HC Deb 10 March 1902 vol 104 cc940-63

2. £3,356,400, Naval Armaments.

3. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,100,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the expense of works, buildings, and repairs, at home and abroad, including the cost of superintendence, purchase of sites, grants in aid, and other charges connected therewith, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1903." (8.5.)

(8.35.) MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)

said that there was a net increase of £76,000 on this Vote over that of last year. He quite recognised that it was important, from the point of view of administration, that this Vote should be taken as early as possible in the session, but there were a few questions which he would like to address to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty. One had relation to the progress which had been made with the works under the Naval Works Acts. There was in the Vote a sum of £297,000 for annuities— In repayment of advances under the Naval Works Acts, 1895 to 1901. He apprehended that this was not the only Vote on which discussion of the works could be taken, and certainly the Committee had been in the habit of discussing them under the First Lord's salary. What he said now, therefore, would be without prejudice to his right to ask for further information when Vote 12 came on at a later date of the session. He thought that the Committee should have from the hon. Gentleman a more specific statement than that given the other day as to the estimated amount of expenditure in connection with the Act passed last session. As to the old items, the only one that interested him particularly was Gibraltar He gathered from the statement which accompanied the First Lord's Memorandum that so far as the inshore defence of the harbour of Gibraltar was concerned, the work was now within measurable distance of completion. What had always been in their view was the necessity of protecting the Fleet from torpedo attack, and they had been anxious to push on with the construction of the seawall. The other part—the dockyard extension, was not yet near completion. The question of the harbour scheme had been left somewhat obscure last year. It would be remembered that the Report of the Gibraltar Committee gave some countenance to the suggestion that it would be possible and desirable to build another harbour on the eastern side of the Rock. The statement laid before Parliament was incomplete, in respect to a reasoned Estimate as to the cost and value of such a harbour. As he understood, the First Lord of the Admiralty proposed to take further advice before coming to a definite conclusion. That was a matter which belonged to the Admiralty itself. No report of any Committee, however eminent, could take away responsibility from the shoulders of the First Lord and the Government, in regard to so important a work as this; and, without regard to the advice given them, the Committee was entitled to ask whether the Admiralty had come, on its own responsibility, to any decision in regard to an Imperial work of such magnitude as the Eastern harbour. Was the proposal for such a harbour a living proposal? The remaining portion of the works carried on under the Estimates was of a great deal less importance. Portsmouth appeared to be the scene of the greatest activity. There was £26,000 for No. 13 Dock, and £45,000 for No. 13 Dock, and a large sum for a new.steam factory. All these were serious items, which would demand the attention I of the hon. Gentleman. The only other item to which he would direct attention; was the sum of £13,000 for a new pier at Wei-Hai-Wei. Would the hon. Gentleman be at liberty to tell the Committee what was to be the use of that new pier? He did not want to press the hon. Gentleman on these matters, but he thought some explanation should be given.


said he wished to emphasise what had fallen from his hon. friend, that this Vote ought not to be taken until the Committee were acquainted with the Estimates of the Expenditure under the Works Acts. He admitted it was impossible to get exact Estimates, but the Committee should be able to get some notion of it year by year. The Committee ought to be told not only what the expenditure was likely to be in the present year, but next year as well. With regard to Wei-Hai-Wei, the entrance to the port was four miles broad (or across), and the difficulty of protecting the anchorage from torpedo attack from Port Arthur in time of war was so great as to make it impossible to make Wei-Hai-Wei a naval base in time of war, he had no doubt, therefore, that the expenditure on that place was peace expenditure.


