdrawing his ruling that Roman Catholic parents would not be justified in allowing their children to enter the Navy. The hon. Member himself will see, and Cardinal Logue will see, that if recruits are to be withdrawn it would be useless to keep a training ship at Queenstown.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
The hon. Gentleman will acquit me of any desire to misinterpret him, but his statement just now, to my mind, amounts to what I said. What did he mean but that unless the claim we made through Cardinal Logue was relinquished the training ship would be withdrawn? Speaking as the first authority and head 1556 of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Logue has simply said that, if he mistook not, Protestants had their chaplains on each ship, while a Roman Catholic chaplain did not even accompany the squadron. The result was that Catholic sailors were left without spiritual guidance, that they might live as they pleased, and die as if they were not Christians; and this might account for the fact that so few Catholics were found in the Navy. The Cardinal added in his pastoral that if Roman Catholic parents permitted their boys to join the Navy before this want was remedied, they would be guilty of the violation of the sacred duty of securing the spiritual welfare of those committed to their charge. Now, really, I think it would be a most unreasonable thing for the hon. Gentleman to require that a single word or sentence of that statement should be withdrawn.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I expressed the hope, which I sincerely feel, that Cardinal Logue would cease to dissuade Irish Roman Catholics from entering the Navy, seeing what we have done, and what advances we have made towards meeting their requirements, and seeing that no other cleric of the Roman Catholic Church has ever thought that these dangers to their faith were incurred by the Irish Roman Catholics under the conditions now provided.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
It is; not Cardinal Logue who has persuaded Irish Roman Catholics not to join the Navy; but it is the conditions insisted upon by the Admiralty which have dissuaded them. It is in the interest of the, Navy to remove these disabilities which: prevent parents sending their children into the Navy. I venture to say that if the hon. Gentleman asks the opinion of any Catholic Churchman, he will find that it is in complete accordance with that of Cardinal Logue. The hon. Gentleman did not tell us what the position of Catholic chaplains is compared with that of Protestant chaplains. Are they on equal terms?
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
There are two chaplains on the Establishment list who are in all respects similar—the chaplains at Portsmouth and Devonport. The other Roman Catholic priests are not chaplains in the same 1557 sense as the chaplains on the Navy List: they are not men whose whole life is devoted to the service in the Navy. The Admiralty have no claim upon them for their whole time or to order them about from one place to another. But we pay them allowances as long as they are in residence at these particular places to minister to the religious wants of the sailors.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
Are not a considerable number of the clergy of the Church of England in the position of commissioned officers in the Navy? There is not a single Catholic clergyman a commissioned officer. [Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN dissented.] This is one of the most important points on which dissatisfaction has been expressed. There is a list of those Church chaplains who are appointed on shore, and you ought to give them the same position and the same rank that you give to the clergyman of the Church of England. There is not a single Catholic clergyman a commissioned officer in the Navy ashore or afloat, and every fair person will see that impartial justice has not been done in this matter. We are told that there are few Wesleyans, Catholics, or Dissenters; and it comes to this, that the Church of England, as the Established Church, has every possible facility given to its members, and that no facility is given to the members of the other churches. That is simply the case, on the showing of the hon. Gentleman himself. I regret that he has not given a more satisfactory reply, and I feel sure that this matter will not be allowed to drop. It was the same in regard to the Army, and we had to keep pegging away about the Army until that inequality and injustice was completely done away with, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that his Department will be troubled about this matter in the future.
* ADMIRAL FIELD
I think the Civil Lord has stretched his duty almost to the utmost limit by the courteous manner in which he replied to the hon. Member. The hon. Member complains—and I will speak very frankly on this matter that the Admiralty do not give Roman Catholic chaplains to Her Majesty's Fleet. That is because Roman Catholics, in common with Wesleyans, Congregationalists, and other Nonconformist bodies, are Dissenters. In the Navy we are very 1558 pleased to receive Irishmen, for we know that we are getting good fighting material; but if Irishmen insist that their priests should come with the men, then, we say, take your men away.
