HL Deb 27 June 1865 vol 180 cc855-7

, in moving the second reading of the Bill, said, it was founded on the Report of a Royal Commission. Having pointed out the principal clauses of the Bill, the noble Duke said, that as there was no objection to the general principle of the Bill, he should content himself with moving that it be read a second time.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Duke of Somerset.)


said, that it had been repeatedly represented that after the passing of this Bill the Hospital would remain very much as it was before. It appeared to him, however, that the Bill proposed to substitute in lieu of the present Hospital a fund which should be entirely at the disposal of the Admiralty, which was to have the complete and entire control of the revenues of the Hospital, and to have the appointment of the pensioners. The Bill, therefore, must be regarded as entirely abolishing Greenwich Hospital as it was generally understood, and to hand over its revenues to purposes quite foreign to the purpose for which it was founded—namely, that of being a great almshouse for the reception of aged and wounded seamen. It now seemed to be the desire of the Admiralty to get rid of the pensioners altogether. The noble Duke had entirely changed his opinion on this subject since last year, when he expressed a strong opinion that the building should be retained for the purposes to which it had been so long applied, and that the revenues should be kept distinct; whereas, the Bill proposed not only to take away the building from the seamen, but also to place the revenues in the hands of the Admiralty, who would have to create a new office for its management at a great annual expense. Now, he might be asked what arrangement he was prepared to advise? He replied that the revenues could be better managed if a Commissioner were placed over them, whose accounts would be audited and submitted to Parliament. The management of the property of the value of £200,000 a year would require a certain number of clerks at the Admiralty, and constitute an imperium in imperio, while the Admiralty had quite enough to do in governing the navy. And yet the estates would not be managed as efficiently as if they were under a Commissioner with a steward in charge of them. He (the Earl of Hardwicke) would keep the Hospital for the unmarried seamen, and with regard to the married men, he would give them pensions outside. If the Hospital was not then sufficiently filled he would reserve a part for the cure of diseased and wounded men, and in time of war it would again revert to its ancient purpose. The officers at present in the Hospital he would have liberally compensated, and he would have placed the three captains on the list of retired Admirals. There were two remarkable instances of such, as both Captains Cook and Lord Rodney had been on the Greenwich Hospital list, and afterwards returned to active service. He deeply regretted the step taken by the Admiralty.


expressed his opinion that the Bill would not work so well as the Government expected.


, in reply to the observations of the noble Earl (the Earl of Hardwicke), said, that the Bill was only what had been shadowed out in a memorandum which he had laid upon the table some time ago, and which he believed had met with the general approbation of both Houses of Parliament. Pensioners who were not quite worn out felt that a residence in Greenwich Hospital was a monotonous sort of existence—a kind of monastic life—and, no doubt, very many of them would gladly avail themselves of the permission to go out and live with their friends.

Motion agreed to: Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.