§ Sir C. Napier
rose to call the attention of the House to the constitution of the Board of Admiralty. It would be in the recollection of hon. Gentlemen who had paid attention to naval subjects, that for many years previous to the time when the office of First Lord of the Admiralty was filled by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Graham), the affairs of the Navy had been managed by the Boards, namely, the Victualling Board, the Navy Board, and the Board of Admiralty; and under those Boards it was well known by every naval man, that the Navy had been most improperly managed. First, in regard to the construction of ships, 44-gun ships were built with their lower deck ports not three feet out of the water, and consequently, in the majority of cases, the lower guns were useless; the 52-gun ships were but little better; and then there were the 26-gun frigates, which could neither tight nor run, were not strong enough to fight, and had no keels to enable them to run away—this was the reason that so many of those vessels had been captured by the Americans. In fact, corvettes, frigates, 304 and almost every class of ships had, under the management of the Navy Board been constructed in the most defective manner, even in comparison with the ships of other nations. Then there was the construction of the dockyard at Sheerness—a hobby of Lord Melville's—which had cost the country four or five millions, and was perfectly unfitted for the purposes for which it had been constructed. It was built on a lee shore, in a swamp, and he did not know how many millions of piles had been driven into the sea to form a foundation. It had been undertaken at a time when steam was making great progress, and when every man might have seen that vessels might ere long be towed further up. It was at all times exposed to the enemy, and he very much doubted whether it could ever be effectually defended. The right hon. Baronet was justified, then, in altering the constitution of the Navy Boards. The right hon. Baronet, assisted by Sir T. Hardy, than whom a more gallant and distinguished officer had never existed, and by Admiral Dundas, had consolidated the several Boards, and had placed the whole direction in the hands of the Board of Admiralty, and so far he (Sir C. Napier) fully concurred in what they had done. For two years before the right hon. Baronet had entered the Admiralty, he (Sir C. Napier) had himself recommended the adoption of a much stronger measure than was afterwards introduced. He now came to the consideration whether the system which had been substituted for the old one was good, or whether there were not still defects which might be remedied. The right hon. Baronet, in bringing forward his scheme, stated the objections of many distinguished officers, including Admiral Rodney and Earl St. Vincent, to the old constitution of the Navy Board. The new plan divided the government of the Navy into five branches—there was the Surveyor of the Navy, the Accountant General, the Storekeeper-General, the Victualling Department, and the Medical Department; and an additional Lord of the Admiralty was appointed to take up these duties. Now every naval officer who knew what these duties were, knew that they were very great and laborious. Too much duty was put upon the Board of Admiralty. The hon. and gallant Member here quoted the opinions of several Lords of the Admiralty, stating objections to the new con- 305 stitution of the Admiralty. The officers of the Navy Board were each put under several Lords of the Admiralty. They came in with every change of Ministry, and were necessarily very ignorant of the duties of their departments. But the plan was not rigidly adhered to, as the Lords of the Admiralty mingled in each other's duties. They went down from time to time to Somerset House to the office of the Navy Board, where they merely asked the officials there how things went on, took their hats, and went off again, leaving all the real duty to the officers of the Board, who were not responsible. He must state, however, that the Victualling and the Medical Departments were well conducted, because one Lord of the Admiralty was at the head of each. But the officials in the dockyards had a great number of masters. The Accountant General, the Surveyor General, and the Storekeeper General all corresponded with the superintendent of the dockyards. He now came to the formation of the Board of Admiralty. He had moved for some returns in 1842, with a view of showing how many persons had been taken into the service of the Admiralty from the Navy. With respect to the principal departments he found, that there were in the Surveyor General's Office two persons who had never been at sea, in the Accountant General's four persons similarly situated, in the Storekeeper General's two persons in the Victualling Department, and in the hospital six, making altogether fifteen persons in these important offices who had never seen any service. The same principle was carried out in other departments. He had, in 1842, moved for a return of the number of men who had seen actual service at sea, and who were now employed at the Admiralty, from the post of watchman upwards, and he found there were only two in the Surveyor General's Office, four in the office of the Accountant General, two