* ADMIRAL FIELD
I say Roman Catholics are dissenters, and they have no i more claim to force their priests on board men-of-war than Wesleyans and other dissenting bodies have to force their pastors. If you want fair play, that is fair play. I can quite understand the aim and the game of the Irish Roman Catholic Members. Nothing will satisfy them except to get a priest on board every ship. But that will never come to pass as long as the Church of England is the Established Church of the land. Cardinal Logue said that there is a Protestant chaplain on board every ship in the Navy. That is not true. Protestant chaplains are only carried on board ships commanded by a post-captain. I do not know what you want, but I hope if this agitation is continued the Admiralty will withdraw the training ships from the Irish ports altogether. There is no room on board for two chaplains teaching different creeds and doctrines. We do not want to be questioned and catechised in that way; it would only breed dissension. Turning to the question of training, I disagree with the statement that there is no difference in the ordinary man and the man trained in a training vessel of masts and yards. The North German Lloyd is so impressed with the value of trained crews that they are fitting up special ships for that purpose. I do not challenge the policy of the Admiralty in dismantling the training squadron at the present time, although we fear it may be the beginning of a new policy. All I ask is that no hurried decision shall be arrived at for demolishing the training squadron. Now I pass away from that and come to. the question of the marines. I think it is grossly unfair, when marines are doing duty on shore at the front in South Africa, that they should be deprived of lodging allowance for their wives, whilst the soldiers' wives are granted separation money of 1s. per day.
§ CAPTAIN DONELAN () Cork, E.
With regard to the statement made a few 1559 moments ago by the Civil Lord, I should like to ask if it is not a fact that since the "Black Prince" has been stationed at Queenstown permanently the anticipations of the Admiralty have been realised, and the experiment proved perfectly successful.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
There is at present no reason to consider the removal of the "Black Prince," as a very satisfactory class of boys is being obtained. If, in consequence of the advice of the hon. Gentleman and his friends, those boys cease to enter the Navy at Queenstown, then the "Black Prince" will have to be removed elsewhere, but I hope such a condition of affairs will never arise.
§ CAPTAIN DONELAN
Will the hon. Gentleman consider the claim of the Catholic chaplain of Queenstown, whose duties have been considerably increased within the last few years, and whose allowance would be larger if calculated upon the old capitation basis. I do ask. the hon. Gentleman's favourable consideration as to this.
§ MR. POWER () Waterford, E.
There is no doubt great anxiety that a certain number of Irish boys should go into the service, but the Government is not disposed to consider the religious views of these boys. If the hon. Gentleman wants these boys to enter the service then he must respect their religious convictions. It is absolutely absurd to say "we want the boys, but we do not want their priests to intrude on the ship." That view is bigoted to a degree.
§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN
I do not represent a seaport constituency, and I am very glad of it on this occasion, because I should be sorry to see any constituents of mine go into the Navy to be treated in the way they evidently would be by officers like the hon. and gallant bigot who addressed us a while ago.
§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN
I withdraw the expression "bigot." The difficulty of Irish Catholics in speaking here is that even gentlemen who ought to understand better than the hon. and gallant Gentleman never seem to learn anything in this House. We are sick of hearing your profession of a desire to treat everyone in religious matters on an equality. As soon as a Roman Catholic question arises the Government is dead against any concession being made. We are tired of listening to praise and flattery of the gallant Irish soldiers and sailors; if it is worth while having Irishmen with your flag you ought to give them the consolations of their religion. If these are not afforded them it will act as a deterrent to their entering the service. We all recognise the proper spirit in which the Civil Lord has approached the subject. Apparently he was not satisfied with his own statement. He only talked of it as the best that could be done for the present, and he almost gave me reason to think that if he and the Admiralty got the opportunity they would go further. Irishmen are largely taxed in cash as well as in blood, and we hold that if you take Irishmen into your Navy you should give them the same facilities for practising their religion as are given to others. We are told you make provision for the Catholic sailor when he goes ashore, but surely in that case he can easily go to any place of worship he likes. Then we are told there is no room on board ships for priests, but the room that is used for the exercise of one religion can be used for the exercise of another, just the same as is done in your gaols. To tell a young man going into the Navy that he is not to have proper religious attention is to tell him a very serious thing. The greatest terror you can put before an Irish Catholic is to tell him he will die without the priest. If a man is to be executed on the scaffold, he has the advantage of having the priest; but in the Navy he is not to have that advantage because it might cost you, perhaps, £100 a year per ship. That is not my view of the best way to induce Irishmen to enter the Navy. The criticisms passed upon Cardinal Logue are most absurd, and can only emanate from people who do not understand the duty of a bishop or a priest. The bishop is bound to tell his people not to go on board ship or anywhere else where they incur risk to 1561 their immortal souls. He would fail in his duty if he did not do it. Wherever Catholics go, they should look forward to having provision for receiving spiritual consolation when the hour of death arrives. It will be our duty, on every occasion that arises here, to keep this question pressed upon your attention until equality is dealt out to Roman Catholics in the Navy as well as elsewhere.
