§ Question again put.
§ SIR C. NAPIER
, before the House went into Committee on the Navy Estimates, begged to call attention to the expenditure that had taken place in that branch of the service for the building and altering of vessels; and it appeared to him, that during many years money had been most improvidently spent for the purpose to which he referred. It appeared from a return of the number of ships cut down since 1800, that thirteen two-deck vessels and ten frigates had been cut down; that there were about thirty vessels whose sterns had been altered by one Surveyor of the Navy, and about thirty more whose sterns were changed by another; and that there were thirty or forty ships whose magazines were changed, some of them three or four times, and all of them once; and if the House considered the expense that was incurred by those changes, they must see there was something wrong in the manner in which the Navy was conducted. He had stated every year, since he had a seat in that House, that it was impossible for the Naval Lord of the Admiralty to do all the business he had to do. He had said it was absolutely necessary there should be one Lord of the Admiralty who should have no other duty to perform than to superintend the shipping and dockyards. Notwithstanding these suggestions, and the enormous expense that was incurred, the same system was continued that had been going on for many years. The next estimate he held in his hand had reference to 549 the number of ships cut down and broken up that never had even been at sea. He would read the statement, which would show the enormous expense that was incurred. There was the Redoubtable, 74 gun ship, built in 1815, at a cost of 84,049l., and broken up in 1841; there was the Vindictive, 74, built in 1813, at a cost of 81,540, and cut down in 1832, without ever having been at sea. There was the Amazon, 42 gun frigate, built in 1821, and cut down in 1844, never was at sea. There was the Dædalus, 42, never at sea, cut down in 1844. There was the Brilliant cutting down at the present moment; there was the Penelope converted into a bad steam frigate—the Thames, the Minotaur, the Bacchus, the Hebe. Now the expense of cutting down all those ships, amounted to the enormous sum of 619,700l. He doubted much the propriety of cutting them down, and he did not think they had been made more efficient by the operation. He would now come to another class of ships. They had six three-deckers on the stocks, that were to mount 110 guns, built after the Queen, which in the first instance was a considerable pet. He believed, after cobbling her up, they had produced a fair ship; but in the last cruise, when ships were likely to roll, the Queen was not at sea, so that they did not know at present whether or not the Queen was really a good ship. There were ships also built after the Albion; and it would be remembered that he had cautioned the Admiralty not to build any other ships on the same plan until they had tried the first vessel. Now there were doubts as to whether the Albion was a good or bad ship, and he was sorry to say it was very difficult to decide it. But there was one incontestable fact, that in a gale of wind the Albion rolled over 45 degrees to leeward, and lurched over to windward 43. With regard to the Albion, as a fighting ship, after three or four trials they had found her a useless ship; because at sea ships are useless that do not carry their guns well out of the water, and the Albion was now gone to Malta to take in a quantity of ballast. When they were going to build steam vessels, he asked them to appoint a commission of two naval officers to inquire into the proper way of building steam-boats; but the Admiralty refused him. The first they constructed was the Gorgon, and he would not blame the Surveyor of the Navy for that vessel, because it was the first steam-boat that was constructed; and after the Admiralty 550 had given orders to construct her on a particular plan, and with particular engines and armament, they ordered them to be altered. The objection to that vessel was that she could not carry main-deck guns. He next referred to the Cyclops, Penelope, and Terrible. The engines of the last-named vessel, steam boxes and boilers, absolutely projected 6 ft. 5¼ in. above the water. The utmost danger would attend a shot striking the boiler of one of their steam vessels. If a shot went through the boiler of a steam ship, not one man below would escape: every one would be completely cooked in a moment. [Laughter.] This would be no laughing matter; and on the first case of this kind occurring, they would never be able to get either engineer or stoker to sail on board one of these vessels. There was not a single steam vessel in the service, except the Terrible, fit to go into action. There was not one of them that carried more than a few days' fuel on board; and there was not one in which the men were not exposed. He had told the Admiralty, when they began to build iron steam-ships, that they must have them lined with wood both within and without to a certain height. Until a few months ago, they had never tried the effect of a shot on an iron vessel; and they had not even, after thirty years' experience of steam vessels, ascertained whether a funnel could be knocked away by a shot until last year. He held in his hand a list of thirty-three iron steamers in the service, and these had all been ordered or built before the Admiralty thought of trying what effect a shot would have on a vessel of the kind. When they did make the trial, it appeared that the shot went clear through one side, and nearly knocked out the other side altogether. The cost of these ships, large and small, had been nearly two millions. He would ask, what was the use of them? The Admiralty, to show that they were not altogether useless, had turned the Birkenhead into a troop-ship. He was on board that vessel the other day, and on inquiry he found that she would not carry a battalion of troops, and that the utmost that could be accommodated was 450 men. He found also that the only place for the cables was the steerage, where the officers had to live. Now, if a shot was fired at this vessel, it would go through her, and the whole of the men on board would be lost. Such a vessel would be utterly unfit to convey troops in time of war, for if she was met at sea and struck 551 by a shot, she would certainly go down. In time of peace, as well as in war, the Admiralty would be bound to furnish every man on board such a vessel with an air collar. He thought the best course that could be adopted with regard to such vessels was to sell them at once, and so get rid of them altogether, for they were only fit to be made coal depôts of. The proceedings with respect to these iron steamers showed the manner in which business was conducted by the Board of Admiralty. There were also eleven screw steam vessels either built or now in course of construction, and of these, the only one that had been effectively tried was the Rattler. While he admitted that the Rattler had been tried, he must add that it did not appear that any great advantage had resulted from the screw in that instance, as it took up, with the machinery, the whole of the hold. He admitted that the Dauntless would afford a fair trial of the principle of the screw; and if it answered in that instance, the adoption of it in other cases might be attended with advantage. In that instance, however, as well as in others he had mentioned, it was clear that ships had been built without foresight, and without a knowledge of the principle on which they were constructed. He now came to another subject, which was well worthy the attention of the House—he alluded to the system of promotion in the Navy. He held in his hand a return of the list of commissioned officers of all grades, soon after the termination of the war, namely, on the 1st of January, 1816. That return showed that there was then one admiral of the fleet, 66 admirals, 68 vice-admirals, 75 rear-admirals, 851 captains, 812 commanders, and 4,014 lieutenants. The system of promotion which then existed, went on without hindrance to 1830, until at last Lord Melville became alarmed at the state in which the system had brought the Navy; and he and his colleagues at the Board of Admiralty came to the resolution to put a stop to promotion, unless under peculiar circumstances. An Admiralty Minute was adopted to give effect to this resolution, by which naval promotion was restricted to one vacancy in three, unless in the case of special brilliant services. The Minute was dated the 17th of February, 1830, and was as follows:—Their Lordships having taken into consideration the state of the half-pay list, and being desirous of operating its gradual reduction in time of peace—Resolve, That from this date no promotion 552 (except for special brilliant service) shall be made in any rank of commission officers (save flag-officers), except in the proportion of one promotion for every three vacancies which may be made by the removal by death, dismissal, or other cause, of officers from the effective lists of each rank kept at this office; death or court-martial vacancies, liable to be filled by commanders-in-chief abroad, not being reckoned. Promotion being thus limited, their Lordships deem it necessary that a control in some degree corresponding should be placed upon the original entry of young gentlemen into the service; they, therefore, resolve that in future all appointments of volunteers of the first class shall be made directly by their Lordships. Their Lordships direct that these regulations be communicated to the commanders-in-chief on foreign stations, with an observation that they do not alter the authority vested in them of appointing by commissions to death or court-martial vacancies; but that they do apply to the subsequent vacancies which may be occasioned by the promotion of an officer into an actual death or court-martial vacancy, and that such subsequent vacancies are to be filled up only by acting orders, as in the case of invaliding vacancies.He would ask, what had been the effect of adopting this Admiralty Minute? Had the rule laid down in it been adhered to? A comparison of the number of officers in the list of the Royal Navy, on the 27th of February, 1830, and on the 30th of September, 1846, would show whether the former extravagant system of promotion had been abandoned, and the rule laid down in the Minute adhered to. At the former period there were 171 flag-officers, at the latter 139; in 1830 there were 858 captains, and in 1846 there were 730; in 1830 there were 918 commanders, and in 1846 there were 855; at the former date there were 3,550 lieutenants, and at the latter 2,538, showing a reduction of 827 in the number of lieutenants in 1846 as compared with 1830. It appeared from this and other returns that the rule which had been adopted in 1830 had not been adhered to in any case. To illustrate this further, he would refer to another return of navy officers who had died, been dismissed the service, and promoted, between the 27th of February, 1830, and the 30th of September, 1846: 245 flag-officers had died, and there had been 189 promotions; of captains 361 had died, 4 had been dismissed or removed the service; 189 had been removed by promotion to higher ranks, thus making 509 removals, while there had been 365 promotions to that rank. Of commanders 315 had died, 6 had been dismissed or removed the service, and 389 had been removed by promotion to higher ranks, thus making 710 removals, while there had been 685 promotions. 553 Of lieutenants, 1,049 had died, 65 had been dismissed or removed the service, and 1,153 had been removed by promotion to higher rank, making 2,267 removals, while there had been 1,224 promotions. He also found, during the same period, that 47 captains had been promoted for special brilliant service, and 212 by brevet and general promotions, and 3 by death or court-martial vacancies. Of commanders, 112 had been promoted for special brilliant service, 375 by special or general promotions, and 19 by death or court-martial vacancies. Of lieutenants, 127 had been promoted for special brilliant service, 319 by special or general promotions, and 115 by death or court-martial vacancies. Last year 30,000l. was granted to enable the Admiralty to make an effective retiring list, so that the list of effective flag-officers should be reduced to 150, and the list of captains to 500; and there were to be no further promotions until the list was thus reduced. Instead of the number of promotions to the rank of flag-officers being such as to make the number 150, it was made up to 160; but now the number was only 2 above the proposed list, as the rest had died. As for the captains, the Admiralty had told the House distinctly that the object in view was to get rid of a number of old officers, and to place a number of young and efficient officers on the list of captains. But what had taken place? 