HL Deb 11 February 1839 vol 45 cc215-7
The Earl of Minto

wished to ask the noble Earl who had withdrawn his notice respecting the state of the navy, whether it was his intention again to bring it forward on an early day, or whether he was disposed to name any future day for his motion?

The Earl of Hardwicke

was not, he said, disposed to bind himself over that he would not bring it forward. He had given a notice for the discussion, and his order had been discharged; but having done that he should not then say that he would not bring on some motion on the same subject during the Session. He begged leave to give notice to the noble Lord that he meant to ask him some questions tomorrow with respect to naval education.

Lord Colchester

felt himself placed in rather an awkward position, in consequence of the withdrawal of the notice of motion by his noble Friend, which he could not help considering unfortunate. He had made certain statements in reference to what had fallen from a noble Lord opposite at the commencement of the Session, and he had hoped to have an opportunity of making good those statements. He trusted that an early opportunity of discussing this subject would be afforded. He wished most sincerely that the favourable statements recently made regarding the condition of the navy might be made good. It would give him much greater pleasure to have his own humble opinions proved erroneous, than to find them substantiated.

The Earl of Minto

said: I understand from what fell from the noble Earl (the Earl of Hardwicke), that he is not at present determined to bring on any discussion, or to make any motion on the subject of which he has given notice. I take this opportunity of stating that I perfectly agree with what fell from the noble Lord who spoke last, that it is exceedingly unfortunate, especially as regards the impression made upon the public mind, that the noble Earl has abstained from the discussion, to which I have been so long and so anxiously looking. I only wish now to say, that if the noble Earl, or any other noble Lord, should think proper to bring on this question, I shall be prepared to defend the administration of the Admiralty as at present conducted, and I hope to furnish a complete answer and refutation to the numerous misstatements which have been forced upon the public. I do not consider it necessary to express a hope that whenever this question is mooted it may be brought forward, not in the shape of a question, or in detached fragments of a case, but that the state of the navy, on which so much misapprehension has prevailed, may be made the subject of a substantive discussion, in order that I may have an opportunity of defending the Admiralty, and the noble Lords opposite an opportunity of making good their attacks.

Lord Colville

hoped that, whenever the subject should be discussed, it would not be treated as a party question. He regretted that it was not likely to be brought forward immediately. There was, he knew, a very strong feeling on the subject through the country, and it had been made the ground of extensive correspondence. The general feeling was, and he concurred in it, that the navy, that hitherto strong arm of the country's power, had of late years been much neglected. If the discussion of the question should tend only to shift the blame of this neglect from the shoulders of one party to those of another, it would do no good. What he wished was, to have the whole question calmly and fairly considered, and then we should arrive at the truth as to the real condition of that force. We should remember what we owed to our navy, what was the present state of our commerce, and what would it have been but for the glorious achievements of our navy? He again hoped that the subject would receive that attention which its importance deserved.

Subject dropped.