§ MR. DAVID MACIVER () Liverpool, Kirkdale
said he wished to support as strongly as he could the views as to the training of seamen expressed by the hon. and gallant Admiral the Member for Eastbourne, on that side of the House. He felt that the saving of the cost of such training was very poor economy indeed, and he thought he had some right to address the House on the matter because he had been connected all his life with shipping matters, and he knew something of training vessels of every description. He was certain that the North German Lloyd's, who had a training vessel of their own, were very wise and sensible people, and, as they were very closely connected with the German Government, in training sailors for their own service they were also training them for the German navy. The English companies did not do it, as a rule, because they said they could not afford it, but it was the right thing to do. Any shipowner who understood his business, the man who wished to have his ships well sailed or desired them to go safely, who took a pride in his business and understood it, would not, if he could help it, employ anybody who had only been trained in a steamship; he knew perfectly well that the man most likely to navigate his ship safely was the man who had had a sea-going experience in sailing vessels. The best sailors of the present day were the men who had been trained in the small vessels running round our coasts—the fishermen class and those employed in larger sailing vessels. The number of men of that class was, unhappily, diminishing from the circumstance that steamers could be navigated so cheaply, whilst sailing vessels found it difficult to make a living. That was a national misfortune, and as time went on, unless the Navy again reverted to the system of training boys in training ships and sending them to sea, the time would come when our 1562 ships of war would be manned not by sailors so much as by men who were gunners, who, however, would be more efficient if they were brought up in sailing vessels. He spoke with some knowledge of what was required, and he wished in the strongest possible manner to emphasise the views with regard to the importance of training sailors expressed by the hon. and gallant Admiral the Member for Eastbourne.
§ MR. E. J. C. MORTON () Devonport
said it was notorious that not a year ago there was considerable difficulty on the part of the Admiralty in getting a sufficient number of naval shipwrights to serve the Fleet. This class of men had certain grievances and had made certain complaints. He know that some of these grievances—or alleged grievances—were extremely difficult to meet, some of them, perhaps, could not be met at all. But it was undoubtedly due to their feeling of having these grievances that the Admiralty were unable to get a sufficiency of naval shipwrights. Trades unions, on being applied to for advice, had advised their men that the conditions of service were such that they would not recommend them, in their own interest, to take service afloat in Her Majesty's ships. That seemed to him to be an extremely serious state of things. The first question he desired to ask the First Lord was whether the plan introduced about a year ago had succeeded by which one hundred and fifty naval shipwrights were to be taught as boys over a shorter period of apprenticeship. Had the Admiralty got the one hundred and fifty boys expected, or was it the fact, as he understood, that they had not secured more than twenty or thirty boys? The second question related to warrant officers in the Navy, and this was a matter which had been brought forward every year since he had had a seat in the House. Those officers were at least equal in ability, in training, and in the earnestness which they brought to their work, to any men in the Army: but while there was a career in the Army open to a man along the quartermaster line of promotion, by which he might rise from the ranks to become captain, retiring with the honorary rank of major, there was no similar line of promotion in the Navy. It was once promised that such a line should be opened, but nothing had been done, and he therefore again pressed for an assurance on the subject.