said he had always been of opinion that Wei-Hai-Wei was valueless, and the Government had now come round to his opinion. It was presented to the House as an answer to the taking of Port Arthur by Russia; but Port Arthur remained in the hands of Russia, and we had left Wei-Hai-Wei. The real truth was that this was one of the numerous mistakes.made when Lord Salisbury was away from the Foreign Office. Amateurs were put in his place, and all sorts of mistakes were made. What was to become of Wei-Hai-Wei? The Government had given it up as a naval base; they had given up fortifying the heights round it, and what remained? A sanatorium for the Fleet—it was absurd. He believed that just as the Government were frightened out of Port Arthur by Russia, so they had been frightened out of Wei-Hai-Wei by Germany, in the same manner as they had been frightened out of their right to search for contraband of war by the same Power. The result of that was, they had stopped all search in South African waters for contraband of war, and German steamers were keeping up the intercourse between the Boers and Europe. With regard to the Works Vote, the charge for works was increasing more than the Vote showed. The total expenditure was £27,500,000. There was the Works Department and the Works Loan Department, which was even more incompetent than the Works Department. The Works Department had impressed upon each successive First Lord a policy wholly inconsistent with the idea of maintaining the supremacy of the sea by ships and guns and men. He regarded this Department with great jealousy he had tried a fall with it, and had been badly worsted in the case of Gibraltar. The present First Lord was not strong enough to hold his own against the Department. He had no doubt that he had convinced the First Lord that he was right about Gibraltar, that the works which were being conducted when he was sent there, and were still being conducted, made Gibraltar a serious weakness, and not a source of strength, and that it was necessary to build a harbour on the eastern side. His Committee brought back a unanimous Report. It was rejected, and he was himself treated with obloquy for having taken, at great trouble and at a great expense of time and money, a part in the preparation of that Report—a Report of a Committee comprising an eminent admiral, an eminent general, an eminent civil engineer, and himself. That Report was rejected because the Commander-in-Chief at Gibraltar disagreed with it. Still they were told by the First Lord that the Admiralty was nevertheless going to survey the eastern side to see whether it was practicable to build a harbour on that side, and how much it would cost. That was perfect nonsense. The Admiralty was already in possession' of recent soundings, and nothing was better known than the set of the currents and the formation of the Rock. He could only regard the statement as a means of evading the recommendation of the Committee to proceed with the construction of the harbour. What had the Government been doing with regard to this survey? Did they really seriously mean to pursue the construction of a harbour on the eastern side? They knew there was no more difficulty in building a harbour on that side than on the west. A good deal had been said of the Levant wind, but that would not prevent a harbour being built. This was a serious matter. In the words of their military advisers, the only method of securing the safety of Gibraltar now was by occupying all the territory from Tarifa right round to the eastern side of the Rock. That would require 40,000 troops, and were we to find 40,000 its time of war for this purpose? He felt bitterly disappointed that his labours in this matter had been set at naught and thrown away. What surveys had been made? Had any extra surveys at all been made? He did not believe that there had, because none were necessary. He wished to ask what the Government had been doing. They had chosen to reject the considered opinions of their military advisers, and they had chosen to reject the unanimous Report of the Committee of which he was the humblest member, on the plea that the Committee did not quite know what it would cost. He said that the Committee had had full information. Everything connected with the soundings and the winds at Gibraltar were well known. Were the Government prepared to admit that the reasons they gave were merely a pretext for setting aside the Report of the Committee, which they did not intend to put into effect?

(9.3.) MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)

said he wished to refer to the rebuilding of the Nelson Monument at Portsdown. A contract had been entered into for £1,091, but when the contractor finished the work he found that it had cost him £1,411, and the Admiralty recommended to the Treasury that he should be paid the difference. It was a pity that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim, and also the present Secretary to the Treasury, who were, he believed, responsible for that irregular business, were riot present. They had heard a great deal about contracts during the session, and probably much more remained to be said. He hoped that some explanation would he given why, a contract having been entered into, nearly 33 per cent. more than the amount was paid to the contractor. He supposed that many men found they were out of pocket at the end of a contract, but they did not find the outside world making good to them the difference. He thought he was entitled to ask before the Vote was passed for some information of such irregular business.

(9.6.) MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)

said he did not think that the Government had given any satisfactory explanation as to why they had abandoned Wei-Hai-Wei as a naval station. They had often observed, in connection with the present Government, that they came forward with a great flourish of trumpets and said that a certain place was very important, and then after a short time it w-is found that everything that had been said was entirely wrong. Wei-Hai-Wei was taken as a set-off against the Russian occupation of Port Arthur, and it was stated at the time that it would be a most important naval centre for the British Fleet in Chinese waters. At present the nearest British coaling station was at Hong Kong. Shanghai was not a British possession; it was a treaty port, and the Germans and the Japanese had permanent barracks there. He maintained that Hong Kong was too far distant to be effectively used as a coaling station. When he was at Wei-Hai-Wei the "Terrible" was in the harbour. Were the Government going to keep the "Terrible" there, and was their idea to use the "Terrible" to defend the place instead of proceeding with the fortifications? He understood that the fortifications were almost completed, and he should have thought that it was worth while finishing them. Even if it were to be used only as a hospital or sanitorium for the Fleet, surely it would be none the worse for being protected. He could not conceive why the necessary works should not be finished and guns planted on them, as the fortifications would be able to assist the Fleet in case of need. The giving up of Wei-Hai-Wei was another example of the vacillating policy shown by the Government. The alliance with Japan did not remove the necessity for keeping Wei-Hai-Wei as a naval base. They ought to have a naval base, and, being in possession of Wei-Hai-Wei, it ought to be protected, and the world ought to be shown that it was the naval station of this country, and that they meant to defend it as such. He thought the reason why the fortifications had been given up was to impress other nations with the fact that England did not intend to take bits of China. But they had a right to fortify Wei-Hai-Wei; they had actually begun operations, and to give them up now because they thought they were inexpedient would not assist the Government one whit as a reason against any other country fortifying any other part of China. He complained that he could not really get at the bottom of the policy of the Government with reference to Wei-Hai-Wei. He himself believed that it would form a very good base for the purpose of a coaling station, or for repairing the Fleet. It had a good harbour, and plenty of room for large vessels. Having seen the place, he ventured to say that there was plenty of, room for vessels to enter the harbour in time of stress, and to get the temporary shelter they needed. He thought that in the course of a year or two the Government would again change their minds, and would ask the House of Commons for a large sum of money in order to put guns on the fortifications. A sum of £13,000 was asked for for a new pier. For whom was that pier intended? It was not intended for military purposes, and it was not required so far as the Navy was concerned, as launches would be sufficient. To ask £13,000 for the pier at a mere watering-place was, in his opinion, an expenditure of public money not warranted under the Navy Votes. Wei-Hai-Wei might be made into a watering place, he given gardens, a pier, and landing places, but that was all civil expenditure, and ought not to come under the Navy Estimates at all.


