HC Deb 18 May 1905 vol 146 cc828-52

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,905,200, 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, 1906."


said he rose to renew his Motion for the reduction of item D. by £550. He was afraid the explanation that had been given so far was not satisfactory, and did not in any way clear up the mystery of the cold-meat store, which was originally intended not for a cold-meat store but an ammunition store. This item had been on the Votes for some years and it had increased year by year. Originally it was £30,000, now it was £48,000, and they had no assurance that they had yet seen the end of this expenditure. He thought, under these circumstances, he was justified in taking the sense of the Committee with regard to the waste and extravagance which had taken place.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item D (Victualling Yards) be reduced by £550."—(Mr. Whitley.)


said this question interested him as a ratepayer. It appeared that the War Office thought they would like to make a store for ammunition, and they proceeded to spend a large sum of money in digging a hole in the Rock for that purpose. Then suddenly they discovered that the place was absolutely unfit for the purpose, and so, seeking for some excuse by means of which they could justify their expenditure, they said, "Let us turn it into a cold-meat store." And on the cold-meat store they spent more money. He did not agree with the hon. Member for Mayo that the amount of money spent upon it was an unheard of amount to spend for such a purpose, because one could spend any amount for a cold-meat store. The real question was whether it was necessary to turn this ammunition store into a cold-meat store. He thought hon. Gentlemen opposite were fairly justified in the stand they had taken. The question they raised was a fair question. He should like to know who suggested to the War Office that this place was suitable for an ammunition store, and who was responsible for the system of dual control, which he understood had been condemned by the Public Accounts Committee. He hoped the debate which had taken place would be the death blow to that system of control, for which neither was responsible but in regard to which both the Army and the Navy had to pay its quota towards the expenditure on any works that were undertaken. He could not see that any reasons had been given by the Secretary to the Admiralty for this cold-meat store, which was not finished and never would be. All the hon. Member had said was that he was not responsible for it and that he had no explanation to give. The Secretary to the War Office, who had been sent for in a hurry, also confessed that he knew nothing about it and could not explain it. The Gentlemen who represented Government Departments surely ought to know something about the Votes they had to defend.

MR. MORRISON (Wiltshire, Wilton)

said, so far as he could gather, what hon. Members objected to was that there should be a cold-meat store provided in Gibraltar, but if they had been to Gibraltar they would see that if there was one thing wanted more than another it was a cold-meat store. The men would not eat what was called hard rations; they objected to tinned meats and so forth, and it was very necessary that there should be some means of preserving fresh food.

SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)

said that hon. Gentlemen opposite had shown a legitimate interest in the Vote now before the House. Though undoubtedly it was a useful function for the House of Commons to criticise the Estimates, at the same time those who criticised ought to be prepared to show not only that there had been an error but the way in which that error might be remedied. It was very easy to criticise, but not quite so easy to carry out great works and undertakings such as the erection of this cold-meat store. If anyone was to blame for what had taken place it was the old system of dual control—a system which neither the Army nor the Navy was responsible for and which they could not repudiate. This matter had received the attention of the Public Accounts Committee, and the explanation was that, as usual, when one Department did work for the other the result was unsatisfactory. It would be well that each Department should provide for its own wants.


agreed that was desirable, but there were occasions when work had to be done for both services. In this instance a cold store was required for joint naval and military use, and a joint committee which considered the question as to whether they should have an entirely new building or adapt a building originally intended for an ammunition store decided upon the latter, and did this in order to save the difference in expenditure between £55,000 and £40,000. The Estimate was exceeded, which was unfortunate, but not unusual in contracts of this kind, but still a considerable saving was effected. The discrepancy between the Army and Navy figures was explained by the latter Estimates having been submitted before the actual amount was ascertained. The sum was not excessive considering that the store was intended to serve for the whole Gibraltar garrison in the event of a siege of unknown duration, that it was bomb proof, and that unexpected difficulties were met with in rock excavations and water pumping.