§ * MR. JOHN WILSON () Falkirk Burghs
said he had listened with extreme regret to the speeches made by hon. Members from Ireland. No doubt it was very desirable that their countrymen should have the consolations of their religion, but the position they took up was an impracticable one. If they were going to have chaplains for Roman Catholics (as Irish Members insisted) on every warship, then Scotsmen would insist on having their Presbyterian chaplains. Presbyterians sent more men to the Navy than Irish Roman Catholics, and Wesleyans and Methodists sent ten times as many. It would be practically impossible to send chaplains belonging to all these different denominations, and hon. Members from Ireland must see the position they took up was illogical. They should, as in olden times, make the chaplains the church militant—they should make them fight as well as preach—because, if all denominations were to be represented, they would form a considerable proportion of the crew.
§ DR. AMBROSE () Mayo, W.
I am sorry the great Protestant religion is divided into so many segments. With regard to the Roman Catholic religion it is different—it is one and universal, there are no sections in it and they all believe the same thing. I believe the Admiralty object to appointing more Catholic chaplains. You have Protestant and Catholic chaplains in the force. Those Protestant chaplains are commissioned officers. I want to know whether the Admiralty will appoint the present Roman Catholic chaplains in the Navy to the same position as that held by Protestant chaplains; they ought certainly to be of equal status.
§ * MR. WILLIAM JOHNSTON () Belfast, S.
urged upon the Admiralty the desirability of placing a training ship in the Belfast Lough, where there would be no difficulty in obtaining a large number of boys suitable for training. The importance of such a step had been pressed for several sessions, and he hoped the Secretary to the Admiralty would use his influence to obtain the realisation of this long-felt desire.
§ MR. POWER
pointed out that inasmuch as Roman Catholics believed in con- 1564 fession, the presence of a minister was absolutely necessary. Some answer to the point raised by the hon. Member for East Clare was certainly required, as it was not right that a badge of inferiority should be put upon the Roman Catholic chaplains attached to the Fleet.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I cannot hold out any hope that the expectations or desires just expressed will be fulfilled. I have already explained to the Committee that the position of these Roman Catholic priests is altogether different from the position of the chaplains, though I cannot for one moment admit that in any sense a badge of inferiority attaches to them. The power which the Admiralty can exercise over them is altogether different in the case of these priests from the case of the chaplains serving afloat with the ships. Under these circumstances I cannot hold out any hope that their position will be altered.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
The last few words of the hon. Gentleman make it almost necessary that we should take a division on this Vote. The hon. Gentleman told us in the plainest terms that the Admiralty will not grant to Catholic priests serving as chaplains to the forces of the Navy the same position and rank as that granted to ministers in the service of the Church of England. He says that no stigma of inferiority is cast upon the Catholic priests in this matter. I beg leave to differ from him. There is no reason whatever why the Catholic priest in the pay of and serving the Navy should be in the position of not being a commissioned officer, while Church of England ministers are commissioned officers. On the face of it, it is unjust and unfair. The hon. Gentleman says he does not see his way to increase the number of Roman Catholic priests in the Navy. I am sorry for that. If the Presbyterians do not seem particularly anxious about having more chaplains, that is no reason why we should not have more. We hold our own views, and we do not follow the example and precepts of any particular section of people in this matter. We are told that amongst the crews of the ships the Catholics are so few that it would be unreasonable to ask the Admiralty to ship Catholic chaplains for their special service. But if we cannot have more chaplains, it 1565 cannot be said that we are unreasonable in asking that the present Roman Catholic chaplains attached to the naval service should receive the same rank and have the same position as the ministers belonging to the Church of England. Should I be in order, Mr. Chairman, in moving a reduction under the sub-head at which we have now arrived?
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
I beg to move to reduce sub-head "D" by £100, in respect of the service of the marines. Surely I am in order in moving that?
Not after a discussion has taken place on another matter. The hon. Member might perhaps move a reduction on the whole Vote.
