HL Deb 07 May 1886 vol 305 cc490-2

in rising to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether he is prepared to supply gun-boats for the use of the different brigades of the Royal Naval Volunteer Corps, and to move for any further correspondence respecting the above corps from naval officers or other officials who have been instructed to inquire into, or to report upon, the subject? said, that the Naval Volunteer movement had been spreading largely of late, and that it had already gained great popularity. A brigade had recently been formed on the Clyde, and it was intended to raise similar corps at Yarmouth and on the Tyne. He hoped the Admiralty would do their utmost to render this Service as popular and as efficient as the Rifle Volunteers had long been. At present, a member of the corps was not adjudged efficient unless he could prove his competency at gun, rifle, pistol, and cutlass drills. Now, it was almost impossible for a sailor to become efficient at gun drill on shore. To handle a gun well on board ship a man must first acquire his sea legs, and he could only do that at sea. He hoped, therefore, that a gun-boat would be placed at the disposal of each corps for a period of four or five months annually. There existed 10 or 12 which were more or less obsolete, but which would serve admirably the purpose which he had in mind. A frequent complaint made by Naval Volunteers was that an efficient man was removed from the list of efficients if he could not be present at the official inspection. That was a very hard rule, and he held that men certified as unavoidably absent by their Commanding Officer should be allowed to remain among the efficients. Volunteers who had obtained commissions after passing the severe examination now prescribed by the Admiralty Regulations were entitled to aspire to higher ranks than were at present accessible to them. The last suggestion he had to make was that officers should be permitted to wear gold instead of silver lace. The latter tarnished very quickly at sea, but gold was not affected by salt water.

Moved, "That there he laid before this House any further correspondence respecting the Royal Naval Volunteer Corps from naval officers or other officials who have been instructed to inquire into or to report upon the subject."—(The Viscount Sidmouth.)


could assure the noble Viscount that he naturally took a great interest in the Royal Naval Volunteer Force, and that he was anxious to do everything in his power to give it reasonable and legitimate encouragement. The noble Viscount might have a little confidence in him upon this point, because he was connected with the Military Volunteer Force when it was first started. He regretted that he could not produce the Papers which the noble Viscount wished to have. The Report of Sir Robert Molyneux had been received at the Admiralty, where it was still the subject of discussion. That being the case, it would not be in accordance with the usual practice or convenient to lay it on the Table of the House. Besides, it was more or less confidential. Another Report connected with this subject which the noble Viscount desired to have was a Report which was made to the War Office, and he could not undertake to produce it without the concurrence of the Secretary of State for War. With reference to the noble Viscount's suggestions, he might say that of late years it had been the practice of the Admiralty to place a gunboat at the disposal of the Corps of Volunteers, and it was the intention of the present Board to continue the practice. The Avon had been set apart for the London District, and the Tay had been commissioned as a tender to the Hotspur, with the object of making her available for corps at Bristol and Liverpool. As to the corps on the Clyde, it had been formed only a short time, and was not yet in a condition to embark on a gunboat for sea practice. Hereafter, the same course would be pursued in the case of that corps as in the case of the others. He was obliged to the noble Viscount for his suggestions, and would carefully consider them. Most of them related to points which were referred to in the Reports of Admiral Hamilton and Sir Robert Molyneux, and which would be taken into consideration by the Admiralty.


asked the noble Marquess to take into consideration the position and pay of the instructors of these corps, with a view to their improvement.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.