in the Storekeeper's Department, one in the Victualling Department, and six in the Hospital Department—only fifteen in all, who had ever been at sea, shared any portion of the expenses of an establishment which cost the country 110,000l. per annum. He found also by a return made in 1843, that there were only 165 men in the civil service, including the dockyards, who had ever been at sea; whereas it would have been highly cre- 306 ditable to them to have given employment to old sailors, serjeants of marines &c. One great advantage had accrued to the public from his motions upon this subject, and which of itself was sufficient to repay him for his exertions; it was a great point gained, that on every ship returning to port, the captain was obliged to make a return of his best officers to the Port Admiral, thus ensuring to meritorious services their fair consideration and ultimate reward. He had moved last Session for a return of the number of civil situations under the Admiralty and Navy Boards, together with the situations from whence the occupants were taken, and by whom the parties were recommended. His object, was to get at the number of gentlemen's servants and butlers who were put into those situations, but the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. S. Herbert) would not give him this information—he would only give the numbers, but would not state by whom recommended, nor what the previous position in life. He had himself a servant, and a friend of his had another servant, and both of them applied to him to get them into the dockyard. He was refused at once, but they nevertheless got in, though how he could not tell. He would not name them for fear they should be turned out, but such was the way in which these situations were bestowed. He would now call attention to the manner in which promotions in the Navy had been conducted during the last twelve or thirteen years. They were told, after the present First Lord of the Admiralty had been some time in office, that he had introduced a spirit into the Navy which had not previously existed—that the ships were in the highest state of order and efficiency, and that the officers knew that they had but to excel in discipline and their promotion was safe. It was then alleged that Government went on too fast in promotion; and when Lord Melbourne came into office there was a Treasury Minute that the promotions should be one in three. Now, what had been the fact? In 1830 there had been thirty-one commanders made captains, thirty-one lieutenants made commanders, sixty-seven midshipmen made lieutenants, sixteen second masters made masters, twenty-two surgeons, and fifteen pursers. The obituary of that year was twenty-two captains, twenty-one commanders, and seventy-eight lieutenants. At the end of 307 thirteen years, from 1830 to 1843, there had been 332 commanders made captains, 535 lieutenants made commanders, 945 midshipmen made lieutenants; and the obituary was 284 captains, 359 commanders, and 928 lieutenants. After this table he hoped they should never hear a word more about the Treasury Minute. Unless they came to a regular system of giving a Retired List to the Navy it was impossible to look out for the smallest amount of economy in promotion. He asked for this now on stronger grounds than he before had done, because, when he had before asked, it was stated that the Commission, which a most distinguished officer, Sir Thomas Hardy, was not able to sign, had decided that there was no necessity for a retired list. He thought the right hon. Baronet would incur great responsibility if he did not at once entertain the question, and bring the British Navy into a state of efficiency, by giving a moderate sum to induce these men to retire from the list—presenting a list of lieutenants who were deficient, and rating them as marines were rated when they were allowed to retire on half-pay. Having obtained that point, he should say that no officer should be promoted till a vacancy took place. Let the Minister take one-third of the promotions to himself, give one-third to seniority, and one-third to the Admiralty. He again begged to impress on the right hon. Baronet the absolute necessity there was (in order that the Navy might be in efficient state) to show how many effective officers we had, and to let the rest retire. It appeared by the evidence given before the Committee on Shipwrecks, that a number of officers and men exerted themselves in saving the lives of their fellow-subjects. By the evidence of Captain Sparshot, who had been sixteen years in the department, in reply to questions by Captain Pechell, it appeared that in no one instance had any of these officers been promoted, notwithstanding strong recommendations to that effect. The gallant Officer read the evidence of Captain Sparshot on this point. He gave the right hon. Baronet opposite full credit for the changes he had effected, which, considering the extraordinary difficulties he had had to encounter, he could not have accomplished unless he had been backed by great majorities, yet still he thought that further changes were required. As to the masters, every officer 308 who sat in the House, and every man who had been at sea, must know the important services which a master had to perform. They must know that a captain, without a