§ Whereupon Motion made, and Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £5,526,000, be granted for the said service."—(Mr. William Redmond.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 28; Noes, 173. (Division List No 47.)1567
|Abraham. Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Lloyd-George, David||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Macaleese, Daniel||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||M'Dermott, Patrick||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Blake, Edward||M'Ewan, William||Runciman, Walter|
|Crilly, Daniel||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Sullivan, D. (Westmeath)|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|Fox, Dr. Joseph Francis||O'Donnell, John|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. CharlesH.||O'Malley, William|
|Kilbride, Denis||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Charrington, Spencer||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (Crty of Lon.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans)|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Clough, Walter Owen||Godson, Sir Augustus F.|
|Baard, John GeorgeAlexander||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Baker, Sir John||Colomb, Sir John Charles R||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Goschen, Rt Hn G. J. (St George's|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H.||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Crombie, John William||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Halsey, Thomas Frederick|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Curzon, Viscount||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.|
|Beach, Rt Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm|
|Bethell, Commander||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan||Hanson, Sir Reginald|
|Bill, Charles||Digby, J. K. D. Wingfield-||Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale-|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Heath, James|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Donkin, Richard Sim||Henderson, Alexander|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hoare, Edw Brodie (Hampstead)|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Duckworth, James||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Dunn, Sir William||Horniman, Frederick John|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Butcher, John George||Fardell, Sir T. George||Howell, William Tudor|
|Caldwell, James||Fellowes, Hon. A. Edward||Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Hozier, Hon. James H. Cecil|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Cawley, Frederick||Finch, George H.||Jenkins, Sir John Jones|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.)||Fisher, William Hayes||Kay-Shuttle worth, Rt Hn Sir U|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Kimber, Henry|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Garfit, William||Knowles, Lees|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gedge, Sydney||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning- (Corn|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Nicol, Donald Ninan||Smith, Hon. W. P. D. (Strand)|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Norton, Capt. Cecd William||Stanley, Sir Hn. M. (Lambeth)|
|Leng, Sir John||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Steadman, William Charles|
|Llewelyn, Sir Diltwyn- (Swans'a||Oldroyd, Mark||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Strauss, Arthur|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Pease, Herbt. Pike (Darlington)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Lowe, Francis William||Pease, Joseph A. (Northum.)||Talhot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Lowles, John||Penn, John||Tennant, Harold John|
|Lucas-Shad well, William||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Pilkington, R. (Lanes Newton)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Pilkington, Sir G. A (Lanes, S W||Wallace, Robert|
|Maclure, Sir John William||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|M'Killop, James||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Webster, Sir Richard E.|
|Maddison, Fred.||Pryce Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A C E (T'nt'n|
|Malcolm, Ian||Purvis, Robert||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Marks, Henry Hananel||Randell, David||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm)|
|Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Reckitt, Harold James||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Monckton, Edward Philip||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir Matthew W||Wodehouse, Rt Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Monk, Charles James||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas Thomson||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Young, Commander (Berks, E.|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Round. James||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Morrison, Walter||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptf'd||Seely, Charles Hilton||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Monlton, John Fletcher||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)|
Resolution agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ * THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. MACARTNEY,) Antrim, S.
, in reply to the hon. Member for Devonport, said that the scheme with regard to naval shipwrights apprentices had turned out perfectly successful. Out of the 150 required last year, 135 were obtained by the 31st December. There was no doubt that in the course of the next financial year the number provided for in the Estimates would be made up. With regard to the question of additional pensions for chief petty officers, he regretted his inability to add anything to his statement at the beginning of the financial year. A scheme was drawn up, but unfortunately it did not meet with the approval of those who had to criticise it, certain defects being pointed out which would militate against its success.
§ MR. KEARLEY () Devonport
Was the pension contingent upon the man continuing to serve for another five years?
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
That was the idea. With regard to the promotion from the ranks, it was incorrect to say that the career of a seaman on the lower deck ended at the rank of warrant officer, as there were upwards of 100 men, who had been warrant officers, now holding commissions and receiving higher pay and higher pensions. Allusion had been made 1568 to the promotions to quartermasterships in the Army, but that was not at all analogous to anything in the Navy. The two services were not so analogous as to present the same opportunities of promotion in that respect.
§ MR. KEARLEY
asked whether it was not the fact that the officers referred to as having commissions held merely honorary and not substantive rank.
§ 2. £845,800, Works, Buildings, and Repairs at Home and Abroad.
SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH () Lancashire, Clitheroe
There are several points upon which I should like to ask for a little explanation. The first is on page 107. In reference to the increased sum for naval prisons, I should like to know whether any reduction of the present accommodation elsewhere is likely to result from this increased sum for prison accommodation, and what the meaning of the whole item is. I observe also that there is an additional sum of £2,000 to be spent on the prison at Bodmin for additional cell accommodation. I see from the returns that the Bodmin prison has not been full for the 1569 last couple of years. It is capable of holding seventy-two prisoners, but the average number for the year is only sixty-six. I had been hoping that an improvement would have been acknowledged on all hands in regard to the conduct of our sailors, and that by degrees we might look to a substantial reduction in these items of prison accommodation for sailors and marines, and possibly get rid of such expenditure altogether. I trust that by the gradual tendency to reduce sentences and the improvement in the conduct of the sailors and marines, we may hope for a constant reduction of this prison expenditure, although the numbers of our sailors and marines are on the increase. I view with a good deal of jealousy any proposals of this kind which appear to add to our prison accommodation, for it assumes that there will be an increase in our naval prisoners. I will not pursue this topic further, but simply ask for an explanation. Before I sit down, I should like some explanation as to why it was found necessary to remove the training ship "Ganges" from Falmouth to Harwich, rather than move a ship from Plymouth. Falmouth has long been a very desirable station for the training of boys, and I am afraid that by the removal of the ship fresh expenditure will have to be incurred.
§ * SIR JOHN COLOMB () Great Yarmouth
I desire to ask one or two questions. I asked the other day a question about Wei-hai-wei, and the First Lord had not the opportunity of giving me a reply. I see that on this Vote £13,000 is to be taken, £7,000 of which is for a naval depot. I see that there is no expenditure up to the 31st of March., therefore the £13,000 comes in as beginning next year. Before we spend this money I think we should have some information as to whether the Government have made up their mind what they are going to do with this port. I am not going to argue it, but I am going to suggest that there are only two courses possible, that is, either to make it a Gibraltar or to spend no money beyond the expense of erecting a temporary coal store. I cannot see that there is any half way between these two courses. I think if we are going to embark upon any large expenditure, we are entitled to ask what is the policy of the Admiralty there. I asked a question last year which I will 1570 repeat now, because last year I do not think my right hon. friend was in a position to answer it. I wish to know has the delimitation of the land frontier been made, and has it been ascertained what is the total mainland area.
§ * SIR JOHN COLOMB
I put a question to the Under Secretary for War as to the mainland, and I was referred to the Admiralty. I put a question to my right hon. friend on this point, and he said that the delimitation had not taken place.
§ * SIR JOHN COLOMB
I understand, then, that at that time the Admiralty had charge of the matter, but since then they have entirely washed their hands of the question of Wei-hai-wei, and that now it is a War Office question. That being so I will postpone making any further remarks upon that point. I do not want to press my hon. friend, but if he is willing to tell us what is the policy of the Admiralty in regard to this particular port, I think it is important that he should give us some information. I wish to express my extreme satisfaction with what is shown on the estimates, namely, that they are going to establish a coal depot at the Falkland Islands.
§ MR. KEARLEY
I wish to ask the hon. Gentleman whether he proposes to make any statement with regard to the general policy of extending building slips in the various dockyards. Many important extensions are now going on for which the money has been voted under the Naval Works Act.
§ MR. KEARLEY
I think pier extensions are included in this Vote. Are we to have a statement in reference to the extension of building slips?
§ MR. KEARLEY
I think this is very important, because it has been suggested that every opportunity should be taken by the Admiralty for extending their building facilities at their own dockyards. I think we ought to hear something as to the general policy of the Admiralty in carrying out the building of those slips in their various dockyards. The question of acquiring sites for rifle ranges comes under this Vote. On the general question of ranges I made reference to the First Lord's statement in regard to the difficulties that the Admiralty were encountering in securing for the marines at Plymouth a rifle range. We have had no explanation of that, and I would like to hear something on the point.