MR. RENWICK (Newcastle-on-Tyne)

said he was grateful to hon. Members opposite for having given the Committee an opportunity for discussing this Vote. He was glad that for once they had found the military authorities and the naval authorities working in harmony, a thing which they did not find often in the past. In other days, when one service commenced a useless work and finally abandoned it, it was left to go to rack and ruin. Now they found that when a work was finished and found to be unsuitable for the purpose for which it was erected the heads of these great spending Departments formed a joint committee and endeavoured to turn the work to some use. The hon. Member for Wilton appeared to be the only Member who had seen this cold store, and in his opinion the expenditure on it had been justified. For his part, he thought the best way of dealing with this Vote was to adjourn it, and that the Admiralty should put a man-of-war at the service of the House in order that the House might inspect this work and judge for themselves. Knowing something of the cost of refrigerating machinery and of excavations for cold storage, he submitted that £48,000 was not an excessive price for the accommodation here provided. It was absolutely necessary that the naval and military forces should be supplied with fresh food, and if a vote were taken he should follow the lead of the hon. Member for the Leek Division who had actually seen the place.

MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD (Liverpool, West Derby)

pointed out that there had been already voted, for this, work £47,300, and it was now proposed to add for machinery and rolling stock £8,900 and £1,800, making in all £58.000. But it had been stated that the building de novo would cost only £50.000; consequently he failed to understand why £58,000 was required. Another point that ought to be explained was why only £550 was expected to be spent during the whole of the financial year, seeing that in the financial year ended March 31st, 1904, no less than £20,700 was estimated to be spent. He agreed that cold storage was absolutely necessary at Gibraltar; the astonishing thing was that it had not been provided long since. Nothing was more calculated to keep the Government out of difficulties with contractors than that they should provide cold storage for themselves. According to a foot-note, the work was being carried out solely by the War Office, so that the dual control to which objection had been taken did not exist, and hon. Members ought to have withheld their criticisms until the War Office Votes were under discussion.


remarked that there had been a system of cold storage at Gibraltar for some time, but it had been confined to hulks in the bay, and consequently would have been altogether useless in time of war. Now that Gibraltar was the head-quarters of a great Imperial Fleet adequate cold storage was absolutely necessary, and if hon. Members had had an opportunity of visiting the place they would not criticise the present proposal.

CAPTAIN ELLICE (St. Andrews Burghs)

asked what had become of the ammunition store for which the Estimate was originally put down.


said the only point the representative of the War Office had made clear was that the Estimate was altogether wrong and ought to be withdrawn. On the hon. Member's own showing there was a discrepancy of £1,400 between the Army Estimate and the Navy Estimate for the same work, but on neither of them did the moiety to be paid by the War Office amount to £26,000 as stated by the Army authorities. The Committee ought to be told upon what other Estimate that sum was based. The protests of the Opposition were directed not against the provision of cold storage at Gibraltar, but against the delay and the misleading Estimates. Who was the genius who informed the War Office that this site was the best possible for an ammunition store, overlooking the facts that tons of water came into it daily, and that it was within range of any fire that might be directed against it by an opposing force? The reasons which made the site unsuitable for an ammunition store had equal force in the matter of cold storage. The discussion had revealed a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. The Civil Lord had admitted that he knew nothing whatever about the details of the Vote he was asking the Committee to sanction, and the War Office representative whose assistance had been called in was equally ignorant in the matter.


said the discrepancy between the two Estimates was more serious than he had supposed, and it was nothing short of a public scandal that such figures should be placed before Parliament. The total cost was put down at £48,700, while the amount already voted was £38,500, and the estimated expenditure during the current financial year was £21,650, making a total of not £48,000, but £60,000. It should be noted, moreover, that this was merely for the "conversion."