thought it an extraordinary thing that the hon. Member for Mid Lanark should come out as an advocate of reckless expenditure, for that, he contended, was what his argument came to. He agreed, however, that Wei-Hai-Wei was a crucial example of the ridiculous way in which we manage our system of Imperial defence. When Port Arthur was acquired by Russia, this country acquired Wei-Hai-Wei. He thought at the time it was perhaps a wise thing to do. We were then immediately told, on the authority of and by the War Office—not by the Admiralty at all—that Wei-Hai-Wei was a most important place for a secondary naval base. Hon. Members would I remember sitting up through a long night in July until the morning broke fighting this question. From the first he had steadily endeavoured to defeat and destroy the contention of the War Office. The question of naval bases was one, not for the War Office, but for naval opinion to decide; it should rest with the Admiralty. It was deliberately stated that a large expenditure was to be incurred in fortifying this place because the War Office considered it necessary as a secondary naval base, but, when asked what they meant by a secondary naval I base, the War Office was really unable to say. An announcement was now quietly made by the Admiralty that the fortifications were not to be proceeded with, and that the contention of the War Office was not to be pressed. What did it mean? It meant that naval opinion, which should have been consulted at the start, was consulted only at the end, and probably the general "hard-up-ness" of the situation in other directions had enabled the Admiralty to triumph over the War Office. As to the statement of the hon. Member for Mid Lanark that guns and so on should be placed at Wei-Hai-Wei to shelter our ships in case of war, all he could say was that the business of the British Fleet would be on the sea, not in harbour. With regard to coaling depôts, he was glad to see the Admiralty were going on with the work at the Falkland Islands. He would like to know, however, whether it was the policy of the Admiralty to finish these coaling sheds as soon as possible. In the case of our numerous sailing ships coming round the Horn with grain stuffs for this country, if war broke out the first question to arise would be the collection and sheltering of those ships and the means of protecting them until they could be brought safely into port. The Falkland Islands were the only places we had in a position to be of any use for that purpose as a base and coaling station for the cruisers so engaged. Everybody recognised the importance of the Gape route in case of any obstruction in regard to the Suez Canal, but when the Cape route became a matter of serious importance to this country, so did the route round Cape Horn. He therefore asked whether the sum taken this year represented the full amount the Admiralty could manage, to spend on this work, as it was important that these preparations should be made, and that there should be no delay in regard to these small but necessary arrangements at the Falkland Islands.

(9.23.) MR. O'MARA

thought the hon. Member had somewhat misrepresented the hon. Member for Mid Lanark in saying he had come forward as an advocate of reckless expenditure. What his hon. friend really intended to point out was that the Government in asking for this expenditure on a pier were either proceeding too far or not far enough. He was not himself a naval expert, but he understood that the naval authorities were not going to fortify Wei-Hai-Wei, and that they had handed it over to the Colonial Office for administration. That was so, because in the Civil Service Estimates a sum was asked for by the Colonial Office in consequence. There was, however, this Vote appearing in the Navy Estimates, and some explanation should be given as to why the Colonia Office could not, out of its Vote, provide this pier with the other necessary attractions, such as niggers and so on, at this watering place in China. He could not understand the system of finance under which the Government could come and ask for Votes under two different heads for the one place. Another point worthy of notice was the fact that out of this large sum of £1,100,000. only £5,000 was to be spent in Ireland. There was no doubt that Ireland would occupy an important strategical position in the next naval war. The fleets would have to mobilise either in the Bay of Biscay or off the coast of Ireland, and the nearest ports of refuge would be on the south or west coast of Ireland. Consequently, it would be only an ordinary precaution on the part of the Admiralty to establish in Ireland a proper naval port at which repairs could be carried out. He moved to reduce the Vote by £5,000.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,095,000, be granted for the said service."—(Mr. O'Mara).


asked for an explanation of an item of £4,200 for a water-tube boiler shop at Haulbowline, seeing that neither engines nor boilers were made there.