60 commanders had been made captains; and of the officers thus promoted, several were as old as many of those who had been removed off the effective list of captains. It was a breach of faith, then, on the part of the Admiralty, to make such a promotion, while they had reduced the list of captains to 500. The effect of this proceeding on the part of the Admiralty would make the patronage of that board greater than ever. It was clear from the returns that had been made, that the Admiralty would have the promotion of twenty-five officers to the rank of captain every year. So it was with respect to the list of commanders; and yet the Admiralty had promoted eighty old lieutenants to that rank. The Admiralty had imprudently ordered three screw-vessels to be built, without having tried one; and thirty-three iron steamers, without trying any of them. They had likewise last year ordered four line-of-battle ships—seventy-fours, and four frigates, to be cut down to steam block-ships. He hoped the Secretary to the Admiralty would tell them whether 554 there was any contract for that work. There they had those four seventy-fours and four frigates to be altered, at an expense of he did not know how much. He perceived an item of 18,000l. voted last year for repairing those ships; but that sum would not do one of them. How then was it to be done? They were not yet finished, for one of them was still going on in Mr. Green's yard; and one case he should particularly mention, in which a vessel, acknowledged to be a fine frigate, was turned into a bad steam-boat. Now the sum of 18,000l. was in the estimates of last year set down for repairing steam guard-ships, but there was no vote at all for the purpose in the estimates of the present year. There was a sum last year of 120,000l. for building iron steam vessels. This year, for the same purpose, the sum was 78,175l. The best thing he could recommend them to do with those vessels would be to get the contractors to take them off their hands, for they were good for nothing. They were no use for war, and those that had been on foreign stations were found to have their bottoms so deteriorated that they would never be fit for anything. When the House then, and the country, voted away so much money, it was necessary they should know how it had been expended. He hoped the present Admiralty would do better than their predecessors in office had done. They had not been long enough in to enable a judgment to be formed upon their acts; but he hoped from what he had heard that they would improve upon those who had gone before them. He understood that a commission had been lately appointed by the board, and that it was sitting in the Admiralty for the consideration of the propriety, and with the view, of increasing the pay of the men, and for the purpose of specially considering the increase of pay to engineers. Now, that was a question of great importance; for we never, by accident even, sent a steam-boat to sea, but she surely broke down. He thought the cause of such accidents was attributable to the parsimony of the Admiralty, which by sending inferior engineers to sea—persons who were previously unacquainted with the vessels, did not take sufficient precaution. They never sent, as they ought, a man to the vessel when she was fitting out, to see that her machinery was good, and properly placed in her. He himself knew a case in which an engineer who had seen the machinery fitting up in a steam vessel, 555 knew that there was a fault in it, and that vessel was sent to sea, at the risk, not only of the loss of the ship, but of the valuable lives on board of her. He thought that engineers ought to have at all events the same rating as lieutenants in the Royal Navy. He believed that the Admiralty had it in contemplation to rate them as such. [Admiral DUNDAS: Engineers have got that rating.] He was glad to hear it. The petty officers ought next to be thought of, both first-class and second-class; and the seamen ought to be paid better than they had been hitherto, so that the punishment they would have in their power to inflict upon the men would be dismissal from the service. If the service were made so good as that discharge would be a punishment, they would be soon enabled to get rid altogether of the question of corporal punishment in the Navy. He wished, therefore, to know whether the Admiralty were ready to pay attention this year to the suggestion of increasing the pay. He might be considered rather exacting in requiring so much from a new board; but he liked to keep the Admiralty to their trumps, and so he began at once with them. He wished likewise to know whether they had yet established a seamen's home? And he should also like to be informed upon the subject of the merchant seamen's fund. The House had been promised that it should be looked after; and he should like to know the result. If the Government did not intend to ameliorate the condition of the merchant seamen's fund, they had better repeal the Act at once. There was another question which also was one of great importance. He was aware it was one about which the Admiralty itself had great doubt, but he thought it one of great importance. It was so, too, with regard to the Registration of Seamen Bill. The subject had been began by a right hon. Friend of his a great many years ago. About two years ago the late Secretary of the Admiralty (the right hon. Sidney Herbert) and himself brought in a Bill to register the men, and it had done a great deal of good. He had received a letter from a friend of his upon the subject, which stated that in the year 1845 the number of register tickets issued was 18,013, and the desertions amounted to 4,000; whilst in the subsequent year the tickets amounted to 23,000, and the desertions were only 2,0000. He thought the system might be further improved; and Mr. Brown had 556 suggested a plan for preventing desertions, and at the same time saving the men from being cheated, by having a person to seal the tickets. He next came to the subject of enlistment. As the law stood, Her Majesty's proclamation being issued in time of war, calling on seamen to enlist, each able seaman who appeared in answer to the call within five days, became entitled to 10l. bounty; and ordinary seamen and landsmen volunteering were entitled to bounties in proportion. Now, if 40,000 or 50,000 men were to offer, as they might, in answer to such a proclamation, the moment it was issued the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be prepared to come out with 500,000l. at once. Now, that Bill should be amended. He would not take away the bounty altogether, because it would be breaking faith with the men who were entitled to receive it; but only in the event of hostilities actually taking place should the bounty be given—when, in fact, the men would be likely to be employed for some time, and not merely for two or three weeks. As the law stood at present, by the issue of a proclamation the whole merchant service would be deranged; but if they arranged so as that every boy who was apprenticed to the merchant service might be called on when out of his time to serve in the Royal Navy, they would be able to call upon just as many men as might be necessary at any given time. The necessities of the merchant service would thereby he attended to. But much good might be effected by the Government if they would consider the composition of the Board of Admiralty, and re-arrange the disposition of the business. Many of the errors that had been committed throughout the service arose from the fact, that the First Lord had a great deal too much to do; a great deal too much was thrown upon him, and unfortunately it was his own fault. The First Lord thought he must have all the dockyards as well as all the fleet under his own hands. He would suggest that the senior officer of the board should have all the fleet to look after, and that the whole of the dockyard business should be looked to by the next. He could speak with some degree of experience on the weight of dockyard business, having been allowed by the late Admiralty to build one ship himself, and he gave the whole of his attention to it. He had the builders and the engineers down to consult together over the construction, and he could assure 557 the House that such a course was necessary, in order that each should properly understand his duties. In the construction of steam-ships the man who built the vessel, and the man who had to construct her engines, ought to be brought together to consult, as it was impossible otherwise to decide where the shafts of the engines should be fixed. They should arrange how to dispose every ton, and that would be utterly impracticable when the engineer was in Glasgow and the shipbuilder at Portsmouth, and they were never brought together to consult. They neither had any one to tell them the weight or height of anything, or even what height the guns should be out of the water. The First Lord of the Admiralty could not, if he were a young man of 30, go through the requisite duties properly, and he had himself told Sir George Cockburn so; and how, then, could it be possible for a man of 70 or 66 (as he believed was about Sir G. Cockburn's age) to get through them? He knew that the gallant Admiral opposite (Admiral Dundas) agreed with him. In fact it was notorious that the common expression was, "The First Lord of the Admiralty has too much to do." The next point to which he would allude was the manning of the ships. He should give the hon. and gallant Captain (Captain Berkeley) the credit of having, on the subject, done the best thing that had been hitherto attempted, in having directed the forty-gun ships to carry their full complement of men. But he found that they were 4,000 men short of the full complement required for the service. ["No, no!—4,000 over."] He admitted the correction. He should have said 4,000 over. It was only a mistake. But the noble Lord who moved the Address last year had stated, that no ships should again be sent to sea without their full complement. Sir G. Cockburn said the same. The three-deckers were to carry 1,000 men. They were to be crammed to overflowing. But when the squadron—that squadron which had attracted so much observation—put to sea, those vessels, instead of having their full complement of seamen, had the numbers made up with 200 or 300 marines. Three of them, with those short complements, were still in the Mediterranean, and one of them was at Lisbon. If, then, they had 3,000 or 4,000 men over the number requisite to complete all the crews, how were they to be paid, for he understood that in some vessels there were 100 558 short? And if the 4,000 were to be paid off, how were they to fill up the complements of those ships that were still at sea? He asked the pardon of the House for having at such great length occupied its attention, even at the risk of wearying the attention of his noble Friend—if the noble Lord the Member for Lynn would allow him to call him so. The noble Lord had stated his opinion a few nights back to be, that he (Sir C. Napier) was like a fish out of water the moment he stepped off the quarter-deck. But surely his noble Friend should have considered, before he used such an expression, that he himself was liable to a similar animadversion. He too had his quarter-deck, and his quarter-deck was Newmarket and the turf. He (Sir C. Napier) wondered that the noble Lord, when he came into the House, did not recollect that he might be suspected of knowing little of the subject which he had undertaken. But as the noble Lord had spoken of the Sidon, he begged to tell the noble Lord that she would be ready for sea by Saturday night, and if the noble Lord would do him the honour of accompanying him, he would give him a cruise to the Isle of Wight, which might give him some idea of the vessel, and he should have the best bottle of port wine that could be procured, which would console him in some degree for the loss of his Railway Bill, and the awful defeat of his great party.