good master, would not be able to conduct his ship. When the right hon. Baronet came into office, a new regulation was made, by which the charge of the stores was taken out of the hands of ignorant warrant officers,—very good men to make boatswains, but, generally speaking, illiterate men—men who could hardly read or write, in consequence of the little encouragement which was given to nautical education,—and the right hon. Baronet appointed the masters to take charge of the stores, and gave them a certain allowance. It worked remarkably well; the only objection was, that, when the ship was indented the indenting was followed up by getting drunk. The charge of the stores was afterwards given back to the warrant officers. The captain was responsible for these stores, in conjunction with the master, and the master, at the present moment, got no remuneration. There was a late regulation at the Admiralty which gave the masters a most extraordinary sort of remuneration, although some of the regulations were very good. The pay of a master of a three-deck ship, not having charge of the stores (and it was impossible he could have, because, when a warrant officer died, a man was promoted in his place) was 212l. This was the pay of the master of a first-rate, the highest appointment he possibly could have, unless he got into a dockyard or became master of a fleet; and yet would any man believe that the master of a small brig or vessel, where perhaps the whole amount of stores was not worth 100l., who might have been made a master the other day, and who did not know his business as well as the master of a first-rate, received 219l. 12s. 4d.? So that the master of a three-decker, having charge of an immense ship, in all times and in all weathers, who, if he did his duty, was up all night—who must be on deck whenever the ship was near land—who had the charge of the masts, the yards, the sails, the rigging, and everything, that could be put on the masts—received 7l. or 8l. less than the master of a small craft having charge of the stores. Again, the master—who was the best seaman in the ship—who was a trustworthy and attentive man, without 309 whom no captain could go to sea (for he would not stop on board a ship one day if he had not a master in whom he could put confidence)—ranked under the junior lieutenant of the ship. Nay more; if a man was made acting lieutenant, to-morrow, the master ranked below him. Now, he would do away with the very name of master; he should be the same as a lieutenant; he should go through his examination the same as at present, but he should be just as eligible to be made a commander to-morrow if he distinguished himself, as the lieutenant, who might be made a commander at the end of two years. The present arrangement was an injustice to the masters, and he hoped the Admiralty would redress it. He hoped they would do justice to the masters, for it would be acceptable to every captain in the Navy and give no dissatisfaction to young officers, many of whom were too willing to learn from them what they ought to do. He came now to his own proposal. He had before said, that he approved of what the right hon. Baronet had done, and he only wished to make it more complete, and with very little trouble he thought it might be more perfect. He would first mention his own opinion in 1828, before the right hon. Baronet came into office. It was expressed in a letter addressed to a Member of Parliament, who afterwards became Lord of the Admiralty in 1830. He had long disapproved of the state of the Navy Board. He said that it was generally supposed that the office of Lord High Admiral was too high a situation for an individual; recourse must then be had to the Board. If there was a civilian at the head of the Board he should be assisted with the advice of Rear Admirals, which situation should be abolished as a sinecure, &c. The right hon. Baronet's arrangement was pretty nearly the same as this. The right hon. Baronet had referred to the constitution of the Ordnance Department: he (Sir C. Napier) wanted to see the Navy conducted pretty nearly in the same manner; he would appoint one of the Lords of the Admiralty superintendent of the dockyards; he would appoint another Lord of the Admiralty Comptroller of the Victualling Department, which was under one Superintendent; and then the Accountant General or the Treasurer of the navy, or whatever man you thought proper, should be ap- 310 pointed to attend to the accounts—then we should have the First Lord of the Admiralty or Vice Admiral of Great Britain to carry on the details of the Navy. Very few men were able to get through the work of the Admiralty as it was carried on at the present moment. As to the construction of ships, it was well known that there had always been great errors and great faults. Ever since he had been in the Navy, whenever they had a Surveyor of the Navy he had his own notions his own ideas and his own crotchets. Whether the Admiralty had the power of controlling him or not, he was not prepared to say, but he should say, from the specimens of ships which had been produced at various times, that there was great ignorance and great stupidity in the whole plan of ship-building. When the late Navy Board was in office it was impossible to persuade them that things were wrong; they