* ADMIRAL FIELD
With regard to the provision of a rifle range at Plymouth we have had no adequate explanation except that a difficulty has arisen with the War Office. Surely the Admiralty have compulsory powers to purchase, and they ought to exorcise it. My hon. and gallant friend the Member for Great Yarmouth objects to anything being done at Wei-hai-wei beyond the erection of a coal store, and he says we have no choice between either making Wei-hai-wei a coal store or making it a Gibraltar. I think there is an intermediate course which might very well be adopted. It is an important secondary base, as was pointed out by Lord Charles Beresford. I am glad to see that there is a sum of £27,000 put down for naval depots. I wish the sum had been larger, but perhaps we cannot spend more in the time. Just as you have made Portsmouth into a strong defensive position for your Fleet something of the kind is necessary at Wei-hai-wei to make it of practical service to the squadron at that station. A breakwater is required there, with intermediate openings in it for the protection of the harbour from torpedo-boats. I cordially support the erection of a coal depot at Falkland Islands, and I want to ask a question about several other places. I understand that there is to be a dock laid down at Jamaica and Singapore, and I do not see any mention of it here; neither is there any mention of the progress that is being made at the Hong Kong dock. I also desire to express my great regret that the Works Department of the Admiralty 1572 seem to have lost one of their most valuable officers in Mr. Riley, who has been absorbed by the London County Council, who appear to be absorbing everything they can lay their hands on. I am told that you let him go because he wanted a small increase of salary, which you refused to grant him, and so you let the London County Council engage him. I do not think this is to the credit of the Admiralty, and perhaps I shall be furnished with some adequate explanation on the point.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR () Forfarshire
I desire to ask whether some information can be given to the Committee in regard to the expenditure upon Wei-hai-wei. There was £4,500 on the Estimates last year for dredging at Wei-hai-wei, and the First Lord then made an important statement, which has been quoted by the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken, to the effect that Wei-hai-wei was to be made a secondary naval base. I see. there is now a further sum of £13,000—£6,000 for dredging and £7,000 for establishing a naval depot. I should like to know if we can have some particulars of the work now going on.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Various questions of detail have been put to me by hon. Members. I may say that it is owing to the growth of the Navy and not to any increase of misconduct among the men that further prison accommodation is found to be necessary. The present accommodation is not sufficient at all times to accommodate the number of prisoners, and it has been found necessary to send them to civil gaols, although they had committed only naval offences. I think that is a very undesirable thing to do, and we are anxious to avoid this as much as possible in the future by providing additional prison accommodation of our own. I have been asked a question in regard to the removal of the training ship "Ganges," and the right hon. Member who asked the question desires to be informed of the reasons which led the Admiralty to take that course. He said that he regretted its removal, because it involved increased cost. The position of the training ship "Ganges" at Falmouth left a great deal to be desired, for not only was the position of the ship one of great inconvenience, but it seriously 1573 affected the possibility of landing the boys on many days in the year on account of the weather, and this affected their health and their opportunities for recreation. Under these circumstances we were face to face with the necessity of creating a new berth nearer to the recreation ground, and of building a new hospital more in accordance with medical requirements than the loft oyer a boat shed which has done duty so long. The amount of that expenditure upon new works is estimated at £20,000, but before we incurred that expenditure we thought it right to look into the question as to whether the "Ganges" should be retained at Falmouth. It had not proved very attractive as a recruiting station, and there are other ships in the west country to take all the local recruits. We found that last year out of 300 or 400 boys only thirty were recruited locally, and the majority of them came from London, the Midland counties, the Eastern counties, and other parts of the country. We found also that owing to the difficulty of landing the boys in bad weather there was a very considerable sick list, and in this respect the ship compared unfavourably with other ships. Sooner than incur this big expenditure at Falmouth we thought it better to remove the "Ganges" to a new site, and lay the money out there. I have received a letter speaking in the most satisfactory terms of the condition of the boys on the ship in its new position at Harwich, which I think will be a great benefit to the Naval Service. My hon. friend below the gangway who spoke last inquired as to what has been done at Wei-hai-wei, and what we propose to do for the future. I am sorry to say that I am not in a position to add very much to the statement made by my right hon. friend the First Lord and myself in the debate which occurred on this subject last year. Length of time for communication on matters of detail is one difficulty, and, in addition to that, it is necessary in these matters that this work can only be undertaken after a very full conference with the military authorities, and I think hot). Members will understand that recent events have rendered it impossible to have such a conference. I have been asked