said, that he was very unwilling to detain the Speaker in the chair, and that as most of the arguments which they had heard that night had been advanced by the gallant Admiral on, at least, half a dozen former occasions, and had been as often answered by himself and others, he need not advert further to them than to refer the gallant Admiral to the volumes of Hansard, up stairs, where the whole were, doubtless, faithfully recorded. But there was one point on which he felt himself called on to make a few observations, not only because the credit of the late Board of Admiralty was involved in it, but also because it was in itself of considerable national importance: he alluded to the conduct of the late board, in so largely constructing iron ships of war. The matter was of national importance for two reasons. It was known that by far the largest portion of the timber used in the construction of ships of war was of foreign growth; and it was, therefore, a material point, if iron, which was easily procured in this country, and in 559 any quantities, could be safely applied to the building of ships of war; and secondly, if there was a sudden demand for an increase of our naval force, as there was during the last war, when forty ships of the line were required at once—which, on account of the cost to which the country was put by their repairs, were afterwards known by the name of the Forty Thieves—it would be totally impossible, either in our public dockyards, or in the yards of private builders, to find a sufficiency of seasoned timber; and the necessary consequence would be premature decay. These were, he thought, reasons quite sufficient to justify the late Board of Admiralty in fully testing the experiment of constructing steamers of iron; but the gallant Admiral said that the late Government carried that experiment to too great an extent; he said that it appeared from a return which had been laid on the Table of the House, that thirty-three iron vessels had been ordered since 1840. Now, the number out of those thirty-three actually ordered by the late Board of Admiralty, was only twenty-four; the remainder, consisting of five or six small vessels which were built by the preceding board, and of three or four packets, he believed intended for the Holy-head station, which had been ordered by the present Government. The gallant Admiral had, in the course of his observations, questioned the fitness of iron as a material for building vessels designed for ordinary purposes, as contradistinguished from purposes of war. He had stated that the Grappler had so strained herself, that nearly all on board were lost. He thought that if that were so, it must have been the result of some accidental defect, for he believed that for general purposes nothing was more fully proved than that iron was a fit material for the construction of vessels. In coming into that House that evening, a paper had been put into his hand by an iron shipbuilder, who had built no less than 250 iron vessels, some of them of 1,800 tons; and that was a pretty good proof of the opinion entertained by the merchants of this country of iron being a fit material for constructing vessels; and, if there were any doubt upon that point, he need only turn to Dundrum Bay, where the Great Britain had been lying for months almost uninjured, although exposed to the action of a sea which few wooden vessels would have been able to withstand. He was aware, however, that the gravamen of the charge against the late board was involved in the 560 question of the fitness of iron as a material for vessels intended for war. Now, of the twenty-four vessels ordered by the late Board of Admiralty, six—the Bloodhound and Harpy class—had only been temporarily employed as men-of-war, and were never intended to be so employed permanently; having been built merely for the purpose of keeping up the communication between the dockyards, conveying newly-raised men, and other such services. Several others were built for the packet service. Another was Her Majesty's yacht, the Fairy: and out of the whole twenty-four only seven were intended or ever designed by the Admiralty for the purposes of war. Again, of these seven, two—the Sharpshooter and the Teazer—were of very small size; and if they failed, the loss would not be much. There were, however, five large vessels which had been designed for war purposes, the Birkenhead, and the four other large steam frigates to which the gallant Admiral had referred: the gallant Admiral had chosen to assume that the late Board of Admiralty had embarked blindfold in this experiment, and that they had had no proof that iron was a fit material to oppose to shot. He did not know where the gallant Admiral had been living of late; but he believed that every other Member of the House had heard of the Nemesis—an iron vessel—which had rendered such brilliant service during the Chinese war. It was the favourable reports they had received of that vessel, that first led the attention of the Government to the building of iron vessels. They had received similar reports of the Guadaloupe, a vessel that was built for service under the Mexican Government, and had been commanded by Commander Charlewood. The gallant Admiral said that an experiment had been tried at Portsmouth, and that that experiment was conclusive against iron for ships of war. But that experiment was tried on a vessel that was never intended for war; one that was built before the late Government came into office, merely for the purpose of carrying shipwrights from Portsmouth to Spithead, and having the lightest possible scantling; her plates having been originally only ⅛ of an inch think, and reduced by wear, as he had been informed, to little more than half that thickness. Against this experiment he would appeal to the evidence of Captain Hall, who had so ably commanded the Nemesis during the whole of the operations in China, as well as to the evidence of 561 Captain Charlewood. Captain Hall stated in a letter which he (Mr. Corry) had lately received from him, that—The Nemesis was frequently struck, as often as fourteen times in one action, and much damaged by shot in her upper works; but only one shot can be said to have gone straight through the vessel, which made a hole as if you had put your finger through a piece of paper. Other shots struck the Nemesis in a slanting direction, and merely indented the iron, glancing off without penetrating. We remarked no particular danger from splinters of iron; but I would observe, that the Nemesis was constructed of the best possible material, and put together with the best possible workmanship. She was also divided into seven water-tight compartments; and I am of decided opinion that no war-steamer of iron should be divided into less. The Nemesis had holes knocked in her bottom many times by sharp rocks; but those were easily stopped for the time by driving in plugs of wood and oakum from the inside. For myself, judging from my own experience, and well knowing that the sides of iron steamers (particularly between wind and water) could be strengthend and supported so as to prevent the destructive effects of shot, which have caused so much alarm, I should still give the preference to an iron over a wooden steamer as a command under all circumstances.And Captain Charlewood, of the Guadaloupe, referring to that vessel in a letter to him, written only a few days previously, said—Notwithstanding the extraordinary report which had been sent home of the effects of shot upon one of our iron men-of-war, my opinion is as strong as ever upon this subject, providing the vessel is properly built; and I should still certainly prefer commanding an iron steam frigate to a wooden one. I think also that you will consider my opinion as to the effects of shot upon iron vessels is not a rash one, or made upon slight grounds, when I inform you of the following particular cases which occurred to the Guadaloupe Mexican steam-frigate, two of which occurred when I was actually on board in command of the vessel, and the others very shortly after the Admiralty order reached me instructing me to return home, when Mr. Martin, a relative of mine, was in command. Full particulars of each case I have both from him and other officers who were on board:—1. A 24lb. shot struck the vessel on the bow, at the point where the woodwork of the head is bolted on the bow, and consequently lies on the iron side. This shot, fired from a distance of about 1,000 yards, passed through the woodwork, say about five inches thick, and the iron, and dropped on board, simply making a hole sufficiently large to let the shot pass through. 2. A shot struck the counter, indented the iron, and glanced off; had the vessel been constructed of wood, this shot, I think, would have entered. 3. A 24lb. shot, nearly spent, struck the iron bulwark on the inside, having passed over the port side of the vessel; this shot started the iron and burst the rivets of a plate for about nine inches in length. 4. A full plumper 24lb. shot struck just abaft the mainmast, on the port side, and about two feet under water; this shot passed through the side, and lodged in the coal bunker; 562 the hole was made quite tight temporarily with a common plug; no rivets were started, or damage done, beyond the circular hole made by the shot. 5. An 18lb. shot fired at a distance of about 200 yards; this shot struck the vessel's side near the foremast, passed through the iron, making as clean a hole as if it had been drilled, and through three casks of salt provisions. These shot-holes were all repaired by the boiler-makers, who served on board as engineers and firemen. Four holes were drilled round each shot-hole from the inside, corresponding with four holes in an iron plate, which was lowered down on the outside, and four screw-bolts made them perfectly tight and secure, not a drop of water finding its way through; the vessel was in severe weather repeatedly afterwards, and I believe that to this day nothing more has been done to these shot-holes. I should remark that the case No. 3. of the spent shot, would have been the worst leak to contend with, had it struck the vessel under water, as a plug could not easily have been applied; but still the leak would not have been comparatively a severe one. Several other shots struck the vessel about the hull, both when I was on board and afterwards, but these are the only cases worth mentioning, and which have any bearing upon the question in point.He thought these statements were pretty clear as to the opinion of two officers of the greatest experience in the English Navy with respect to iron vessels; and he asked whether the opinion of the gallant Admiral, who had had no experience of iron vessels, deserved to be set against that of officers who not only stated facts which had come under their own observation on actual service and under fire, and which went directly to prove that iron was a fit material for steam vessels of war, but who both declared that they would actually prefer an iron to a wooden steamer, as a command, under all circumstances. The late Board of Admiralty had not, however, intended to construct any more iron steamers, until the vessels they had already built were fully tested; and he thought the present Board of Admiralty would act wisely in adopting the course he believed they were adopting, in holding their hand as to building more, until they had been fully tried. He hoped, however, they would not allow these iron vessels to be shelved, until they had had the most convincing proofs that iron was not a fit material for ships of war; and, even if it should so appear, still the iron steamers now in progress of building would be of the greatest possible service for the conveyance of troops; a service for which vessels of that description were much required, and for which they would be admirably adapted. The gallant Admiral said, he thought it extremely rash in the late Board of Admiralty to construct so many as seventeen screw vessels, without trying the effect of the 563 screw first. He (Mr. Corry) recollected that in that House the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton was always taunting the Board of Admiralty for not building screw vessels—[Captain PECHELL: Because you were so long about it]—and the gallant Admiral said they had been too hasty. It was really no very easy matter to satisfy everybody; but when the gallant Admiral said that they had not tried the effect of the screw, he replied that the experiment had been fully tested in the Rattler, in the Great Britain, and in other vessels. These experiments had been so successful, that it was almost the universal opinion that the screw must supersede the paddle-wheel as a propeller in vessels of war; because, even if there should be a loss of speed, it would be more than compensated by the security which would result from the circumstance that the whole of the machinery, including the steam-chest and the propeller itself, would be under the water line, and thus protected against shot. The gallant Admiral also complained that the late Government had converted eight ships of the line and frigates into steam guardships, without trying one first. But these vessels were not designed for services requiring great speed, but were merely intended for the defence of the dockyards and adjoining parts of the coast, and had been fitted on the recommendation of a commission composed of officers of great experience and ability; and there could be no doubt but that they would prove perfectly successful for the purposes for which they were designed. He believed that he had answered the whole of the gallant Admiral's objections to which he thought it necessary to advert on the present occasion; and he would, therefore, trespass no further on the time of the House, as he was very unwilling to detain it from going into Committee on the Navy Estimates.
said, the attack which the gallant Admiral opposite had made on the present Board of Admiralty, as to promotion, was most unjust and illiberal; and the comparison he had drawn, as to the number of officers promoted, was most erroneous. He held in his hand a list of the state of the Navy in 1816 and in 1817, and he found that in that period no less than 1,454 officers had died. In 1816, the number of admirals was 210. It was now 156. Of captains, in 1816, the number was 851. It was now 697. Of lieutenants, in 1816, there were 4,014. There were now 2,448. So that in that number 564 of years 1,500 had disappeared from the list. The number of promotions that had been made of lieutenants, for meritorious service, by the present Board of Admiralty was 160; and he regretted that when that promotion was announced, the number was not doubled, to show the sense of the Board of Admiralty had of the services of those officers.