MR. SOARES (Devonshire, Barnstaple)

thought the Committee ought to press for information as to what had become of the ammunition store.


ruled that the Committee could not discuss the question of the ammunition store on this Vote.


asked whether the Government were going to treat the debate with silent contempt. For a long time the Committee were unable to get any information on the subject under discussion, and when at last they managed to secure his attendance the representative of the War Office was unable to give any satisfaction whatever. He had admitted that the money was voted in the first instance for an ammunition store, and that the site had been found to be unsuitable for the purpose. The Committee were entitled to know whether the expenditure was really necessary, and whether the official who advised the Government with regard to the ammunition store was still in the employment of the Department. He hoped they would have some further explanation of the figures placed before the Committee before the Estimate was passed. The representative of the War Office had just made a remarkable statement. He told them that by turning this ammunition store into a meat store they were making preparations in case there happened to be a siege of Gibraltar. [An HON. MEMBER: Why not?] He would tell the hon. Member opposite why not. The Prime Minister told them the other day that a siege of Gibraltar was absolutely impossible; therefore the opinion of the Financial Secretary to the War Office was opposed to that of the Prime Minister. He hoped the representative of the War Office would undertake that in future a full investigation should take place before such a heavy expenditure was incurred. He wished to have some assurance that in the future these Estimates would be put forward in a businesslike way. This kind of dual responsibility for expenditure ought to be brought to an end, for it was a system which had been strongly condemned by the Public Accounts Committee, and why was it allowed to continue. Dual responsibility in these matters always meant the squandering of public money.


said in reply to the hon. Member for East Mayo that £48,700 was the total amount, and that expenditure was divided between the Army and the Navy.


asked what was the total cost to the Admiralty of their share of this item. The work had been estimated wrongly, and he wished to know what the cost was going to be on the corrected Estimate.


was understood to say that the amount would be £26,000.


said that was £3,000 more than the Estimate, and he wished to know why that figure had not been put in the proper column.


said that greater confusion had now been caused because another figure had been given. It said that half was to be paid by the Admiralty and half by the War Office, but if they multiplied that total by two it gave them £52,000, an amount which was not mentioned in the Estimate. He wished to know how those representing the Government made out that £26,000 was half of £48,000.


explained that the figure referred to by the hon. Member contained certain subsidiary services as well, but £48,700 was the cost of providing this cold store.


asked if the sum mentioned was all that would be required in connection with this mattter.


said he was not concerned with the Navy Estimates, but he knew that half of £48,000 would be contributed in all by the Admiralty partly last year, partly this year, and partly during the next four years. The total amount provided by the Admiralty would be £24,000.


said he had not heard a whisper of explanation in regard to the Question he put as to the amount that would be required from the Admiralty to complete this work. Why had the amount not been put in the last column?


admitted that it was a complicated matter and most difficult to understand. It was due to the Estimate having been increased two or three times by one Department and having to be paid by two other Departments. It was an unfortunate system, but absolutely unavoidable. [OPPOSITION cries of "No!"] At any rate no hon. Member had suggested any other method of dealing with it. It was obvious that it would be cheaper to build one store than two, and better that it should be built by one Department than by two. If any hon. Member would suggest a better way than that he should be glad to hear of it. He hoped the Committee, having discussed the matter for more than two hours, would now agree to the Vote.


said he did not think that the explanation given by the Secretary to the Admiralty was the right one. If he looked carefully at the figures he would find that that could not be the explanation. The difference in the Estimate according to the statement made by the Financial Secretary to the War Office was £1,500, but the difference pointed out by the hon. Member for Dundee was £1,350 for the Army share, and that, being only half, would bring it up to £2,700.


said the Civil Lord would have the matter fully gone into, and he would furnish an explanation in detail.


who was received with Ministerial cries of "Divide," said the hon. Members who desired to shout him down had conducted for an hour after 9 o'clock a sham debate in order to waste time. That kind of thing was absolutely intolerable. He did not agree that this system of dual control was unavoidable. Works of the kind under consideration should be constructed and paid for by either the Admiralty or the War Office, instead of by both. What did it matter to the taxpayer whether the War Office or the Admiralty paid the money. All they wanted was that the work should be properly controlled. To hear a Minister declare that it was impossible to do away with the system of dual control in a matter of this kind was absurd.


said that as the Vote was entirely incorrect he desired to know if the Secretary to the Admiralty would place the whole of the facts before the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister, who was the President of the Imperial Defence Committee. Perhaps in future, if his suggestion were acted upon, they might have these matters conducted upon a more business like basis.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 101, Noes, 151. Division List No. 164.)

Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Pilkington, Colonel Richard Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R. Platt-Higgins, Frederick Tuff, Charles
Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S Plummer, Sir Walter R. Tuke, Sir John Batty
Lonsdale, John Brownlee Pretyman, Ernest George Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Lowe, Francis William Purvis, Robert Walker, Col. William Hall
Loyd, Archie Kirkman Randles, John S. Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H
Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne Warde, Colonel C. E.
Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine Webb, Colonel William George
Macdona, John Cumming Renwick, George Welby, Lt.-Col. A C E (Taunton.
M'Arthur, Charles Liverpool Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon
M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield) Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd
Majendie, James A. H. Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Martin, Richard Biddulph Rutherford, John (Lancashire) Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Maxwell, W. J. H (Dumfriesshire Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool) Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.) Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Morgan, David J (Walthamstow Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Morpeth, Viscount Sharpe, William Edward T. Wylie, Alexander
Morrell, George Herbert Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand) Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Morrison, James Archibald Spear, John Ward Younger, William
Mount, William Arthur Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lancs.)
Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir
Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Stock, James Henry Alexander Acland-Hood and
O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens Stroyan, John Viscount Valentia.
Percy, Earl Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley

Original Question again proposed.

MR. WHITLEY moved that the Vote should be reduced by £15,000, which, he said, was part of a total sum already partly voted for a residence for the Commander-in-Chief at Chatham. There was an item of £7,000 on the Estimates last year in connection with this matter, and he took the opportunity of protesting then against the extravagant nature of this expenditure. An additional sum of £1,500 was now put down for furniture, and he supposed that £3,000 would probably be required altogether before the furnishing was completed, bringing the total cost of this residence up to £28,000. When the matter was under discussion last year they had the interesting admission from the right hon. and gallant Member for Great Yarmouth that it was necessary to have a magnificent palace of this sort because it was desirable that the Commander-in-Chief should entertain society. He should have thought that an admiral could be better employed than in attending social functions. The providing of a smaller house for him would have been more satisfactory in saving the money of the taxpayers. He understood that there was already a good house for the Commander-in-Chief at Sheerness, and that, apart from its position, nothing better could be desired. It was because it had been decided to remove the official residence from Sheerness to Chatham that this large amount was asked for. He protested against the building of houses of this sort even for high officers. It meant that no man without a private income could undertake offices which implied entertaining and widespread hospitality. In the past the Navy more than the Army had been free from that kind of snobbery. He was sure nothing was more detrimental to efficiency than having high posts barred to men who had to live on their pay. In this case there was an allowance of £450 a year for servants in order to keep up the establishment. An admiral with a pay of £3,000 a year was not in a position to keep up a house of this sort.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item E (Naval Barracks and General Fleet Services) be reduced by £15,000."—(Mr. Whitley.)

MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

said he wished to associate himself with the hon. Member for Halifax in protesting against the extravagance of building palaces for officers connected with the Navy. He thought the House scarcely realised the amount of money which was being spent in this way. Some of those who lived in houses of five or six rooms thought that a little more discretion might be exercised in regard to houses for officers of the Army and Navy. The sum of £25,000 which the house for the Commander-in-Chief was to cost was equal to the amount required, to build 100 houses of six rooms each in a town in Lancashire. The amount now asked for furniture was out of all reason, and yet he believed that it would not be sufficient to furnish the house, and that another item would appear in the Vote next year for the same purpose. He wished the House and the country to know what they were paying for. How many rooms were there in the place, and what were they going to be used for? The hon. Member for Halifax had stated that the Commander-in-Chief could not, without a private income, maintain the position expected of him. He was afraid another result of this extravagant expenditure would be that the salary must be kept up in order that the Commander-in-Chief might be able to entertain and live in a style commensurate with the character of his dwelling-house. The Government were piling on expenses in this way, while the country was groaning under the unemployed and the terrible strain which the inhabitants of the large towns had to undergo in providing work for poor people. He thought the time had come when some economy should be practised. It was absolutely unnecessary that the country should spend anything like £25,000 on a house for any official.