*(9.29.) THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. PRETYMAN, Suffolk, Woodbridge)

thought it would perhaps be convenient at this point to reply to the points which had been raised. The first question of importance to which attention had been called was to the expenditure under the Loans Act. The total estimated expenditure under that Act for the two financial years ending in April, 1904, was £6,492,000. Up to March 31st next, approximately one-half the period, it was expected there would have been spent £2,700,000, or not quite one-half the total amount. They were beginning several large works, on which during the first year the expenditure was small, but the expenditure next year would probably be larger, so that they were not likely to be greatly below the total estimate. That brought him to the point raised by the hon. Member for Dundee with regard to the progress that was being made with the two great works for which they received the authority of the House last year—he referred to the breakwater at Malta and the provision of coaling stations for the Navy. As to the works at Malta, no actual visible progress had been possible, because no expenditure was possible until the Vote had been authorised by Parliament, and he could not agree with the hon. Member for King's Lynn as to the amount of care and knowledge which was required before undertaking great engineering works of this character. Soundings which were sufficient for purposes of navigation were not sufficient for the purposes of constructing a breakwater. He should like the hon. Member for King's Lynn to produce his evidence to show that any engineer had stated that the soundings which had already been taken and the information in the possession of the Admiralty were insufficient to enable them to proceed with the work.


said the hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that those soundings to which he referred were produced before the Committee, and were in the possession of the Admiralty now.


said that those soundings were sufficient for the purposes of navigation, but not for the construction of a breakwater. In regard to Gibraltar, the pledge given by the First Lord of the Admiralty had of course been fulfilled—that they would take steps to investigate closely the question of the eastern side of the harbour. A very distinguished civil engineer had been despatched to Gibraltar, and he was now making a most accurate survey and recording observations as to winds, currents, and weather. This engineer went two or three months ago, and he was making borings and close soundings. and when his report was made, the subject could be re-considered. Until this engineer's investigations were completed, the question remained where it was last year. In regard to the Malta breakwater, careful borings and soundings had been completed, and the necessary plans were being prepared. With regard to the coaling stations, although no great progress with the work was visible, many of the plans were in a forward state. A large work was being undertaken on the mainland opposite Hong Kong, and plans were also in a forward condition for the erection of a large coaling station at Portsmouth. Big works were in progress at Portsmouth, where No. 12 and No. 13 docks were being lengthened in order to enable them to accommodate large cruisers. No. 13 dock would cost £45,000, and when lengthened it would take all classes of ships. No. 12 dock was being lengthened in a similar manner. The great machine shop at Portsmouth was also receiving attention, and he believed that this was part of the policy advocated in the debate on naval questions a few nights ago. This question was raised by the hon. Member for Gateshead, who stated that some of their appliances in the workshops at Portsmouth were obsolete, and their machinery was not up to date. This new workshop at Portsmouth was the result of the policy pressed for by the hon. Member that new machinery should be available in order to work to the best advantage. This new machine shop would certainly cost £188,000.


said that was only a small machine shop, for he had put up one that cost £320,000.


said that this new machine shop would be 270 feet by 590 feet. It would be entirely worked by electric power. In regard to Wei-Hai-Wei, the opinions of two opposite schools of thought had been laid before the Committee. The hon. Member opposite stated that the Fleet ought to be able to maintain and protect Wei-Hai-Wei. But it was not the duty of the Fleet to protect its own coaling stations. The object of a fleet in war was to attack the enemy, and it must be perfectly free to carry out that duty. It had now been decided to make Wei-Hai-Wei a station to which the Fleet might resort in peace time, which would be of great value to the Fleet. This pier about which a question had been raised was for the use of the Fleet, in order that the crews might land upon the Island, which without a pier would be absolutely impossible. The harbour of Wei-Hai-Wei was subject to very heavy seas, and at many times of the year the state of the weather would make landing impossible without a pier. On the island it was proposed to maintain a hospital, a recreation ground, a canteen, and a coaling station—not on a very large scale. It was to be a summer sanatorium for the Fleet, and a station where manœuvres could be carried out in an extremely healthy climate. Commanding officers who had reported from this station were unanimously of opinion that Wei-Hai-Wei was, perhaps, the very best available harbour of the kind for the crews, and it was even a better climate than that of Japan. Therefore, for the purposes he had named a more suitable station could not be found.

