HL Deb 09 March 1868 vol 190 cc1212-4

, in moving for a Return of the Number of Tons of Iron Ballast sold from the Royal Dockyards since January, 1867, and the Amount of Money received for this Iron and paid into the Treasury, said he would state shortly his reasons for desiring this Return. It might be in the recollection of their Lordships that some time ago a statement was made that the iron ballast in the dockyards, which had been used largely for paving the yards, was of very great value, and that its use for paving purposes involved a great waste of public money. That remark did not apply in particular to the Board of Admiralty with which he was connected, but to the Boards which had existed for many years. When he first heard of this statement, some years ago, the Admiralty sent some of the ballast to certain iron manufacturers to be tried, and a small quantity was sold; but afterwards those persons declined to purchase any more, stating that it was not worth their while to do so, and no other purchaser could be found. However, the accusation against the Admiralty had since been repeated again and again, and at the commencement of last Session a Member of the House of Commons stated that he was prepared to produce a person who would give a very large sum, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds, for that ballast. The right hon. Baronet who was then First Lord of the Admiralty expressed his willingness to accept the offer, and said he should be too glad to dispose of it in this way. Now, a great many charges had been made at different times against the Admiralty management, some of them as to the cost of building ships, others as to the mode of classifying the accounts in the dockyards. Now, these were questions of a very complicated and difficult nature, upon which opinions might differ; but here was a clear issue. It was stated distinctly and definitively that the ballast was worth so much money, and that a purchaser could be produced, the offer was accepted, and he wished, therefore, to know how far the statement had been verified. A year had elapsed since it had been made, and the offer had been accepted. Last Session he did not move for any information on the subject, because he thought he would give ample time for verifying the statement. But now he thought it desirable to have a Return of the number of tons of iron ballast sold and the amount of money received for it. Their Lordships and the country would then, from the accuracy or otherwise of the statement made on this subject, be able to judge of the accuracy of statements made from the same quarter in regard to other Admiralty matters. If it was found that the statement made respecting this ballast was greatly exaggerated or wholly unfounded, they might well conclude that the hon. Member in the House of Commons had been rather carried away by his imagination, and it would not be unreasonable on the part of their Lordships and the public to withhold their confidence from other statements made against the Admiralty on other subjects. Return of the Number of Tons of Iron Ballast sold from the Royal Dockyards since January 1867:—Amount of Money received for this Iron, and paid into Treasury.—(The Duke of Somerset.)


said, there was no objection to give the noble Duke the Returns for which he had asked, and they would be produced as soon as possible.

Return ordered to be laid before the House.

BANKRUPTCY ACTS REPEAL BILL [H.L.] A Bill to repeal Enactments relating to Bankruptcy and to Matters connected therewith: Also,

BANKRUPTCY BILL [H.L.] A Bill to amend the Law of Bankruptcy: And also,

JUDGMENT DEBTORS BILL [H.L.] A Bill to abolish Arrest on Final Process in Civil Actions in England, and otherwise to amend the Law relating to Judgments, Decrees, and Orders, and to Arrest—Were severally presented by The LORD CHANCELLOR; read 1a. (Nos. 30, 31, 32.)