resisted all attempts at improvement. Any man of ability or talent was obliged to give security to a large amount before he could get permission to build a ship, as in the case of Captain Symonds. He believed that Captain Symonds deserved great credit for what he had done in his office of Surveyor of the Navy, but still he was not perfect, be had his crotchets as well as other Surveyors, and unless he was strongly controlled he would destroy every ship in the navy, in order to bring them all under his own system. Although Captain Symonds had built some of the finest ships in the Navy, still he had himself given proof that he was not perfect, and it was to be tried yet whether his ships would be able to stand the exigencies of a long war, wherein they might be obliged to blockade an enemy's port for months in all sorts of weather; whether they would stand that or not, time and experience would alone tell. He had had the command of a squadron of six ships of the line in a very heavy gale off Alexandria, and he had fully expected that under such circumstances he should have seen the "Vanguard" the weather most ship of all; and he was astonished to find that two other ships had the advantage of her. He trusted the Admiralty would not allow Captain Symonds to run away with the whole of the building of the ships; he knew they were following a different plan; that they had given orders for ships at the various dockyards, and had employed various builders upon them. He 311 highly approved of the plan, as it would induce competition, and in ship-building it always did good. Of course, he would say, let the Surveyor build some, and let his ships come into competition with the other masters. Now, in reference to the magazines of ships, within a few years numerous alterations had taken place, and at an enormous cost to the country. He had heard of that, and moved for a Return of the number of ships which had been altered, and he found that within a very short period there were eleven ships whose magazines had undergone alteration. The cost of the whole he had not been able to arrive at, but he knew that the cost of the alterations of the Powerful of which he had the command, was no less than 7,463l. At one time, one Surveyor of the Navy got the crotchet in his head that it was necessary to arm the sterns of all our ships, and they were accordingly all turned into round sterns, of course at a great expense. He had moved for Returns of the cost, but it was declined; however, that crotchet did not last long, and the round sterns were re-manufactured into another kind of round sterns; of course at another great expense. There was the Trafalgar, which was launched at Woolwich, before Her Majesty, and amidst immense pomp. It was proudly boasted that she was the most perfect ship in the British navy. Well, she was taken down to Chatham, and there all the pretty work of Mr, Laing was knocked to pieces, and the stern of some one else put in. He thought the Surveyor ought not to be attached to the Navy Board at all—he should be kept at the elbow of the Admiralty and all calculations relating to ship-building laid before him, upon which he should be called upon to give an opinion. During the late American war, it was found that our 46-gun frigates were totally unable to cope with the heavy frigates of America. Well, every one would have thought that that class of ships would have been abolished. But no, the Admiralty set to work and built seventy or eighty of them, and there they were now almost useless. One of them, the Penelope, had been cut asunder lengthened, and made into a steamer. When her engines were put in, and she was loaded with 500 tons of coals, her lower ports were no more than 3 feet 11½ inches from the water, while her 312 paddles were 8 feet in the water, and they ought to be no more than 3 feet. Her cargo of coals was reduced to 430 tons, when she started out of the harbour on her trial trip; still her main deck ports were no more than 4 feet 11½ inches out of the water, and her paddle wheels 7 feet in it in place of 3. Why she was fit for nothing but to drown her people. Yet they were building another at Chatham. Now she would not be one bit better than the Penelope. Not one of our war steamers could carry ten days' fuel, by which, in his opinion, they were wholly useless. Even the French did not make such mistakes as we did in our steamers. Had we sent down orders to Glasgow or Liverpool, we might have obtained perfect war steamers, for only those could build them who were acquainted with them. The Surveyor had not produced one steamer which was not a disgrace to the Admiralty. Even the Queen's yacht was a bungled job; such were the mistakes made in her build, that, even with very heavy engines, they were compelled to ballast her with 100 tons of lead. The Albion, when built was supposed to be a chef d'œuvre; it was boasted she was the first ship of the whole Navy—superior to the Rodney, the Nile, and every other. Why the Rodney when she sailed, was full of stores—she had fourteen months' provisions on board—she was full as the ship could hold, yet she drew less water; her ports were further from the water than the Albion's, with less than four months provisions on board. He hoped that the Admiralty would consider these matters and mend them.