One or two other questions had been asked him. As to the works at the Falkland Islands, they were progressing, and would be completed during this financial year. The sum of £20,000, which was unspent, and led his hon. friend to suppose that the work would not be finished this year, was the result of a saving on the original estimate. That was the result of the Government Works Department having carried out this work with their own workmen, and they had thus been enabled to save £20,000 upon the Vote. He thought that was very creditable to the Works Department, more especially in view of the statement made by his hon. friend behind him that his Department was the most incompetent part of the Admiralty staff. With regard to the question raised as to the payment of £400 above the original contract price for the Nelson Monument at Portodown, this occurred three years ago when the matter was not personally before him. He understood that the matter had been carefully considered, but if the hon. Member would give him notice of a Question on the subject, he would give him an answer.


What about the Haulbowline water tube boilers?


said that was for the necessary repairs to water tube boilers, with which a large portion of the Fleet was furnished. There were similar shops for all kinds of boilers.


said he wished to allude to two most important questions which had been raised. One was the eastern dock at Gibraltar. He did not know whether the hon. Member for King's Lynn was satisfied with the answer given on this question, but he must confess that, from a totally different point of view, he did not regard the answer as entirely satisfactory. What the hon. Member told them was that a distinguished expert had been sent out to continue the investigations which were commenced last year by the hon. Member for King's Lynn. He had hoped that the hon. Member would have been able to tell the Committee that on its own responsibility the Admiralty had settled, once for all, whether there was to be a dock on the eastern side. His own wish was that the answer should be in the negative, because he did not think that a harbour on the east side was one which would justify the expenditure on its construction. Referring to the-position of Wei-Hai Wei, he said the hon. Gentleman had not been unfairly dealt with by the Committee, but they desired information as to how that place would be affected by the announcement recently made. It was declared by the Admiralty three years ago that Wei-Hai-Wei was to-be a secondary military base. When an explanation of that phrase was asked, they were told that Wei-Hai-Wei was to be in Chinese waters a port similar to Gibraltar in the Mediterranean, before the present great expansion of works took place. It was stated three years ago that we were going to build at Wei-Hai-Wei a coaling station, store-houses, and a naval hospital. These were all specific statements, and he wanted to know whether they still held good.


It is proposed still to have a coaling station there, but not on a very large scale. There will also be a canteen, recreation grounds, and small stores.


Practically the policy at Wei-Hai-Wei with regard to the Works Department is still to be persevered in, notwithstanding the general change of view by the War Office and the Foreign Office.

(9.54.) MR. GROVES (Salford, S.)

asked whether it was a fact that on the bar at Sheerness the greatest depth of water, and that only for a limited period, was thirty-six feet. He asked hon. Gentlemen to imagine what would be the position in the case of a naval battle extending up the eastern coast of England if an ironclad drawing twenty-eight or thirty feet of water received such injury that her watertight compartments carried her down a few feet more than her usual depth. That ironclad, when seeking refuge, might not be able to enter Sheerness. Was the hon. Member aware that within recent times a Member of the House, who was engaged in the shipping trade, made an offer to the Admiralty, when expending money on a commercial graving dock, to enlarge the length and width of the dock to admit modern ironclads for a subsidy of £10,000, and that the offer was refused by the Admiralty at the time? He wished to know whether the Vote now before the Committee provided for increasing the depth at Sheerness.

* MR. MANSFIELD (Lincolnshire, Spalding)

Said he had not heard any reason given why they should not vote for the proposed reduction. The main in the street would say, looking back on the history of Wei-Hai-Wei, that we took it because we were ordered out of Port Arthur by Russia. We then took this port to show that we had got an equivalent. It was to be a wonderful place when fortified. What was the reason for the Government's change of front in regard to Wei-Hai-Wei? The only explanation was that it was the War Office that conceived the idea of fortifying it, and therefore must it now be given up. It seemed to him that the War Office would be better engaged attending to its own business. If they were to have a change of work as between one office and another, he would suggest that the Admiralty should take to the buying of horses. It could buy them quite as well, and he was certain that it could not buy them worse, than the War Office. What had been stated in answer to the hon. Member for King's Lynn showed that the Admiralty had been as lax in regard to soundings round our foreshores at Gibraltar as the War Office had been in regard to maps of South Africa.