said it seemed to him that the Estimate they were now considering was one of extraordinary extravagance. At present the salary and allowances of the Commander-in-Chief amounted to £3,320. He would ask the Civil Lord whether he thought that a man in the position of an admiral, and with such an income, could keep up a house which was to cost £25,000, and, on account of his official position, do a certain amount of entertaining. He believed the Commander-in-Chief ought to have an official residence, but there was no reason why he should have a palace. He objected to the waste of money in building an extravagantly expensive establishment. There had been complaints as to the want of officers for the Army owing to the fact that they could not live on their pay. The Navy had not suffered from want of officers for the same reason, but if positions were to be created which could only be held by gentlemen having private means apart from official salary, that condition would sink downwards, and the Navy would come to be in the same position in that matter as the Army. What was the reason for removing the official residence from Sheerness to Chatham? Would £25,000 meet the total cost in connection with the residence, or would additional sums be required later on? Was the £25,000 for bricks and mortar, or did it include an extravagant price paid for the land on which the house was built?


explained that the £25,000 represented not merely the estimate for building a residence for the Commander-in-Chief, but also large offices for the accommodation of his retinue and staff, offices in which the whole work of his office would be done. It was desirable that the Commander-in-Chief should be at the centre of his work rather than at Sheerness, twenty miles down the river. The furniture was not charged to this Vote. The reference to it was put here for information.


It does not appear anywhere else.


In any case it does not appear in this Vote, and it would be out of order to discuss it now.


What is to become of the Sheerness house?


I am not yet in a position to say, because it will be a year or a year and a-half before the new house is ready.


hoped the working classes of the country would take note of the fact that £25,000 was being spent on the housing of an Admiralty official at a time when the Government could not afford a meal for poor half-fed children. He hoped that would sink deep into the hearts of working men, and that they would remember it at the ballot. It could be perfectly well seen that the Navy was run on class principles, the poor being robbed for the payment of highly-placed people.


The Commander-in-Chief pays for his own furniture.


What is the £1,500 for?


For fixtures.


asked whether it was possible for the Commander-in-Chief to live in this house on the pay he received.


said it was considered a suitable size for the Commander-in-Chief with the salary provided for him.


asked how much was being spent on accommodation for the

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Harwood, George O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H. Parrott, William
Ainsworth, John Stirling Higham, John Sharp Pirie, Duncan V.
Allen, Charles P. Johnson, John Power, Patrick Joseph
Barlow, John Emmott Joyce, Michael Reddy, M.
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Kearley, Hudson, E. Richards, Thomas (W Monm'th
Benn, John Williams Kennedy, V. P. (Cavan, W.) Rickett, J. Compton
Black, Alexander William Kilbride, Denis Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Boland, John Lamont, Norman Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Bright, Allan Heywood Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.) Roche, John
Brown, George M. (Edinburgh) Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall) Roe, Sir Thomas
Caldwell, James Layland-Barratt, Francis Schwann, Charles E.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Lewis, John Herbert Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)
Causton, Richard Knight Lundon, W. Slack, John Bamford
Channing, Francis Allston Lyell, Charles Henry Soares, Ernest J.
Crean, Eugene MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Spencer, Rt. Hn. G. R (Northants
Cremer, William Randal MacVeagh, Jeremiah Stanhope, Hn. Philip James
Delany, William M'Crae, George Sullivan, Donal
Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway M'Fadden, Edward Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh. M'Hugh, Patrick A. Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)
Dilke, Rt. Hn. Sir Charles M'Kean, John Wallace, Robert
Dillon, John M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) White, George (Norfolk)
Doogan, P. C. Mooney, John J. White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Duncan, J. Hastings Murphy, John Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)
Edwards, Frank Nannetti, Joseph P Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Wills, Arthur Walters (N. Dorset
Eve, Harry Trelawney O'Brien, K. (Tipperary Mid.) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
Ffrench, Peter O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Woodhouse, Sir J T. (Huddersf'd
Findlay, Alex. (Lanark, N. E.) O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) Young, Samuel
Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.
Goddard, Daniel Ford O'Dowd, John Shackleton and Mr. Henderson
Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Berwick) O'Mara, James
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O Bailey, James (Walworth)
Anson, Sir William Reynell Arrol, Sir William Bain, Colonel James Robert
Arkwright, John Stanhope Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Balcarres, Lord