§ Mr. S. Herbert
said, there were some charges which the hon. and gallant Officer had made, which would, probably, come under consideration when the House got into Committee on the Navy Estimates, but there were other points in the speech of the hon. and gallant Officer on which he (Mr. S. Herbert) wished to offer a few (and they would be very brief) observations to the House. The hon. and gallant Officer complained of the constitution of the Board of Admiralty, and had criticised its conduct by the character of the ships which had been constructed under the authority of the Admiralty. He said the class of ships which had been built were of an extremely insufficient construction, but in making that charge as against the present Board, he forgot that in support of his charge, he had instanced 313 several ships which had been built under previous Boards of Admiralty.
§ Sir C. Napier
I produced two instances—one before, and the other since, the constitution of the Board of Admiralty had been newly constructed. I admit, that the errors have been less since.
§ Mr. S. Herbert
was sorry to have misunderstood the hon. and gallant Officer, and must take it that he had done so, on the hon. and gallant Officer's statement. The first charge then made against the present Board by the hon. and gallant Officer, had been as to die exercise of its patronage. The hon. and gallant Member stated, that having moved for a Return, he found that though there were between 600 and 700 persons employed in the various civil departments of the Admiralty, not a single naval person was to be found amongst them; but the hon. and gallant Officer had himself shown, that to 612 civilians already employed in the dockyards, 50 naval persons had been added since the Return was laid upon the Table. He was not opposed to the proposition for the employment of naval men in the civil service of the Admiralty. In some respects he had himself carried out that principle to a certain extent, viz., in the employment of pursers as clerks in the civil departments; but he knew that sometimes serious inconvenience arose from it. If an old purser was taken into the civil department as clerk, he no sooner learnt his duty than he was unfit for service; and, on the other hand, if a young, active, intelligent purser was so employed, he would not take it for a continuance, as he naturally was looking for another ship, and when he had learnt the business of a clerk he went away; so that constant interruptions took place, and after the trouble of teaching the man his duty, no advantage to the public service was gained from him. The hon. and gallant Officer had next pointed out as an excellent regulation to be adopted in the dock-yards, would be, that when ships were paid off it should be in the power of the Commander to recommend the most deserving of his crew for employment in the dockyard, on the condition of their going to sea again whenever called upon. This regulation had been already carried into effect, and by this means an efficient corps of labourers was maintained in the dockyards, and a reserve of able-bodied seamen kept ready to be put on board ship 314 upon any emergency. With regard to special promotions, he supposed the hon. and gallant Officer would not object to the instances in which special promotions had taken place even for particular services in Syria, for services in the Chinese war, and also for services in that most pestilential quarter of the world, the Coast of Africa. These promotions were all for special services, and were free from the possibility of any charge of favouritism. As to the promotions from the Coastguard service, he (Mr. S. Herbert) did riot know an instance in which the Admiralty had deviated from the recommendations of the Controller of the Coast-guard, the officer in whom (as we understood) the selection was vested. As to the masters, the present Board had not been remiss; in the first place, they had been made commissioned officers, and some had been promoted lieutenants, and one Commander of Her Majesty's Yacht. With regard to the building of ships, it had been said the Admiralty ought to take care not to give a monopoly to any surveyor of the navy. He had every respect for the genius and ability of Sir W. Symonds; but he did not consider even that able individual to be infallible, and, therefore, other builders had been allowed to compete with Sir W. Symonds, and the Board had now no less than nineteen experimental vessels in the course of construction by different individuals. As to the expense of the alteration of the magazines, to which reference had been made, it had been found necessary; for even the plan of the hon. and gallant Officer himself had been adopted in one instance, and pronounced by two most competent officers, to be exceedingly dangerous. As time advanced, science advanced; improvements followed; and hence alterations had been found to be absolutely necessary. The hon. and gallant Officer had alluded to the Penelope. He would read the report of the Commander with reference to her draught of water. That gallant Officer stated:—The draught of water on our arrival was 18ft. 