§ CAPTAIN HARRIS
expressed his satisfaction at learning that it was not the intention of the Government to convert men-of-war into carrying vessels. Any such arrangement would interfere with the discipline of the men. Neither would it do to take the guns out of the ships. If the House would look at the relations which existed between this country and France, it would see that they were not such as to justify the disarming of the vessels, and sending them to the Black Sea for grain, thus rendering them liable to be intercepted on their return should war arise. He would not object, however, to the employment of ships in ordinary to purposes calculated to facilitate the introduction of food into Ireland. With respect to the vessels that had been, and were to be, as it was termed, converted, there was, he thought, great reason for complaint: the armament of this small frigate-class was unsatisfactory. They had ponderous swivel-guns on the upper deck, and the men working them were without protection; in close action those vessels were most likely to be over-matched, whilst the hatchways being very small, they were liable to be carried by boarding. There was also the difficulty of working the heavy guns when they became heated. Further, he wished to call the attention of the House to the manner in which the steam vessels belonging to the Navy were built. They were built solely with a view to speed, and were quite too narrow and sharp to carry the weight of metal and machinery which men-of-war ought to bear. With these remarks he should, perhaps, content himself, had not blame been thrown by the gallant Admiral on the subject of the late promotion; now he was bound to declare that he quite approved of the spirit which actuated the Admiralty in their recent arrangements respecting promotions. If they desired to secure the service of young and active men, they must be liberal in the matter of promotions. He was quite of opinion that the Admiralty had in this respect been actuated by a proper spirit, and had done 565 all that could be expected from them. As to the subject of punishment in the Navy, he felt that that was one which would be much better discussed at the Board of Admiralty than in the House of Commons. He must, however, say, with reference to the order that had been already issued, that if a captain were not competent to control his crew at home, he ought not to be trusted with large powers upon foreign stations. While fitting out a ship, a captain would naturally be loth to make a report to the admiral in command, and the gallant Officer opposite well knew that on the training of the first three months depended the discipline of a ship's company. If punishment were necessary in any given case, it ought to be inflicted according to a settled plan, and Government ought, instead of encouraging Members to come down and make Motions—they ought, he contended, to propose to the House some plan of their own. If the Admiralty would come down with a definite plan upon this subject, they could then deal with it according to its merits; but, after what had occurred the other night upon the subject, he thought that they would hardly be secure in adopting at once any measures that might be thrust upon them with a view of abolishing altogether the present system. His own opinion was, as he had before stated, that there should be a gradual reduction of punishment. He would limit the authority of captains to punish only to the extent of thirty lashes to be inflicted for special offences named in the Printed Instructions. He would limit the authority under court-martials, to award fifty lashes the same as in the Army. He did not think they could go safely beyond that at present. He did not, however, say it was impossible that they should ultimately do without flogging altogether. It was a well-ascertained fact that many men came under the lash from taking a glass too much of grog; and many of the young men could not drink the allowance of spirits with impunity. Now he thought it would be a material improvement to give the men the option of taking up an additional quarter of a pound of salt beef in lieu of the quarter of a pint of rum. The cost of both was nearly alike. If a man were therefore found to be the worse for liquor in the evening, it would have a very good effect to leave it at the discretion of the captain to have his grog converted into beef. He was of opinion that this would be a great improvement.
§ MR. HUME
coincided with most of the 566 views expressed by the gallant Admiral (Sir C. Napier) with regard to the building and alteration of ships. No subject connected with the estimates was more important than this; and if he had not known that the present Admiralty were engaged in devising means to prevent such waste, he should, before this, have brought the subject under notice. No question could be more clearly demonstrated than this—that the building of ships for the Navy had been upon the worst principle, and that they were worse constructed than those of any country in the world. There was no instance anywhere of so many ships being cut down and altered; and for the last twenty or thirty years there had been no instance of any ship built for any particular purpose turning out fit for that purpose. The waste of materials and labour he believed to be equal to what the gallant Admiral (Sir C. Napier) had stated; and he never saw the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir James Graham) when the Navy was mentioned, without feeling that in 1832, when he was First Lord of the Admiralty, he struck the greatest blow that had ever been levelled against the naval architecture of this country. The report of the Commissioners appointed in 1806 to inquire into the civil affairs of the Navy, stated that at that time our naval architecture had been neglected. We had not a ship then but what was built from foreign moulds. Our best vessels were taken from the French, Spaniards, Danes, and Swedes. He blamed the Government of the day for not having adopted a better system. The consequence of that report was the establishment of a School of Naval Architecture, which, he contended, the gallant Admiral had not proved inefficient. As to promotion, he should be prepared to show the House that the late step had cost the country a million and a half. He did not grudge the money if it were applied to a useful purpose; but if it were not, he should grudge it. Concerning wages, he would recommend the Government to allow them to follow the general rule. They must not think of keeping up the same rate at all times. The rate must depend upon the demand. If in time of war, wages were limited to the same rate as was paid during peace, men could not be blamed if they deserted when they were wanted; but he was confident if the power of the Government were exercised so as to render their situation comfortable, and to improve it, they would have abundance of men in war, as 567 well as in peace. A fair rate of wages would prevent any difficulty in manning the Navy. The step which the Admiralty had taken was honourable to them, and he hoped they would not be led away from it.
§ House in Committee.
§ Mr. WARD
said, he could not help feeling very strongly impressed with a sense of the difficulty of discharging the duty of laying before the House a statement respecting the Navy estimates for the present year: first, on account of the large expenditure at present necessary, and, secondly, on account of the great variety of items over which that expenditure was distributed, which made it difficult for him to lay before the House a clear and intelligible statement, without trespassing largely upon its indulgence. He would begin by stating that the gross estimates would exceed those of last year by a sum of 62,284l. But the difference in the money actually to be voted, was still larger; for the credits in aid for the year 1846–7, were 190,461l., while the credits in aid for the present year would be 175,322l. The difference between these was 15,139l., and the difference in the net votes would amount to 77,423l. He agreed with his right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, and his hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, in some of the observations which they made upon the financial statement of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was as much impressed as they, or as any one could be, with the conviction that there was no subject more deserving of the watchfulness of Parliament, than this tendency of the estimates to increase during a time of peace. Hon. Members had adverted to the state of the estimates in the years 1834 and 1835, when they were 4,245,723l. and 4,533,543l. respectively; but if there were any force in that reference, he saw no reason why they should not go as far back as the year 1817, when the whole number of seamen and marines amounted to only 19,000. Why did not his hon. Friends do this? Because common sense told them that no country could fix a standard for its naval expenditure without reference to the expenditure of other countries. All power was relative. It was power only until it was met by a power greater than its own. The nations of Europe had now enjoyed a long-peace. In 1817 they were at the close of a long war. Their resources were then exhausted. They were now in a different 568 condition. They had been allowed time to recruit their resources, and a naval establishment, which would have been adequate, or ample, might, in 1817, be quite inadequate to our present exigencies. When he used the word "inadequate," he meant it only in reference to national defence, and not to purposes of aggrandizement. He felt as strongly as any man the blessings of peace; but he felt also that the best, nay, the only way to secure them, was always to be in a position to defy hostility; and he believed that there would be no man in that House who, on that principle, would not feel that we must keep up a parity of position with other Powers, in the great scale of national importance. Two things, therefore, he must do, in order to obtain the assent of the House to the vote he was about to propose: first, he must show what the increase in the effective strength of the Navy really was; and, secondly, he would show that such increase did not bear more than a fair proportion to the increase of the naval strength of other Powers. Indeed, he very much doubted whether we had as yet taken precautions enough; whether we had reached the point at which we could stop, consistently with the maintenance of the honour and integrity of the empire. First, then, what was the increase in the naval establishment? To come at the real increase, it was necessary to strip the subject of all extraneous matter; for instance, the packet service, which had gone on swelling the estimates from year to year. He did not say that there had been an improper increase in this department: it had been the natural consequence of the increase of intercourse with our colonies and dependencies, and with other commercial countries. Still, the House must bear in mind, that whereas in 1830 the amount required for the packet service was 27,870l., and in 1811 only 24,040l., the vote he should propose to-night included no less a sum than 820,083l. for that service, in one shape or other. There were also other branches of charge in which there had been a great increase, but which did not directly belong to the effective naval service of the country, such as the army and ordnance transport service, the troop ships, and the victualling of them, as well as the supplies furnished to other departments; the difference between the half-pay and the pension list, calculated upon a scale corresponding with the present 569 active list of admirals, &c.; and the present dead weight, including the half-pay (725,788l.), and pensions to widows and seamen (491,447l.) The total amount of these different branches of charge, which could not be said to form a part of the effective naval service, but were nevertheless included in the estimates, was 1,564,948l. The House would find, therefore, that