Commander-in-Chief, and how much on accommodation for the staff.


said the accommodation was all under one roof, and, although he could not apportion the cost, he could state that a large portion of the building consisted of offices for the accommodation of the staff.


asked how much was paid for the land.


said nothing was paid for the land, because the house was built on Government land.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 95; Noes, 151. (Division List No. 165.)

Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.
Balfour, Capt. C B. (Hornsey) Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nds O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch. Grenfell, William Henry Percy, Earl
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Gretton, John Pilkington, Colonel Richard
Bartley, Sir George C. T. Groves, James Grimble Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Bentinck, Lord Henry G. Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nderry Plummer, Sir Walter R.
Bignold, Sir Arthur Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th Pretyman, Ernest George
Bill, Charles Hay, Hon. Claude George Purvis, Robert
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith Heath, Sir Jas. (Staffords, N. W Randles, John S.
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Heaton, John Henniker Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne
Brotherton, Edward Allen Helder, Augustus Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine
Brymer, William Ernest Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W. Renwick, George
Bull, William James Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T. Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson
Carlile, William Walter Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)
Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H. Hoult, Joseph Rolleston, Sir John F. L.
Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire) Howard, J. (Kent, Faversham) Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse Rutherford, John (Lancashire)
Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A (Worc. Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool
Chapman, Edward Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh) Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Coates, Edward Feetham Keswick, William Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. King, Sir Henry Seymour Sharpe, William Edward T.
Colomb, Rt. Hon. Sir John C. R. Lambton, Hn. Frederick Wm. Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Laurie, Lieut-General Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lanes.)
Compton, Lord Alwyne Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S. Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool Strutt, Hn. Charles Hedley
Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile Lawson, John Grant (Yorks N R Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Davenport, William Bromley Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Tuff, Charles
Dickson, Charles Scott Lockwood, Lieut-Col. A. R. Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Doughty, Sir George Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S Walker, Col. William Hall
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lonsdale, John Brownlee Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. H.
Doxford, Sir William Theodore Lowe, Francis William Warde, Colonel C. E.
Duke, Henry Edward Loyd, Archie Kirkman Webb, Colonel William George
Fellowes, Rt. Hn. Ailwyn Edw. Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunton
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Manc'r Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Macdona, John Cumming Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Finlay, Sir R. B. (Inv'rnessB'ghs M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Fisher, William Hayes Majendie, James A. H. Wortley, Rt. Hn. G. B. Stuart
Fitzgerald, Sir Robert Penrose Martin, Richard Biddulph Wylie, Alexander
Flannery, Sir Fortescue Maxwell, W. J. H (Dumfriesshire Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Forster, Henry William Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants) Younger William
Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.) Morgan, David J (Walthamstow
Gardner, Ernest Morpeth, Viscount TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir
Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk. Morrell, George Herbert Alexander Acland-Hood and
Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn) Morton, Arthur H. Aymer Viscount Valentia.
Gordon, Maj. Evans (T'rH'mlets Mount, William Arthur

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £336,400, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expenses of the Admiralty Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1906."


said he understood that they were to have a discussion on the discarded ships. It was rather late that night to enter upon such a discussion, and he hoped the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty would not take this Vote that night.


said he had no intention of taking the Vote that night, and he moved that Progress be reported.