5in. forward, and 20ft. aft. The height of the ports was 6ft. 3in. forward, 5ft. 7in. in midships, and 6ft. 3in. aft.With respect to the qualities of the Albion, he would just read a letter which came to his hands from Cove a few days ago. It was addressed to Sir W. Symonds; and was in these terms:— 315It affords me great pleasure to comply with your request, and particularly so, as I am most conscientiously able to refute the vile and diabolical assertions respecting our noble ship. In the first place, I will give you her flotation when provisioned for five months, of all species, and she will now take another month's provisions comfortably under hatches, and more of bread. She stows 410 tons of water, and has 12 months' stores, with 10 months' fuel. Her draught then was—forward, 23ft. 6in.; aft, 24ft. 7in.; height of midship port, 6ft. 6in.—this should he called 6ft. 8in., as the port sills amidships were cut down to allow the depression of the 84-pounder guns which the Admiralty thought of putting into her; she is now armed with 12 68-pounders, the remainder long 32's, 56cwt., except on the quarter-deck and forecastle, 24 No. 32-pounders, 8ft. 6in., 42 cwt. guns, and two 68-pounders on the quarter-deck, making in all 90 guns actually mounted. This line of flotation, I should observe, agrees to half-an-inch of her talented constructor's calculation. Now for her qualities, so far as we have been able to judge, at sea; she works and steers like a boat, that is quicker and better than any ship I ever sailed in. On Sunday last, we had a good trial by the wind, with as much wind as her masts would bear, under double-reefed topsails, courses, &c.; her inclination never exceeded 4½ degrees; she was then going 10 knots, and working within 10½ points of the compass; at this time there was a short sea, and on one tack a-head she was far from being uneasy; her motion is quick but very easy, and on the whole I do think her the most splendid ship ever built, and her constructor must be proud of her; for my part, I am perfectly unprejudiced.This was signed "William Bowles." He had also a letter from Mr. Lofthouse, the Master of the Albion, which stated:—I am just returned from the Albion, and I cannot delay expressing my admiration of her in the strongest terms. She is quite perfect, and beyond all doubt, the finest two-decker in the world, Of course, you have already heard all I could tell you about her sailing, working, steering, &c.; but all the officers seem most sincere and hearty in their praises of her, and so end all the cabals against you and her. I am also delighted with the Iris. * * * * If I had my way I should commission the Vanguard immediately, and try her with the Albion, as the fastest two-decker in the navy.He would say a word with respect to another subject touched on by the gallant Officer—the proposed alteration of the Board of Admiralty. If officers were placed at the head of the different departments, he did not see what improvement that would be on the present system. 316 The fact was, that there were now officers placed at the head of, and responsible for, the different offices of Somerset House. The hon. and gallant Officer said, that when a change of Administration took place, the new Members who came in were ignorant of the duties of their office, and depended for information on the principal persons employed under them. This, however, was an objection that applied to every change of office, it was one of the necessary evils of our system of Government. He could not see what additional responsibility would be obtained by the proposed change; in point of fact there was now a complete responsibility. The hon. Gentleman was wrong in thinking, that the Board of Admiralty stayed almost exclusively in Whitehall; the gallant Officer near him was constantly at Somerset House, and so were the secretaries, in the discharge of their official duties, acting on their responsibility. Before a great change in the construction of an Official Board took place, there ought to be proof that the existing system had failed. He could say for himself, that before he became a Member of the Admiralty Board he had had his doubts as to the working of the system, but the experience he had had enabled him to say that it worked very well. The hon. anti gallant Officer said there was too much work for the Board to do; he did not think there was; there was a fair day's work for each person, but not more. If war were to break out, and continue for any length of time, it might be necessary to increase the official force. He was one of those who thought that the measures taken by the right hon. Member for Cumberland during his tenure of office were much required, though, like all new measures, they might work with difficulty at first. They had now stood the test of ten years, and three Administrations, and having heard no complaint of their inefficiency, or seen any of those contrarieties or embarrassments which beset the former system, he thought there was no case made out to induce him to consent to a change in the composition of the Board, which, after all, would be little else than nominal.