the total sum applied by England to the maritime defence of the country, including the wages and victuals of seamen and marines, the dockyards, building, repairs, steam machinery, afloat and ashore, &c., was 5,996,928l., after deducting the non-naval services from the net vote for the current year, or 7,561,876l.; by England, too, be it remembered, a country which had no other defences, of which the coast was unprotected, which had a disposable army of but 20,000 men, without a militia, a fortified town, or any military organization whatever. And yet, while we voted, under these circumstances, but 5,996,928l. for our naval service, France, by her estimate for the present year, which he had received a day or two ago, devoted, to the same purpose, 5,639,383l., making a difference between France and England of only 357,545l., although France had her coast admirably fortified, her capital impregnable, a standing army of 300,000 men, and a national guard of a million to fall back upon. And at the same time, the House must be aware that within the last two years a remarkable change had taken place in the naval establishment of France. In 1846, the Chamber of Deputies added, on the deliberate report of the Government, an extraordinary credit of 93,000,000f., to be spread over seven years, to the ordinary estimate for the year. The estimates for the year 1847–8 amounted to 140,984,591f., or 5,639,383l. Of this amount, 19,800,000f., or 792,000l. were for extraordinary service, which, added to the ordinary service of 121,184,591f., or 4,847,383l., made up the grand total. The amounts ordered to be applied to shipbuilding very considerably exceeded the amounts which should be appropriated, were the proportion of the seventh part of the 93,000,000f. strictly adhered to. And the Minister of Marine, at the close of his report, said in explanation of this—It is thought to be in harmony with the manifest intentions of the Chambers, that the building of new ships should be proceeded with as fast as possible, so as to complete the projected increase 570 of the fleet as soon as can be done, without waiting for the term of seven years. The works for 1847 and 1848 are regulated with this view. The sum of 2,100,000f., 84,000l., for steam-engines likewise, and for the same reason, exceeds the proportion of the seventh.The great object of this increased expenditure was, that France might increase the number of her ships from 359, which they were in 1846, to 390, which was what they intended to be. Now, he found no fault with France for these things. France did what she thought right and necessary for the maintenance of her position. She set us in many respects a noble example. He admired the wise and systematic liberality with which her great naval works had been carried on from year to year till she had compensated herself for the natural disadvantages under which she laboured, along the whole coast of the Channel, by some of the most magnificent works now in existence. Along the whole coast from north to south—from Dunkirk and Calais, to Havre, Cherbourg, St. Servan, Brest, L'Orient, Indret, Rochfort, and Toulon—works were going on of which that House had but little conception either as to the actual importance of the works themselves, or of the magnificent artificial harbours that were being constructed there. For Cherbourg, 44,000,000 francs had been appropriated; 18,000,000 for the breakwater, and 26,000,000 for the dockyard. The yard contained 231 acres, and 16 building slips; and 6,000 workmen were employed there; while the breakwater exceeded that at Devonport by one mile in length. At Brest the steam establishment was on a larger scale than any which England possessed. The smithery contained 127 fires, while that at Portsmouth had only 48; and the same proportions were maintained at the other harbours. These facts, it appeared to him, ought to be a lesson to us. They imposed a very heavy responsibility on those who were in power in this country. It behoved them to take care, by the proper development of our resources in time of peace, to prevent the balance of power being changed in case of war. It was true that England had no need to vie with France in the extent Government had gone to in these great Government establishments, because, besides our natural advantages, there existed so many resources of a private nature, in the hands of commercial companies and individuals, which could be made available in the event of additional naval power being required. But, even as between Governments, a certain 571 parity must be kept up between the naval resources of the two nations. England must not grudge the money that went to fortify her arsenals and coasts, for the worst possible economy was that which left them exposed in the event of war. He could not congratulate the House on its work in this respect being nearly done. It was only begun within the last five years. We did not begin till 1842; while France had carried on her works systematically for sixteen years. The finest naval stations in the world, were ours, and we had scandalously neglected them. Bermuda was a disgrace to us. Malta was yet far from being complete; and both Portsmouth and Devonport were most inadequately defended. Throughout the Mediterranean we had not a place where a steam-boat of any size could be repaired. He did hope, however, that the dockyard establishment at Malta would, ere long, be so improved that every necessary repair of steam-vessels might be effected there with as much ease as in this country. From what, however, had this state of things arisen? From the unwise economy, the miserable parsimony, which had refused in former years to look forward to inevitable necessities. Ten years ago we thought of nothing but cutting down the establishments of the country; and now we were obliged to crowd into three years what ought to have been spread over ten; and the consequence was, that what every one admitted to be inevitable, was done under ten times greater pressure than it otherwise would have been, and at a time when the Chancellor of the Exchequer could very ill spare a single shilling beyond the current necessities of the country. And yet there was no help for it, unless we were prepared to leave this mighty empire in a state which no man would say the power of England ought to be left in. It might, however, be asked, what had the present Board of Admiralty done to redeem the promise they gave last year, that they would improve and systematize our naval resources? In the first place, he must answer, they had done, and were prepared to propose, much less than they could have wished. But any hon. Member who listened to the statement made the other night by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, must have seen how small was the margin with which the public departments had to deal. The choice was less as to what to do than as to what to leave undone; and many things had been left undone which he (Mr. Ward) 572 sincerely regretted. The question raised last year as to the naval reserve, they had been compelled to postpone; and they were also unprepared to deal with the question of coal depôts, though they felt them to be most essential. The works at Bermuda must be suspended for another year, until those were finished which were nearer home. It was thought more necessary to add 1,500 men to the marines (which would be proposed under vote No. 1), and to reorganize entirely the corps of naval engineers. Nothing, it must be admitted, could be more pressing than this latter subject, considering the great importance of the duties which the engineers had to perform, and the detriment to the public service arising from the incompetency of many of those who were now employed in that department. A Committee had been appointed to consider the subject, consisting of officers who were thought to be best acquainted with the steam navy, and presided over by his noble Friend Lord John Hay. That Committee made a most able and conclusive report. It admitted at once that the inferiority of the pay in the Government service, as compared with others, drew away from that service the men most eminent in character and abilities, and left the service too often as the last resource for the ignorant and unworthy. The report then went on to make a comparative statement of the pay in the Government service, and that of the East India Company or of the merchant service. In both those services, the duty was much better performed than in Her Majesty's service, because they could command the best men. It appeared from the statement of the Committee that the pay of a first-class engineer in Her Majesty's service was 13l. 8s. per month, no allowance being made for outfit, nor any addition for long service. In the East India Company's service, besides an allowance of 50l. for outfit, the pay of a first-class engineer was 15l. 7s. 8¼d. per month for the first three years; 19l. 4s. 7d. for the next four years; and from the eighth year, 23l. 1s. 6d. per month. In the merchant service, the West India, and China Packet Companies' service, and the other great private companies' service, the pay of a first-class engineer was, for the India and China packets, 25l. per month; for the Mediterranean 16l. per month; and for the West Indies, from 16l. to 20l. per month. In the one service they were reckoned as men of a high—almost liberal—education; while, in the other, they 573 ranked below the lowest warrant officers, were not treated as gentlemen, until most of those who really were gentlemen, and were qualified, had been driven from the service. Now, with reference to this branch, it was proposed by the Committee that the corps of engineers should be classed in three divisions; that there should be, first, a class of engineers who should be called inspectors of machinery afloat; then, that there should be a class called chief engineers; and, lastly, that there should be another class called assistant engineers. The two latter classes were to be subdivided, severally, into three classes. It was proposed that the inspectors of machinery afloat should rank with, but after, masters of the fleet; that the chief engineers should rank with, but after, masters; and that the assistant engineers should rank with, but after, second masters. The inspectors of machinery afloat would receive 25l. per month; the chief engineers, first-class, 20l. per month; second-class, 16l. per month; third-class, 14l. per month; and the assistant engineers, first-class, 12l. per month; second-class, 9l. 10s. per month; third-class, 8l. per month. It was further proposed that the examination of candidates for entry or promotion should be most rigid; and that the assistant engineers should be entered on probation, as "acting" for the first year; also, that as opportunities offered, they should be encouraged to go into the factories to acquire practical skill in the use of tools, &c. It was also recommended that a chief engineer should always attend the construction of engines ordered of private manufacturers, after the payment of the first instalment, in order that he might supervise the work, and acquire a thorough insight into their mode of construction, he also having charge of them when fitted. The chief engineers were to be allowed the privilege of studying at the Royal Naval College. These arrangements, he conceived, would be found most advantageous in practice; for he could say, with reference to his own short experience at the Admiralty, that, since he had been there, half the accidents that had occurred in steam-ships had arisen from the incompetency of the engineers. With regard to the office of inspector of machinery afloat, it was considered desirable that an officer of very superior attainments should be borne in the flag-ships, for the purpose of inspecting and reporting on all matters 574 connected with machinery. It often happened under the present system that vessels were detained or withdrawn from service for trifling defects, or returned from foreign stations before it was absolutely necessary that they should do so. The