MR. SWIFT MACNEILL moved to reduce the Vote for the salary of the First Lord of the Admiralty by £100, in order to raise the question of flogging and "ragging" in the Navy. Hon. Members who professed to be gentlemen ought to treat him with ordinary courtesy when he spoke on a question of humanity. Although this practice of flogging in the Navy had been suspended since 1884 by an order of the Admiralty, the Lords of the Admiralty could, by a stroke of the pen, revive it, and to-day in every King's. ship, as part of the equipment, there, was a cat-o'-nine-tails. Flogging had been abolished in the Army for twenty-five years, but youths in the Royal Navy under eighteen were subject, for the smallest and most trivial offence, after a summary trial, to castigation with twenty-four strokes by a birch which had been steamed over the coppers to make it hard. The strokes were administered on the bare flesh, in presence of all the other boys on board ship, and the youth was immediately afterwards removed to a cell below watermark and kept for twenty-four hours. These youths could be flogged because they could not swim properly, because their boots were not properly polished, because there was a speck of dirt on their clothes, or because their manner did not seem to be seemly to their superior officer. He had had letters from parents, from clergymen, and from deserters from the Navy on the subject; and he asked for a Commission or a Committee to investigate the whole subject. He insisted that it was intolerable that birching of that kind on the King's ships should be continued; and he appealed to the working men representatives in the House to help him in this matter, because they were returned by the fathers of the children who were the subjects of this degrading punishment. He could not help thinking that the new First Lord of the Admiralty could not better signalise his entrance into office than by abolishing the system of flogging in the Navy, as it had been abolished in the Army. Whenever Nelson had a particularly refractory sailor he sent him to Admiral Collingwood, who never flogged, and the sailors delighted in him.

The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty stated in answer to a Question in March last that birching was a better form of punishment for boys in the Navy than in the Army. He traversed that statement in the most distinct way. England was the only nation in the world that retained corporal punishment in the Navy. Boys of sixteen years of age were accepted in the French training ships and they were liable to corporal punishment in no shape or form. Even in the Russian Navy flogging had been abolished, The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty had made a still more astonishing statement when he said that flogging in the Army had been abolished because there were no boys there. Had the hon. Gentleman ever seen a fife and drum band? The hon. Gentleman, who himself had been an officer in the Army, knew that there was no such thing as flogging in the Army, and he must recollect that in 1903 a colonel of the Guards had been placed on half pay for countenancing, or at least winking at, a case of "ragging" amongst the junior officers.


said that the Vote under discussion referred to the Navy and not to the Army.


said he had only referred to that case by way of illustration, and to show that the man who permitted "ragging" in the Army had been dismissed. If flogging in the Army had been abolished why, then, permit it in the Navy? He maintained that boys who had been subject to being bullied or flogged either had their spirit broken, or it trained them to exercise tyranny afterwards over those who might become subject to them. They had heard that day, in reply to a Question, what had occurred on board H.M.S. "Kent." There were twenty-five midshipmen on board that ship, and one of their number who had been condemned by a mock Court-martial to be flogged with the scabbard of a dirk, which was a well-known punishment in the gun room, declined to submit, and said that he would make it serious work if he was subjected to it. The middy was alone and surrounded by the gang of gentlemen who were bullying him, and he used his revolver on them and wounded one or two of his comrades. Why had there not been an investigation in that case? Were the Admiralty afraid, if the whole of the facts and circumstances of that revolt were brought to light, they would show that the boy's conduct in fighting against such a system was praiseworthy? What had become of that boy? They had been told that his parents had removed him. Had they removed him at the suggestion of the Admiralty or not? Did the commanders know that this system of cruelty in the gun room was practised? There was a speech of the Civil Lord which always went to his heart, in which the hon. Gentleman said that every boy carried in his kit an admiral's baton; but he knew it was perfectly certain that he also carried in his kit the possibility of a flogging with the cat-o'-nine-tails. The Navy, on which so much money was expended, was fenced around with class influence; and from the higher ranks the sons of the poor, no matter how able they might be, were absolutely excluded.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries", Wages, and Allowances) be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Swift MacNeill.)