§ Captain Pechell
was not actuated by any party feeling; but he was of opinion, with his gallant Friend below him, that the constitution of the Board of Admiralty did not work well. The gallant Officer 317 had shown that there was no responsibility whatever at that Board, and it was well known that no junior Officer could venture to state and maintain his opinion. Sir Joseph Yorke once said in that. House, when at the Board of Admiralty, that if he presumed to differ from the Secretary or the First Lord, the sooner he turned his stern to the Admiralty the better. Hon. Members would recollect the case of Captain Berkeley, who endeavoured to induce the Admiralty to increase the ships' complements to an efficient number. That gallant Officer thought he had gained over a majority of the Board to his opinion; but after a short absence he found that this was all reversed, and that what had been brought forward in the Board-room could be upset in private. The Secretary for the Admiralty had not at all succeeded in refuting the statements of the gallant Officer opposite. He did not give Government any credit for the manner in which they dealt with the steam navy and steam machinery. When they saw the formidable steam ships which France was now building, he thought great blame was to be imputed to them for their backwardness in augmenting this part of our force. He wished to know why the great improvement of the Archimedean screw, which had been completely successful in the French and American vessels in which it was tried, had not been adopted. He did not find fault with the experiment that had been made in the case of the Penelope, but thought the service for which she was best adapted was the transport of troops. He did not approve of the Navy being employed in the collection of Poor-rates in Ireland. He felt the disgrace of Naval Officers being employed in such a service, and of bringing a man-of-war with her forty-eight pounders to bear on the next farm-house, where a paltry sum for Poor-rates might be due. To the hon. and gallant Officer opposite was due the honour and glory of employing the Navy of the country in such a service. He must complain that such a scanty share of promotion or reward fell to the lot of the officers and men employed in the fatiguing and harassing service of the Coast Guard, which was confined to those who distinguished themselves in saving life in cases of shipwreck. He wished the Admiralty would send a good ship-of-war to protect the fishery on the coast of Sussex, not one of the ten-gun brigs. He would take this 318 opportunity of asking how many of these diabolical vessels, for so they might well be called, were left in Her Majesty's service? He believed there was one now employed on the coast of Africa, he supposed for the purpose of wearing it out; and he heartily commiserated the crew of it, for they would be worn out too.
regretted that some general method was not observed with regard to the estimates of expenditure laid before the House. He saw no reason why all the departments should not adopt the same form; yet from year to year the accounts were brought in from each of them in a different shape. At present the department of expenditure was also made the department of receipt. He contended that the gross revenue in every shape, and from every quarter, ought to be paid into the Exchequer, and that no payments should be made by any department, except by Treasury warrant. The principle had been recognized by the noble Lord the Member for London, and other hon. Members, and until it was carried into effect these accounts would never be satisfactory.
said, the masters of the Navy complained, first, that they only ranked as Lieutenants; secondly, that, while Paymasters and Pursers could obtain 8s. 6d. a day on half-pay, they could only obtain 7s.; and thirdly, that after an action the only promotion the Master of a fleet could obtain was that of Lieutenant, whilst he ought to be eligible to be made a Captain.
§ House in Committee.
§ Mr. S. Herbert
said, that having taken up some time of the House already, and as he wished to get as far in the estimates as he could, he should confine his statement merely to those points in which alterations had been made, and hoped that others would follow his example. Upon the first vote for the wages of Seamen and Marines, it would be seen that there was a very considerable reduction. The hon. Member for Coventry had alluded to that reduction as imprudent. He thought when they recollected the state of our relations with China, where war had been lately concluded, and the very large commerce which was necessary to be protected in the Indian seas, and the disturbed state of some of the coasts, the House would admit that the vote had been reduced as low as possible. The hon. Member ex- 319 plained at some length the various items of the Estimates and the alterations made in them, and concluded by saying, on the whole, though the diminution of the gross Estimates was not so large as the diminution of the number of men would appear to warrant, yet he thought the Committee would admit that the Estimates were drawn up so as to be conducive to the ultimate efficiency of the Navy. He begged the House to observe, that a great reduction had also been made on the preceding year. He did not think that a greater reduction could with safety be made. He begged to propose, as the first Vote, that 36,000 Seamen be employed, 10,500 Royal Marines, and 2,000 boys.