(10.0.) MR. DILLON

said that every session for two or three years past several hours were wasted in Committee in debates between experts as to whether Wei-Hai-Wei should be treated as a first or a second-class naval station. When that town was first taken from the Chinese, the First Lord of the Treasury and the representative of the Admiralty made most eloquent speeches, in which they assured Parliament that all the best experts concurred in regarding Wei-Hai-Wei as the best naval station in the north of China, and they were told over and over again that it could be made a more powerful naval base than Port Arthur. Now, what value were they to attach to the opinions of the naval experts at the Admiralty in view of what had occurred? They were now told that all idea of using it as a naval base had been abandoned. If so, why were they going to spend more money on it? When they heard the representative of the Admiralty calling for money to spend on a new pier, a hospital, a canteen, and a recreation ground for a small coaling station, that was in pursuance of a Chinese, not a European policy—a policy of "saving their face." He would recall the fact that the First Lord of the Treasury had said that Wei-Hai-Wei could never be a commercial town, because the British Government had given an undertaking to the German Government that Wei-Hai-Wei would never be connected to the back country and that no railway would be built. It was therefore an isolated spot, cut off from the interior German territory. They were told now that a pier and a hospital were to be built, and he assumed therefore that Wei-Hai-Wei was to be permanently retained. If that were so, what a mockery was the whole policy of this country! We had found fault with the Russian Government for encroaching on the territorial integrity of the Chinese Empire, and we had entered into an alliance with the Japanese nation to guarantee the territorial integrity of the Chinese Empire; but England was just as guilty of interfering with the territorial integrity of the Chinese Empire as either Germany or Russia. The English Government now announced to the world that they intended to retain Wei-Hai-Wei, although it was acknowledged to be of no substantial use as a naval station. What folly and nonsense, then, it was to enter into an alliance to maintain the territorial integrity of China. On principle it did not matter whether a town like Wei-Hai-Wei was taken, or a whole, province like Manchuria. He maintained that Wei-Hai-Wei ought to be returned to the Chinese Government as a guarantee of the sincerity of the English Government in the wish to maintain the territorial integrity of the Chinese Empire. When Wei-Hai-Wei was taken over, a Chinese regiment was enrolled as a garrison. Was that regiment to be transferred elsewhere?


ruled that the hon. Member could not discuss the question of the Chinese regiment under this Vote.


said he understood that the question of the policy of retaining Wei-Hai-Wei was involved in this Vote; and he had simply alluded to the Chinese regiment as part of that policy. If ruled out of order, he would raise the Question on another opportunity.

(10.13.) MR. CALDWELL

saw no use in erecting a pier at Wei-Hai-Wei, for ships could be discharged and men landed by means of steam tenders. He understood that Wei-Hai-Wei was to be placed under the jurisdiction and control of the Colonial Office, and the sums asked for in this Vote should have been embraced in the Colonial Office Vote, which included already £12,000 for Wei-Hai-Wei. It was unfair to disperse the Estimates in that way, because the Committee did not comprehend the total sum that was to be expended in a given place. Given the Government policy that the place was to be a sanatorium, there was no ground whatever for the expenditure of money on a pier where, as a matter of fact, the Navy could use its launches.


said he desired to ask a question with reference to the contract the Admiralty had entered into with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company for a cable to Wei-Hai-Wei. What use would that cable be if the place was only to be used as a seaside resort with a pier and a band on it!


I do not see anything with regard to a cable to Wei-Hai-Wei in this Vote.


said he might not have been strictly in order, and would not pursue the matter. He wished to know if it was naval strategy that made it incumbent on the Admiralty to spend money on a pier at Wei-Hai-Wei. The Admiralty disclaimed any intention of making it a naval station, and, therefore, he thought his Amendment to reduce the sum by £5,000 was a very reasonable one, especially as £1,000 could not be obtained for piers on the west coast of Ireland, where they would be much more useful.

*(10.20.) MR. PRETYMAN

said in reply to the question of the hon. Member for South Salford as to entrance to Sheerness, the river at the entrance was sufficiently deep in any state of the tide for the largest vessels. The bar was above that, and the channel there was not accessible to ships in all states of the tide. The largest ship in the Navy had a draught of about twenty-seven feet, whereas there were thirty-six feet at low water at Sheerness, leaving a considerable margin of nine feet. As regarded Wei-Hai-Wei, there was a temporary pier there already, and it would be impossible to land without having a pier.


said he wished to ask one question on behalf of his hon. friend, and that was why, if naval hospitals were to be erected at Wei-Hai-Wei, the Government had not asked for money for them in the Estimates


said it was because they proposed to provide the accommodation gradually and did not propose to erect all the buildings at once.

(10.23.) Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 81; Noes, 185. (Division List No. 66.)