additional expense of this proposed scale of pay for the engineers would be ultimately from 7,000l. to 8,000l. a year, exclusive of the inspectors' pay. The sum required for the present year would not be more than 4,000l., which he conceived could not be regarded as being too much, when it was remembered that the value of the machinery under the immediate charge of these engineers was at the present moment estimated at 1,400,000l. The additional expense of the whole proposed scale of pay, would not amount to above one-half per cent on this sum, or about 3½ per cent on the average annual cost of maintaining this machinery in efficient working condition. It was proposed to take a vote of 500 men for the marines, for twelve months, and 1,000 men, for six months only. It was also proposed to take (under No. 8) 20,000l. for the organization of corps of artificers for the defence of the dockyards; and if he might judge from the spirit that had been shown in entering into them, these corps might be expected to prove very useful hereafter for defence. The number of men who had already enrolled themselves in the different dock and victualling establishments, were, at Deptford, 900; at Sheerness, 866; at Chatham, 968; at Portsmouth, 1,664; at Plymouth, 1,639; and at Pembroke, 600. These, with 80 at the Royal William-yard, and 80 at the Royal Clarence-yard, made a total of 6,797 men. A Committee had also been appointed, of which his gallant Friend (Captain Berkeley) was chairman, to consider as to the best means of preventing desertion, by improving in each ship the pay and condition of a certain number of the petty officers and seamen—and he regretted from his heart that it was not possible to carry out its recommendations. He thought such a system would be most essential to the discipline of the service. He would not there enter into the vexata questio of punishment: he thought, however, that a preventive system must be admitted to be best. With regard to the marines, it was proposed to bring in a Bill to limit the period of their enlistment, similar to the provision for the same purpose which was to be made with regard to the 575 Army. But, while it was intended to give to the marines the full benefit of that principle, there would necessarily be some difference in the manner of effecting the object; because there was in the condition of the marine such a mixture of service ashore, with service afloat. What they desired, was to establish, with respect to the term of enlistment, a substantial equality between the two branches of the service; that is to say, to put the marines, in all respects, on a footing of equality with the army, without absolutely assimilating the term of service. For one moment he would touch on the question of punishment, as he wished to inform the gallant Captain opposite (Captain Harris), with reference to that Admiralty order which he did not approve of, but of which officers of high standing had spoken in most favourable terms, as working very well at the present moment, that it was intended to bring in a Bill giving the Government the power of doing what they could not do now, by establishing a system of secondary punishments, similar to that which had worked so admirably in the Army. It was also proposed to introduce a Bill to legalize the apprenticeship of boys for seven years. There was another subject for which he proposed to provide under two separate votes, a new system of inspection and measurement in the several dockyards. The cost of this would be about 5,000l. The House was, perhaps, not aware that the condition of the dockyards was a subject of great magnitude. The vote for wages and salaries at home and abroad had averaged 810,664l. during the last four years, and it was a perpetually increasing vote. The vote for 1843–4 was 779,386l.; the vote for the year 1846–7 was 951,886l.; and when the House considered that the vote for stores (including steam machinery) for the last year was 1,694,152l.. and the charge for buildings and new works, 526,810l., so that altogether the dockyards involved an expense of about 3,172,848l., they would at once see that the subject was well worthy of the consideration of Parliament. Now, so far from thinking that any diminution of this vote was probable, he could only see that a further extension of it was inevitable, as the steam factories at Portsmouth, Theyham, and Malta, came into operation. Every Government had recognized the inconvenience and danger in the event of war from leaving all the repairs of our steamers to be made at one factory, and that the 576 least accessible of all our factories—Woolwich. The French had steam factories at Cherbourg, Brest, L'Orient, Indret, Rochfort and Toulon, at each of which the largest steam vessels could be docked and refitted. We had one only—Woolwich. The conviction of this danger pressing upon the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite, had led to the commencement of those magnificent works to which he had alluded, and which he hoped would soon be completed, at Portsmouth, Theyham, and Malta. But the greater the extension, present and prospective, of the dockyards and their concomitants, the greater was the necessity that vigilance and economy should be exercised in their management; and economy and vigilance could only be attained in a Government establishment by making the people employed there feel, as far as possible, that their private interests were identified with the interests of the public. In dealing with masses of men, they must have broad and intelligible principles to appeal to. Men must be made to feel that promotion was open to all—that merit would meet with fair play—that the conduct of every one would be known and appreciated by his superiors—that if he ran the risk of offending the feelings of his brother workmen, there was some higher authority to which he could appeal, and that his conduct was sure to meet with its proper recompense. He did not hesitate to say that there was no feeling of this kind at present in the dockyards. Promotion there had hitherto been a lottery. It was a thing canvassed for, not earned. Whenever a vacancy occurred, lords, and ladies, and mayors, and Members of Parliament beset the Admiralty with applications to fill it; and the last they looked for was the opinion of the officers of the yard, who ought to be the first consulted. What wonder that the men should think and say that a 10l. house was better than any testimonial that their superiors could give them. The printed regulations, indeed, were excellent, so far as paper went. They were full of minute and efficient checks, but they were in reality a dead letter. The practice of the Admiralty had not been such as to put life and vitality into the system, or to inspire the men with a belief that they were impartially dealt with, and that meritorious exertion was certain to be rewarded. He believed that all Boards of Admiralty had been equally culpable. If he wanted any proof of this, it would be found in the fact that no Secretary of the 577 Admiralty had dared to leave behind him a record of any correspondence on the subject of promotion, or of the principles upon which they were based. Occasionally, no doubt, they hit upon a good man in the course of their appointments; but still the system was a mere lottery. Now he maintained that this system was a completely demoralising system. There were 12,000 artificers, all belonging or hoping to belong to these establishments, whose every hope was concentrated in the dockyard, and who had no view or prospect beyond it. The yard was their world. They expected to rise gradually from shipwright to leading man, from leading man to inspector, from inspector to master shipwright's assistant, and from that to a master shipwright himself, with a house, and a salary of 650l. a year. This was a noble field for those men, provided they could make sure that promotion would be administered upon a fair and intelligible principle. But at present there was no such principle—all was a matter of accident or favour. There was no previous report, no examination, no rise from one grade to another—no hope that good conduct would be known or rewarded. There had been a growing conviction in every Board of Admiralty that there was an apathy and inertness in the dockyards which no severity could check, and which they did not know how to get rid of. His noble Friend at the head of the department had felt very acutely on the subject from the first month he had taken office; and he must say so had he himself, because he had opportunities of knowing more of the working of the system than the First Lord of the Admiralty could know. Indeed, it was the belief of the whole of the board, that the root of the evil lay in the dispensation of the patronage which the Admiralty had at its disposal. He hoped therefore that the House would give them the means, at a very moderate expense of working out a better system, as they believed—a system of promotion among the men upon plain and equitable principles, and a system of care and vigilance, and economy in the superintendence, which he believed the public interest imperatively required. He begged the House to consider what was in the power of the petty officers in the dockyards. Every inspector — and there were 108 of them — was responsible for 10,000l. worth of stores and other materials which passed through his hands. It 578 was in their power, therefore, either to effect important savings, or to tolerate boundless waste; and he believed if the House treated them with liberality and fairness, these officers would repay them a hundredfold by the savings they would effect in the important article of stores in the dockyards. The system which they proposed to introduce was this: they proposed to continue the present plan of taking in a certain number of apprentices annually, and allowing those whose conduct had been satisfactory to fill the first vacancies upon the establishment, reserving the rest for other candidates. They proposed to introduce an educational test in respect to all apprentices, as a preparation for the advantages provided, in the dockyard schools for the more intelligent of the boys admitted to them. The present schools had worked very well; but it appeared from the recent visit of Professor Moseley that they were susceptible of considerable improvement, and it was intended to improve them accordingly. They meant to require a school certificate of the good conduct of the boys before they were admitted into the yards. All promising boys who should show a talent for drawing in the mould-loft would be fixed there ultimately as draughtsmen, with the condition that out of each three vacant inspectorships one should be given in future to the head draughtsman, provided his testimonials were satisfactory, and that he had worked one year at his tools at the ship's side. This would insure a regular course of promotion in the mould-loft, and produce a succession of well-instructed inspectors. But let men enter the yard as they might, it was the intention of the board that once there the work of promotion must be left to themselves alone. As a first step, they meant to introduce a system of weekly and monthly returns, making each leading man report to his inspector on the conduct of the men composing his gang—which would consist of twelve men with a proportionate number of apprentices; the inspector would report to the foreman, and the foreman would in like manner transmit the inspector's report to the master shipwright—with his own remarks and those of the foreman attached to it; and those reports would be transmitted quarterly to the Board of Admiralty, who would require the production of the whole returns whenever a man's name was submitted for promotion. Whenever a vacancy occurred, the master shipwright, with his assistant, would lay before 579 the superintendent the three names which they recommended for promotion. The superintendent would direct the candidates to be publicly examined in those matters which were essential to the proper performance of the duties, and having