§ Mr. W. Williams
admitted that the power and greatness of the country mainly depended upon that branch of the public service comprised by these Estimates. The Estimates of 1833 were less by 1,600,000l. than those of the present year, and at another period they were 2,000,000l. less. He called upon the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Admiralty to explain the circumstances of the country which required this additional expense. He should object to that portion of this Vote which referred to the Marines employed on shore, and upon it he should take the opinion of the Committee. Those Marines formed, in fact, part of the Standing Army of this country, and he saw no reason why their number should be greater than in preceding years, as was the case. The number of Marines, serving on shore, proposed for the present year, was 6,000 men; whereas, if they took the last ten years, they would find that the number had never exceeded 4,500 men. He should propose, unless he received a satisfactory answer, that the number should be reduced by 2,500 men. He would not move that reduction until he had heard the explanations given by Her Majesty's Government; but, if they were not satisfactory, he certainly should divide the Committee on the subject. It appeared to him that by means of the Marines they were increasing the standing army.
§ Sir G. Cockburn
said, the estimated number of Marines was felt to be necessary. They were a most valuable force. They were as useful on shore in guarding dockyards and other duty of that kind as soldiers, and, in the event of a sudden war, they were at once available. It was 320 of the utmost importance that every possible facility should exist for having ships readily manned; and the Marines were always ready to put into ships, in the event of any sudden emergency. The hon. Member should know that when the smaller number of Marines were voted, to which the allusion had been made, foreign nations were not endeavouring to cope with our Navy. But now they were making great efforts in that direction, and their facilities of manning their fleets were greater than any we possessed. It was absolutely necessary that we should have a fleet to command the Channel in the event of war being declared. Two-thirds of our seamen were abroad in foreign parts; and, in the case of a war with France, all those seamen we depended on might be carried to French prisons, instead of coming here to man our ships. The only security we had for manning our ships in such an emergency was this vote of Marines.
§ Sir C. Napier
bore testimony to the efficiency and available character of the Marine force, and hoped his hon. Friend would not propose any reduction in the number of men. The Marines ought rather to be increased than diminished. The Government were the best judges what number of men they ought to keep up; and, as a naval man, he was anxious to see the number as well kept up as possible. The chief thing was, how they should be disposed of. Under the late Administration they had three guard ships, with scarcely sufficient men to keep them clean. In his opinion, those guard ships should be kept fully manned, and with the most efficient officers fit for active service, instead of old decrepit men as hitherto, who, when sent to sea, were found totally incapable of performing their duties. He hoped the gallant Admiral would explain what was the intention with reference to those guard-ships. With respect to powder magazines, he had tried various experiments in the Powerful, but they had been overruled when it came home, on the idea that they should be made bomb-proof, which, he thought, perfectly impossible. Our officers, he was afraid, had not sufficient opportunities for practice, and from what he had seen on foreign stations, he should say that our fleet might not on a sudden emergency be found so efficient in manœuvring as would be desirable.
observed, that we had 1,000 merchant steamers, 250 of which were capable of carrying 32-pounders; a force which would overcome the combined fleets of the rest of the world.
§ Sir G. Cockburn
remarked, that some experimental alterations, made by the gallant Officer, the Member for Marylebone, on board the Powerful, had been disapproved of by a Board of Inquiry, composed of Sir E. Codrington, Admiral Parker, and Sir T. Hastings. With respect to the Penelope, the report of her captain had been one of approval, and her services would be found peculiarly valuable on the coast of Africa, which she could closely blockade against slavers, the currents preventing sailing vessels from keeping their stations. He alluded to the extensive commerce enjoyed by this country all over the world, and the consequent demand for ships of war, which, without the aid of steamers, the Admiralty could not, unless by great increase of the Estimates, afford.
§ Vote agreed to, as was also a resolution "that 1,170,476l. be granted to Her Majesty to defray the wages of Seamen and Marines for the year ensuing."
§ House resumed, Committee to sit again.