HL Deb 02 March 1854 vol 131 cc194-5

rose to put a question to the noble Earl at the head of the Government respecting the Navy Lists. Their Lordships were aware that there were two lists of admirals—one called the "active" list, and the other the "reserved list." The active list contained the largest number of inactive persons that, perhaps, could be found among an equal number of gentlemen taken from any other class. The reserved list contained a good many very active officers, perfectly capable of doing their duty in the service of the country. Now, the Government having determined on making an inquiry into the state of the Army List, it occurred to him that it would not be improper to ask whether they intended to institute a similar inquiry with respect to the Navy List? If the noble Earl was prepared to answer the question in the negative, he entreated him to let the answer be inferred from his silence, because he (the Earl of Hardwicke) was anxious that the Government should not preclude themselves from reconsidering the subject. It was possible that, upon further and more matured reflection, the Government might be of opinion that the present was a most favourable opportunity for revising the Navy List, and giving to the country, in the active list, a reality as well as a name. The noble Earl concluded by asking whether the Commissioners who were to be appointed to inquire into the state of the Army List were also to inquire into the state of the Navy List?


was afraid that, notwithstanding the request of the noble Lord, he must answer his question in the negative. He must say that, although Her Majesty's Government had granted a Commission to inquire into the promotions and other details of the military service, they had not thought it necessary to adopt the same course with respect to the Navy; and for this reason, because this very subject had occupied the attention of various Commissions, Committees, and Boards of Admiralty over and over again, and very recently; and, therefore, there was not the least reason or necessity for a fresh revision of it. He could only say that, after the most full and patient inquiry into this subject, the present system had come to be considered the best practicable. The noble Earl would recollect that Her Majesty had the power to set aside the rules of seniority, and to select any officer she pleased for her service; and, with that exception, he could only repeat, that, after consideration given by all preceding Boards of Admiralty, and by Commissions for the purpose, there seemed to be no reason for instituting a fresh inquiry into the subject of the Navy Lists, as proposed by the noble Earl.

House adjourned till To-morrow.