reduced the list of candidates to two by omitting the one whom he should think least qualified, one of the two names thus sent up would be appointed by board order to fill the vacancy. They proposed to raise the salaries of all the inspectors, which were now only 100l., to 125l. per annum; and on the 1st of April next a first class of inspectors would be formed with a salary of 150l., which was to be composed of one-fourth of the inspectors in each yard, selected after a year's probation of their qualifications as officers. There were various other regulations of a similar kind; but he would not detain the House with detailing them. He would only say that all the new regulations had been submitted to the dockyard authorities, and that he had received from every one of them the assurance that they believed they would work well. He hoped, then, the House would allow them to try the experiment, for which they asked only 5,000l. He would now proceed to allude to a few of the principal items in the estimates. Under Vote No. 1, which provided for wages of seamen and marines, there was an increase of 31,100l., which included the vote for 1,500 marines, and for the reorganization of the steam engineers. On Vote No. 2, for victuals to seamen and marines, there was a reduction of 4,220l. He might naturally be asked by hon. Gentlemen opposite how this happened in a year of universal high prices, and upon what basis they had made this calculation? The fact was, that they had taken the highest prices during the present year as their basis, and hoping that, after the next harvest, the prices would fall to their natural level, they had ventured to dispense with the five per cent for contingencies, which amounted to 30,000l. Under No. 3 would be found an increase of 7,340l. That sum covered a new system of management in the steam and packet departments, which was rendered necessary by the great increase of our steam navy. The vote required for the steam and packet department in the present estimates exhibited an increase of 1,640l. upon the estimates of last year. Another cause of the increase was the augmentation of the salaries of clerks in the Admiralty Office according to the time of 580 service, and of the salary of the director of the works, in pursuance of an engagement entered into by the late Board of Admiralty. When it was recollected that this gentleman had the entire superintendence of the works connected with the steam navy, which last year involved an expenditure of 559,600l., it could not be thought that the salary which he received was larger than was due to a person holding an office of such great trust and responsibility. Having mentioned the most important items of increase in this vote, he felt it to be unnecessary to trouble the Committee with any detail respecting the minor items. Passing over the fourth and fifth Votes, he came to the sixth, on which there was an increase of 7,291l., as compared with the estimate of last year. This increase was caused almost entirely by changes introduced—wisely and necessarily—by the predecessors of the present Board of Admiralty. The changes which he referred to, consisted in the appointment of engineers to all the naval yards. Mr. Murray, the engineer at Portsmouth, with a salary of 650l.; Mr. Laurie, at Chatham, 500l.; Mr. Miller, Devonport, 400l.; Mr. Rigby, Woolwich, 200l.; and Mr. Chatfield, just named, acting assistant to the master shipwright there—were all included under this vote; as was Mr. Grant, the storekeeper at the Royal Clarence-yard, who had surrendered to the public a valuable patent for fuel. It was deemed unadvisable that a public servant should have the benefit of his own patent in the supply of a public department, and therefore he would receive 300l. a year additional salary as an indemnification for surrendering his interest in the patent, until the Government had an opportunity of promoting him to a higher office. A better bargain than that had seldom been made for the public. Part of the increase on this vote, however, to the extent of 2,785l., was occasioned by the adoption of the new system of inspection and measurement in the dockyards, from which much advantage was anticipated. Vote 7 called for no observation, and therefore he would proceed to Vote 8, in which there was an increase of 58,877l. One of the items of increase was 2,214l., for the new system of inspection and measurement to which he had already alluded; another was 20,000l. for training and exercising the dockyard artificers. A considerable increase had also taken place in the vote required for the steam factory at Woolwich, where it had been found absolutely 581 necessary to have a Government establishment for the repair of steam-vessels, instead of having the work done in private yards. The result of this alteration would be a considerable saving to the public: 735 workmen were now employed in the factory at Woolwich, and last year nearly the whole of the steam repairs—with the exception of those required by the Liverpool packets—were executed at Woolwich. The horse-power in commission last year amounted to 25,424. The hon. Gentleman then read the following account of the works and repairs performed at the factory at Woolwich, during the years 1844, 1845, and 1846, showing the number of steam-vessels repaired, &c., and fitted with new boilers, and their aggregate horse-power; the expenditure on repairs of steam-vessels; and the total estimated value of the works performed at the establishment:—
The average price of marine steam engines was 50l. per horse-power, and the cost of repair was 8l. per year in private factories, and 6l. at Woolwich. Now, the total horse-power for the financial year 1847–8 was estimated at 41,025, and the cost of maintaining that in efficient working order would be 328,000l. in private establishments, and only 246,000l. at the Woolwich
Financial Year. Steam-vessels. Total value of the works and repairs performed at the factory during the year. Wages expended at the factory. Repaired or had new fittings Received new boilers. Total cost for steam-vessels. No. of Vessels. Aggregate horse-power. £ £ £ 1844–5 27 7 1,064 26,805 49,316 29,680 1845–6 36 6 836 36,432 58,330 34,998 1846–7, 9 months 29 8 1,262 25,324 76,660 40,700* Boilers ready for fixing. — 8 1,330 — — 735 workmen. Boilers in course of completion. — 15 3,260 — — —* Present rate of expenditure, £46,000.582 wich factory, making a saving of 25 per cent, or 82,000l. a year. It was only necessary to add, that the workmen at the factory would only be employed in making machinery when not engaged in repairs. Vote 9 called for no particular remark, though it exhibited a decrease of 1,450l. Under Vote 10 there was a general decrease of 79,928l., although an increase had taken place in the expenditure on account of stores to the amount of 58,373l. The decrease fell almost entirely under the heads of "Purchase and repair of steam machinery," and "Building iron steamers." The decrease under the former head was 100,000l., and under the latter 41,825l. The sum required in the present vote for building iron steamers was 78,177l., and this was entirely absorbed by the liabilities of the preceding year. It was not desirable to enter into any discussion at that moment with respect to the question which the hon. and gallant Admiral opposite had raised that night, relative to the building of large iron steamers. He would merely express a hope that the hon. and gallant Member's experiment might ultimately prove successful. In Vote 11 there was an increase of 32,790l. for new works. It might be necessary to explain that it had for many years been the practice to take large sums for new works under Votes 8, 9, and 10, which were strictly votes for wages and stores. This practice occasioned some confusion, and therefore it had been determined that henceforth all new works should be charged under Vote 11. Perhaps he might be pardoned for addressing a few words to the Committee on the subject of these works on which so much had been expended. The first object which the Admiralty had in view was to reduce the number of works by completing those now in hand as soon as possible. The sum required for new works at Portsmouth was therefore raised to 167,538l. It was satisfactory to know that the steam-basin was nearly complete, and the works were carried on with so much activity, that it was believed they would be completed, if not by the end of the next financial year, certainly by May or June following. The sum of 10,000l. was required to complete the marine barracks at Woolwich. Those works furnished a striking example of the loss which resulted from being dilatory in the execution of public works. If the marine barracks at Woolwich had been completed two years since, the sum of 583 15,000l., which must now be expended on the enhanced price of labour and materials, would have been saved to the country. The sum required for the works at Plymouth was 170,230l.; and he was sorry to say that three years must elapse before they could be completed, in spite of the extraordinary efforts which were made by the contractor, Mr. Baker, who displayed the utmost vigour and enterprise in all his proceedings; 30,000l. out of the gross sum of 170,230l. for Plymouth would be expended in enlarging the basin and constructing entrances to the docks; 10,000l. were required for an establishment at Hawlbowline for repairing steamers and steam machinery. It was calculated that the work there would be completed in three years. A sum was also taken in the Vote for the works at Malta. The docks there were almost ready for the reception of the largest vessels. We had long wanted a good naval station in the Mediterranean, and he was happy to say that the want would soon be supplied. He had now completed his task. It would be apparent that the expenditure demanded for the naval service was large, but it was inevitable; in fact, the country was now called upon to pay for the niggardliness of former years. Until the works now in hand were completed, he could give little hope of any reduction in the estimates. He had gone through the various items carefully, and all that he could venture to assure the House was, that the present Board of Admiralty were determined to exercise as strict an economy as they could, in every branch of the service, consistently with the maintenance of the national honour. The hon. Gentleman concluded with moving the first Vote.
§ On its being moved that 185,286l., for the arrears over and above the grants of last year be granted to Her Majesty,
§ ADMIRAL BOWLES
approved of the statement of the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman had alluded to the exercise of Government influence in the boroughs where there were dockyards and naval establishments; and it was his desire to see a Bill brought in for placing the persons employed in dockyards on the same footing as those in the coast guard, who were disfranchised. He would, at the same time impress on the Government the necessity of forming a squadron of exercise. In the last thirty years they had only had five; the race of officers who had seen war was nearly extinct, and it was absolutely necessary 584 to let those who might hereafter have to assert the honour of the nation in war, have the opportunity of gaining experience in their profession. They ought next year to have a squadron at least as strong as that of 1845 and 1846. Much injury had been done to the service by the system of dispersing their naval force, in single ships, at different ports and stations, where they remained sometimes for two or even three years without moving. He knew consuls were often very anxious to have an English ship in their ports, and sometimes they might overrate a danger in order to get one sent. The length of time the ships often remained at one place was an evil. In one case a frigate had been eighteen months at Beyrout; in another, a ship of war remained in the Tagus for three years. He would subject our ships to a rotation that would, in turn, give every ship an opportunity of evolution and instruction.