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Hammond, John O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)
Allen, Charles P. (Glouc., St'oud Hayden, John Patrick O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N
Ambrose, Robert Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- O'Malley, William
Blake, Edward Helme, Norval Watson O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Boland, John Hemphili, Rt.Hon. Charles H. O'Shee, James John
Burke, E. Haviland Holland, William Henry Pirie, Duncan V.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Joyce, Michael Power, Patrick Joseph
Cawley, Frederick Kearley, Hudson E. Rea, Russell
Channing, Francis Allston Kennedy, Patrick James Roche, John
Conan, Denis J. Layland-Barratt, Francis Runciman, Walter
Condon, Thomas Joseph Levy, Maurice Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Craig, Robert Hunter Lundon, W. Sheehan, Daniel Daniel.
Crean, Eugene MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Cremer, William Randal McVeagh, Jeremiah Sullivan, Donal
Cullinan, J. M'Hugh, Patrick A. Thomson, E. W. (Vork, W. R.)
Delany, William M'Kean, John Tomkinson, James
Dillon, John M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Donelan, Captain A. Mansfield, Horace Rendall Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Doogan, P. C. Markham, Arthur Basil Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Farquharson, Dr. Robert. Murphy. John Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Farrell, Jmaes Patrick Nannetti, Joseph P. Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Fenwick, Charles Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Woodhouse, Sir. J. T. (H'ddersf'd
Ffrench, Peter O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid Young, Samuel
Flynn, James Christopher O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Fuller, J. M. F. O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Gilhooly, James O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Mr. O' Mara and Mr.Cald well.
Grant, Corrie O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O,Dowd, John
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Cayzer, Sir Charles William Finch, George H.
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Firbank, Joseph Thomas
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm. Fisher, William Hayes
Allan, William (Gateshead) Chamberlain,. J. Austen (Wore'r Fison, Frederick William
Allhusen, Augustus H'nry Eden Chapman, Edward Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon
Anson, Sir William Reynell Charrington, Spencer Flannery, Sir Fortescue
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Coclirane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Coghill, Douglas Harry Flower, Ernest
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick
Austin, Sir John Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Gordon. Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn
Bailey, James (Walworth) Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)
Bain, Colonel James Robert Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Graham, Henry Robert
Baird, John George Alexander Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton) Gray, Ernest (West Ham)
Balfour. Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r Cubitt, Hon. Henry Green, Walford D. (W'dnesbury
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Dalrymple, Sir Charles Groves, James Grimble
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds Davenport, William Bromley- Outline, Walter Murray
Banbury, Frederick George Davies, Sir Horatio D.(C'atham Hamilton, Rt Hn LordG (Midd'x
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Denny, Colonel Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Diekson-Poynder, Sir John P. Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf rd
Bignold, Arthur Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Hare, Thomas Leigh
Blundell, Colonel Henry Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Harmsworth, R. Leicester
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Dorington, Sir John Edward Hay, Hon. Claude George
Boscawen, Arthur Grifhth- Douglas. Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley
Brookfield, Colonel Montagu Duke, Henry Edward Heath, James (Stattbrds. N. W.
Bull, William James Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton Helder, Augustus
Bullard, Sir Harry Emmott, Alfred Henderson, Alexander
Butcher, John George Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.) Higginbottom, S. W.
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Hobhouse, Hemy (Somerset,E.
Cavendish, V. C. AY. (D'rbyshire Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r Hogg, Lindsay
Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)
Houston, Robert Paterson Nicholson, William Graham Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Hudson, George Bickersteth Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Smith, HC (North'mb. Tyneside
Johnston, William (Belfast) Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.)
Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Pease, Herbert Pike (D'rlington Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh) Peel, Hn. Wm. Robt. Wellesley Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset
Knowles, Lees Perks, Robert William Stewart, Sir Mark, J. M 'Taggart
Law, Andrew Bonar Pierpoint, Robert Stone, Sir Benjamin
Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth) Platt-Higgins, Frederick Stroyan, John
Lawson, John Grant Plummer, Walter R. Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Lee, Arthur H. (Hants. Fareh' m Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Pretyman, Ernest George Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Llewellyn, Evan Henry Priestley, Arthur Thornton, Percy M.
Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol,S Purvis, Robert Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Lowe, Francis William Pym, C. Guy Tritton, Charles Ernest
Loyd, Archie Kirkman Randles, John S. Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Rasch, Major Frederic Carne Tuke, Sir John Batty
Macartney, Rt Hn W. G. Ellison Reid, James (Greenock) Valentia, Viscount
Macdona, John Cumming Renshaw, Charles Bine Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
MacIver, David (Liverpool) Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalylbridge Warde, Colonel C. E.
M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green Wason John Catheart (OrkneY)
Manners, Lord Cecil Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (T'unton
Maxwel WJH (Dumfriesshire Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield) Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd
Melville, Beresford Valentine Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Rolleston, Sir.John F. L. Willox, Sir John Archibald
Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter Wilson, A. Stanley(York, E. R.)
Moore, William (Antrim, N.) Royds, Clement Molyneux Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Morgan, David J (W'lthamstow Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford- Wilson,J. W. (Worcestersh N.)
Morrell, George Herbert Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Moulton, Arthur H. A. (Deptf'rd) Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse) Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson
Moulton, John Fletcher Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert Wylie, Alexander
Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Muntz, Philip A. Seton-Karr, Henry Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute Sharpe, William Edward T.

Resolution agreed to.

4. £2,661,500, Shipbuilding, Repairs, Maintenance, &c.—Personnel.