MR. AINSWORTH (Argyllshire)

said he wished to refer to the practice of mooring obsolete warships in the waters of the Clyde.


said he would prefer to reply on the subject under discussion. It had been discussed at great length on a previous occasion, and there was no need for him to repeat the arguments he then used. The hon. Member had declaimed with ardour upon the possibility of flogging being inflicted upon men, but it was impossible that it could ever be revived.


Why not repeal the Act?


said the hon. Member was aware that it would lead to a waste of Parliamentary time. As to the punishment of boys by birching—though corporal punishment was a thing to be avoided—there could be no doubt, it was an opinion general in the Navy, that properly and judiciously inflicted, without undue severity, it was a great deal better than detention for growing boys. But it must be properly inflicted and must not be unduly frequent or be inflicted for offences which did not merit it. During the Easter recess he was on board the Irish training ship "Emerald" and asked an officer who had been on board the ship for a year how many of those birchings had been recently inflicted and he said there had not been one since he had been in the ship. He did not think the hon. Gentleman served his case by the extreme heat of his language and by his exaggeration. The hon. Member referred to cruelty and bullying. This was inconsistent with the fact that in no service in the world could there be found either in commission or in the ranks men more self-respecting and more respected than the officers and the men of the Royal Navy. His statement that there were no boys in the French Navy was correct, but with our system, where the personnel entered as boys, this particular form of punishment fell in. With regard to what went on in the gun room, there should be no sort of informal Court-martial or any severe unauthorised punishment upon midshipmen; and the Admiralty had taken the steps of which he had informed the House in order that any such practice should cease.

There was no justification for complaint as to entrance to the Navy. Every application for nomination received at the Admiralty was accepted in the first instance unless there was exceptional reason to the contrary. All the boys who had received these preliminary nominations were interviewed by an interview committee presided over by a naval officer of high rank. This committee was kept in absolute ignorance of any recommendations which might be made in favour of any boy. All they had before them was the statements of the parent and the schoolmaster or other person who had been entrusted with the boy's education. They interviewed the boys and classified them according to the opinion they formed of their brightness and fitness, and on that classification nominations were given. He thought it would be admitted that any possible objections there might be to the present system were enormously less than the obvious and serious objections there were to subjecting boys of twelve or thirteen years of age to the ordeal of a competitive examination. Under the present system there was no competitive examination whatever. There was only a qualifying and a medical examination, and every boy who passed them was qualified. There must always be a certain number of boys who failed to qualify, and therefore a few more nominations were given; but they were nominations on the selection and classification of a Committee who were absolutely guarded against any social influence whatever.


said he desired to call attention to the danger attending the presence of obsolete warships in the Clyde. The present arrangement was objected to by all the yachting clubs in Glasgow.

MR. JOHN WILSON (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

said that these ships were absolutely a danger to navigation, and he would urge the Secretary to the Admiralty to take the matter into consideration.


said he feared that the Royal dockyards were being turned into mere repairing shops, and would urge the importance of keeping up the shipbuilding capacities of the dockyards. There was a possibility that under the guise of economy the dockyards were being starved. He wished to know whether the extreme number of discharges from the dockyards was attributable to a new policy. It was a very grave matter for his constituency.


asked whether it was the fact that the naval manœuvres had been cancelled for the present year.


said that it had been decided to withdraw the manœuvres, which were to have been world-wide. When they were arranged the active naval war that was now being fought was not foreseen.

And, it being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.

Forward to