HL Deb 27 May 1879 vol 246 cc1350-1

rose to call attention to the condition of the Naval Department of the Admiralty, and to ask, When it was intended to undertake the re-organization of that office? Their Lordships would doubtless understand that by the Naval Department of the Admiralty was meant the Secretary's Office. In that Department all the important business of the Admiralty was transacted. The policy of the Admiralty, the whole administration of the Navy, all the communications with the Fleet, were maintained through this Office. It was, therefore, of the first importance that it should be maintained in a state of the highest efficiency. Many years since it was recognized that considerable changes were required as well in the personnel, as in the constitution of the Office, and the distribution of the various duties carried on in it. The first step towards those changes was taken in 1866, when entries were stopped in the Department; but since then nothing further had been done in the direction of the re-organization of the Office, and, consequently, the junior clerks had served more than 13 years. Since the year to which he had referred every other Department of the Admiralty had undergone considerable changes, and the present Government last Session made provision for dealing with the Secretary's Office under the Admiralty Offices Re-organization Act. The re-organization of the Office had not been carried out, and some immediate action must be taken, the Act in question having only one year to run. The number of clerks in the Office had been reduced from 50 to about 30, some of whom had served over 40 years, and a very small further reduction would be necessary. He had read a statement made in "another place" that the Board of Admiralty were in correspondence with the Treasury on the subject; but all who had experience of correspondence in the Treasury would know that it might last for weeks, or for years, or even for a life-time; and he was anxious to know whether anything in the shape of reorganization was likely soon to take place? He ventured to hope that there would be no delay in this instance, and that he would receive a favourable answer to his Question. He should be content to learn that it was in contemplation to appoint a Committee of Inquiry.


said, that he was happy to be able to give his noble Friend (the Earl of Camperdown) the assurance that the correspondence to which he referred would not occupy the lengthened space which he seemed to apprehend. The First Lord of the Admiralty and the Board were perfectly alive to the necessity of re-organizing the Naval Department—the only Department which had not been re-organized of recent years; and the result of their correspondence with the Treasury was that the appointment of a Committee to inquire into that subject had been agreed upon, and it would, without delay, proceed upon the work in question.

House adjourned at a quarter past Seven o'clock, to Thursday next, Eleven o'clock.