*(10.35.) MR. KEARLEY

asked whether, if the right hon. Gentleman succeeded in obtaining the first part of the Vote, the general discussion would remain open when the Vote was discussed at its further stages.


said he understood that that was the usual practice.


said there was no doubt that the enlarged Navy had come to stay — the constructive Vote had trebled in the course of the last ten years. Instead of being £5,000,000, as it was ten years ago, it was now £15,000,000. Everybody would agree that the construction of these mammoth ships was highly scientific, arid that the highest skill was necessary for the performance of naval architecture, and, therefore, it behoved the Government and the country to secure the very best talent possible, for this Department. He complained that when the talent required was secured the Government were unable to keep it. The Naval Construction Department was not only underpaid but undermanned. The result of the underpay was that the best men were constantly being tempted away by private firms who paid higher salaries than the Government. The hon. Member instanced several cases of this kind in November, of which the Government were only able to get them back by largely increasing the pay. The Government, he contended, were constantly shedding their best men, and in order to retain their staff, they would have to face the question of emolument. When Sir William White and Mr Philip Watts returned to the Admiralty, from which they had been tempted away by private firms, they relinquished considerably higher salaries than they were now paid, which showed that there was something very attractive in Admiralty employment; but their salaries were the only adequate salaries paid. The ordinary salary of a Director of Naval Construction was £1500, rising to £1800, after five years service, but the Government did not offer that salary to Sir William White and Mr. Philip Watts. Sir William White came back at £5500 whilst Mr. Watts declined to return under £3,000 a year. It. was a great mistake on the part of the Government not to give men like these not only an adequate salary, but also an adequate staff. When the Navy Constructors was £5,000,000 they had two chief constructors at the Admiralty, now the Vote was £15,000,000 they had only three, and those men commenced at a salary of £700 and rose by annual increments of £25 to £850. It was almost an insult to offer such men an annual increment as low as £25.But when they rose to £850 there was no further prospect before them. Two of the biggest dockyards were Devonport and Chatham, yet the chief constructors there only received £600 a year rising to £750. He asked whether business men would give so paltry a salary to such men. He knew perfectly well they would do nothing of the kind, because if they did the inevitable result would be that they would be tempted away by other firms who offered greater inducements. But that was the position of the Admiralty today, all their best men were being enticed away with offers of better salaries. The question struck him as being a very important one. He could not help thinking that Sir William White had not had a sufficient staff to carry out the stupendous work which he did with such great success and credit. That official would probably go down to history as the greatest naval constructor of all time, at any rate up to the present. He seriously complained of the cheese-paring policy of the Admiralty in giving men holding positions of the greatest responsibility such inadequate salaries, and he asked whether there was any intention on the part of the Department to go into the question.


entirely agreed with the hon. Member that there could be no more important question for the Admiralty to consider than that to which he had referred. But it was true, as had been stated, that both Sir William White and Mr. Watts received special allowances, and, after all, the proof of the pudding was in the eating. These two eminent men had rendered services which perhaps money could not adequately repay, but they had both quite willingly entered the service of the country on the terms the country offered. He agreed it was important that the constructors' branch should provide men who would in every way second the efforts of their Chief, and, if they were competent to do so, he hoped they would be retained. He did not think, however, it was correct to say that service under private firms drew so largely from the staff of the Admiralty. He believed he was right, in saying that the number of constructors who had left the Admiralty during the period of their service had been remarkably small. But it was a, point to he remembered that the Admiralty had been able to get their services back again when they were particularly valuable to the country. Whether it might be possible at some period to obtain the co-operation of private firms, in designing as well as in shipbuilding, was a matter worthy of serious attention. The hon. Member had not stated the facts quite fully in connection with the emoluments of constructors, for there were allowances to be considered. Here, again, it was necessary to look at the facts. The Admiralty had always been able to get the services of exceedingly competent men for the salaries offered. While it was common experience that the salaries given were not so large as those sometimes given by private firms, yet attached to the Government service there were considerations, such as the certainty and the distinction of the employment, and the certainty of a pension after a fixed term of service, which made these posts attractive to men of great eminence and capabilities. With regard to the Constructive Department, the hon. Member was undoubtedly right in saying there had been too much pressure, and he would be glad to know that the work of re-constructing the Department, of which the Constructive Department was a branch, was engaging the active attention of the Admiralty; and he believed that as the result of arrangements to be made they would be able to give greater liberty to the new director of Naval Construction, to relieve him of work which should not properly be put upon him and to give him in the future a staff more adequate to relieve him of the enormous pressure in the important work he had to undertake.


said there were a few words in the First Lord's Memorandum which seemed almost to suggest that the pressure on the Controller's Department was so great as to stop any further increase of the Fleet. He was very glad, therefore, to hear the remarks of the Secretary to the Admiralty with regard to the re-organisation of the Department. It was impossible to justify the smallness of the new programme this year—a programme actually smaller than that of each of several other naval Powers—on the ground of the pressure of that particular Department.

Resolutions to be reported tomorrow.

Committee to sit again tomorrow.