what has been done up to the present time. We have sent out a dredger from Malta, which is steadily at work keeping the harbour to a depth of 30ft. Beyond that a further small sum, pro- 1574 bably between £3,000 and £4,000, is being expended at the discretion of the Commander-in-Chief on repairs to the pier, providing office accommodation, in fitting some of the Chinese houses for the reception of machinery, and in other matters of that kind, but the report of the year's work has not yet been issued, and I am not able to give any definite information on the subject. Then the hon. Member for Devonport asked for information about the intentions of the Admiralty with reference to new slips. We found that with the growth of ships, both in tonnage and length, several of our slips were no longer able to accommodate the largest of our cruisers and battleships. We are therefore enlarging some of these slips where it can be done economically, and we propose to build new slips at Chatham and Devonport capable of holding the largest class of ship in existence, or likely to be constructed. We have avoided the error of supposing that the limit as to length has been reached, and the slips will be so arranged that they can, if necessary, be extended in the future. Then there is the question of the rifle range for marines. There have been most lamentable and heart-breaking delays in connection with that matter, and I am afraid we are not altogether at the end of them. The military authorities are constructing a range on Dartmoor for military purposes, and we have asked them to negotiate for a range for the marines also. The difficulty experienced in connection with the acquisition of the land has been very great, and it is very unlikely that any work will be carried out during the year 1900-1. I believe the military authorities now intend to proceed by Provisional Order.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not know who the landlord is, but I think it is a case where several interests are involved. I am not acquainted with the details of the negotiations, as the military authorities are carrying them out, and it is obviously desirable that they should be conducted by one Department. As to the expenditure under the Naval Works Act, the progress of the work has been pretty fully described in the state- 1575 ment of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and a Return of the estimated expenditure for the financial year will be issued shortly. As to Mr. Riley, he acted for about four years as assistant director of works. He rendered good service to the Admiralty, and discharged his duties with great zeal and ability. His reputation was so great that the county council sought him for their work, and offered a salary larger than that he was paid by the Admiralty. I was very sorry to lose Mr. Riley, but I cannot admit for one moment that there was any difficulty in filling his place from the staff. I congratulate him on having secured such a good appointment, and I have every reason to believe that he is giving the same satisfaction to the county council that he gave to us. I think it is a compliment to the staff of the Works Department of the Admiralty that the county council should have sought assistance from one of its members.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I congratulate my hon. friend on the certificate which the London County Council has given him in regard to his ability to choose good men. I rise once again, and more seriously, to call the attention of my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Admiralty to the fact that there is no mention of the Scilly Isles in the Estimates. It was Lord St. Vincent who first saw the importance of these islands, and who constantly in his day directed the attention of the Admiralty to them. He had great difficulty in the matter, and he did not succeed. He had also great difficulty in connection with the Plymouth breakwater, and in that he did succeed. The Scilly Islands are more important than Dover or Portland or the other places where the Admiralty are constructing works. A breakwater across Broad Sound would be practicable, would only cost about £250,000, and would afford a station either for offensive or defensive purposes such as does not exist elsewhere. That is undoubtedly the case. During the Franco-German War there took refuge in these islands between fifty and sixty German merchantmen, and they remained there until the end of the war, in order to escape French cruisers. I have mentioned the 1576 matter again and again, but I have not seen any indication that it is engaging the attention of the Admiralty. I am encouraged, however, by the fact that the First Lord of the Admiralty told us the other day that he had a special strategist in the Intelligence Department. Will he recommend that strategist to study the works of Lord St. Vincent? That is all I ask. Any strategist will agree that of all the stations where a little work would complete a safe harbour the Scilly Islands are the most important. I hope we may have some assurance that this matter will be considered. If it is considered I believe that the conclusion of Lord St. Vincent. which I have endeavoured humbly to revive, will be arrived at.
AN HON. MEMBER
I should like to ask, in connection with the considerable sum of money which is to be expended in building and enlarging hospitals, whether experts have been consulted. No branch of architecture has made greater strides in recent years than that of building hospitals.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
A special study has been made of the literature of the subject, and I undertake to say that if my hon. friend visits one of our latest hospitals he will find it up to the best standard.
I can assure my hon. friend that the question of the Scilly Islands has been and will be again considered, but my naval colleagues and myself consider that the work which has been undertaken is more important.