§ CAPTAIN PECHELL
said, if he congratulated the hon. Secretary (Mr. Ward) on the extensive improvements he had proposed, which were in continuance of those great reforms which had been effected by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Dorchester, whilst he presided over our naval affairs, how must he (Captain Pechell) value the sentiments of the gallant Admiral who had just sat down (Admiral Bowles), in freely acknowledging the political jobbing which was suffered to exist in the naval yards during the time he was so efficient a member of the late Administration? The hon. Secretary had given many reasons for the increase of the estimates; but they were not required by any one who had access to those public sources of information. The hon. Secretary, in the detail of the number of ships employed, had omitted all mention of the cruisers employed on the coast of Africa. Three years was too long a period to be engaged on that station, so fatal to the crews of our vessels, who in addition to the sufferings of the climate and the service, were through the gross abuses in the several Vice Admiralty Courts, deprived of large portions of the rewards which Parliament had granted for their encouragement. He had heard nothing from the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ward) about the paymasters and pursers and masters of the Navy; but he trusted that before the next estimates were brought forward, the recommendations of the Naval Commission with respect to that first-mentioned class of officers would be acted upon. It was not calling on the public for one sixpence, 585 as there was a balance of several thousand pounds in the Exchequer applicable to that purpose, from the fund accruing from the sea pay emoluments which they had voluntarily resigned for increase of retirement and half pay; and therefore, he could not understand why the number of officers in the retired list was not kept up. The masters, too, complained of the inferior position they held in Her Majesty's service. Their memorial was before the House; and though they had also memorialised the Board of Admiralty, it was of no use to memoralise unless an agitation at the same time was got up in that House. He was quite willing at the proper period to prove his casein favour of the masters and pursers; and he hoped, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government would not lose sight of the subject. With regard to the manning of the Navy, he thought the plan in respect to the steamers would give satisfaction, and that ships on being paid off should not be dismantled in the usual manner, a proceeding which had caused so much disgust in the Navy. He was, however, sorry to say, that in manning the Navy, Government had departed from a wholesome rule with respect to boys. The old regulations as to the requirements of clothing and good character were very good. The indiscriminate enlistment of boys had done mischief, and had lowered the character of that particular branch of the service. He also wished to ask the right hon. Secretary what was the cause of the delay in putting into the water the vessels built by that eminent shipwright, Mr. White? He referred to the Termagant, a vessel which was lying on the slips, while the Sidon—having, perhaps, better interest—was taking a cruise round the Isle of Wight. The Termagant had been laid down at a much earlier period. It was satisfactory to him to observe that the present board had kept up competition. If Sir William Seppings had had his way, probably he would have excluded Sir W. Symonds; and Sir W. Symonds would have probably excluded that talented builder, Mr. White. He had hoped that some improvements would have been proposed in the mode of holding courts-martial, by revising the entire system. He had reason to think that the proceedings which had taken place at Bermuda would not again occur. In the case of the Daphne, an officer was brought to trial when it was considered the whole affair had been passed over. All parties were reconciled, the officer was doing his 586 duty, dining with his prosecutor, and everything going on fairly; yet a twelvemonth afterwards he was brought to trial, with only two days' notice. There was also the circumstance of a vessel lost recently; and such was the peculiar law, that the officer in command was obliged to give evidence against himself. As we had got a Reform Administration, he thought we must now have an alteration in the mode of taking courts-martial. If no change was to take place, why was the gallant Admiral opposite displaced? Why was there any change at all when a new Administration came in, unless it was for the purpose of revising what the previous board had done, and to set right that which was wrong? He had been much pleased with the proceedings of the Board of Admiralty in their departments; and this circumstance would induce him to pass over many sins which otherwise he should have taken notice of. He would now advert to those officers and men indirectly connected with the Navy; he meant those employed in the service of the coast guard in Ireland, who, owing to the supposed difference in the price of provisions, were paid a less amount than those employed in England; they were now suffering great hardships in consequence, and great distress existed among them. They had made application to the Customs; and as it was the Admiralty who named and recommended the men for the service of the coast guard, it was the duty of the Admiralty to see these men were not starving on pay inferior to that of the same class in this country. The peculiar situation of matters in Ireland caused these parties great inconvenience and suffering. The Committee on Shipwrecks recommended promotion to those gallant men who had saved life and property to a great extent; but this recommendation had not been attended to. Had these men shot a number of smugglers, they would have obtained promotion; but if they saved the lives of shiploads of persons, they would obtain nothing but the thanks of those who considered protection to the revenue as paramount to protection of life and property. He pressed on the Secretary of the Admiralty the fact that the magistrates of Kent and Sussex had borne testimony to the gallantry of these men, who had saved many lives during the late gales; and it was but just and right that their services should not be overlooked.
§ DR. BOWRING
could not help looking at the estimates in connexion with the admirable 587 report laid on the Table last year; but though he approved of them, one principle had been overlooked, which he had always insisted upon, namely, that of keeping the receipts and expenditure entirely separate. In the present estimates, though drawn up with great ability, that principle had been confounded. In the accounts there were many great improvements. The grants used to be generally prospective; but now the estimates represented facts; and he hoped the Lords of the Treasury would take care that the same system was adopted in every other department. He, however, contended that this principle ought to be kept in mind, that accounts should be kept clear and distinct. He believed it was a matter of primary and paramount necessity; and it was from the want of this principle that enormous amounts appeared, of which no distinct account could be taken. He acknowledged that the present estimates were lucid, and depended more on positive data than anticipation; but he did hope the observations and suggestions he had made would not be overlooked.
said, as there could be no reduction in the estimates, it was quite hopeless to expect that any reduction in the number of men could be made. With respect to the reserves, he should wish to have additional attention paid to that subject. There was also another important point to be looked to — the coaling of steamers. It was necessary to have some new regulations respecting this branch of the service. He mentioned these points because he considered it was necessary that the attention of the Admiralty should be called to them, with a view to alter that which was at present defective. With reference to the dockyards, he begged to say, as soon as he had a seat at the Board of Admiralty, his attention had been attracted to the abuses to which the hon. Member had referred.
stated, with regard to the increase of men above the number voted, that this had arisen chiefly from what had taken place in China, New Zealand, and the Plata. In many instances relief ships were sent out there, which had been retained on the stations; and the result was, that many ships were now lying at home manned by marines. With respect to the coaling of steamers, measures were being taken to carry out a plan under the superintendence of Lord George Hay, by which steamers would be coaled 588 in harbour from old hulks in a much more expeditious manner than heretofore.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
was extremely unwilling to retard the progress of the estimates. He was greatly indebted to the hon. and gallant Officer the Member for Brighton (Captain Pechell) for recollecting the share which, in former times, he had borne in the naval administration. He must confess that the great object he had then in view was to diminish, as far as possible, the naval estimates; and, concurrently with that, to diminish, as little as passible, the efficiency of the service. That was the chief aim of his administration; and that administration had, fortunately, been under the control of a First Lord well versed in naval affairs, and of a noble and lamented friend, who had constantly enforced on him the strict necessity of rigid economy. He could say, in perfect truth, he had watched with regret the progressive increase in the naval estimates; and he had heard with alarm the statement that evening of the Secretary to the Admiralty, that, notwithstanding this progressive increase, he (Mr. Ward) was of opinion the increase of the present year, and the estimate as it now stood, were not so large as, with regard to the interests of the country, he thought, in other circumstances, it should be. He should not have risen to express this regret if it had not been for one topic touched upon by the Secretary to the Admiralty. It was one of extreme delicacy—so delicate, that, if he were not free from official restraint, he should not in that House venture to allude to it. He referred to that topic which had been brought prominently under their notice, namely, the pay of the men in the naval service. The hon. Gentleman had laid down a principle on that point which appeared to him (Sir J. Graham) to be unsound. If he had understood the hon. Gentleman rightly, he expressed an opinion that it was absolutely necessary, if not to raise the pay in the Queen's service, at least to level it with the pay in the merchant service. Now, that was a doctrine from which he (Sir J. Graham) must express his dissent. If once the Queen's service was made to compete with regard to wages with the merchant service, every increase on official authority in the Queen's 589 service would be met, of necessity, by a corresponding increase in the merchant service. If they once entered on a competition of that kind, he saw no end to the expenses which would be entailed. It was a most delicate matter to discuss; but he thought no hope should be held out to persons now serving in the Royal Navy that any increase of pay was to be, or ought to be, expected, on any such principle. If any great increase of pay were required, he did not consider that the present financial difficulties should be held as a bar to such increase. He dissented from the justice of denying or postponing an increase of pay if it was due, and they were called upon to grant it, because of a financial difficulty. He warned the House, that if they entered on the question of pay to seamen, they must also consider the pay of the marines, the army, and of those engaged in the military affairs of this country. If they commenced an increase of pay to the Navy, with reference to the competition of the merchant service, upon the same principle they must, of necessity, increase the pay of all military officers; they must enter into a circle of boundless expenditure on the one hand, and of boundless expectation on the other, which he, free from official restraint, did most strongly deprecate. He might have misunderstood the hon. Gentleman; and it was a question of such immense importance, that, without the direct sanction of the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer—of the Government acting on its responsibility—it could not be properly admitted for discussion. He was sure that the hon. Gentleman would be glad of the opportunity which was given of offering some explanation of his words. A more dangerous impression than that which had been produced by what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman could not go forth.
§ MR. WARD
believed the right hon. Baronet seldom misapprehended anything which passed, or was said, in that House; but he had now most certainly misunderstood the purport of his remarks. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) had enlarged upon the question of pay in the Queen's service, and some reply was demanded. He (Mr. Ward) had not forgotten the difference between the two services; he was aware of the delicacy of the subject, and cognizant of the necessity of not touching upon it without having obtained the general assent of the Ministers of the Crown. The only observation he 590 had made had reference to the proposition of the Committee, of which his hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Berkeley) had been the head, that, to prevent desertion, they should increase the pay in the Navy, not generally, but to petty officers and to seamen, to be selected from the general body, after long service. It had been hoped, that by adopting such a plan, a better moral feeling, and a higher tone of self-respect, would be created among the seamen, and that a progressive increase in pay would have the effect of encouraging and attaching to the service. He had mentioned only the petty officers as those who would be effected by such a change. [Sir J. GRAHAM: Petty officers and seamen.] He meant seamen after long service. He was obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the opportunity of explanation.
§ SIR C. NAPIER
was very sorry indeed to hear that explanation. He had always been of opinion that the seamen in the British Navy were badly paid; and even if, by increasing the pay in the Navy, they compelled the merchant service to increase their pay, they would do a great deal of good, and bring back those 50,000 seamen who now navigated the American merchant service. The Army was a very different service from the Navy; and it did not follow, that because they increased the pay in the one, they must increase it in the other. The labourer should be paid according to his hire; and, if they wanted to keep their seamen in this country, they could only do so by paying them adequately.
§ MR. S. HERBERT
was glad that an explanation had been given by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Ward) of the statement made by him in his speech; for nothing could be more dangerous than to announce measures which had the effect of exciting hopes that were not likely to be realized by the men employed in the service. He did not believe, however, that the wages in the Royal Navy were lower than those in the merchant service; for if they considered the pensions received after service, the cheap price at which slops were sold, and various other things which were in their favour, it would be found that, after a certain period, the seamen in the Queen's ships received as much as any in the merchant service. He thought it was not a prudent thing to diminish now, for the first time, the amount taken for the victualling of the Navy. It had been usual to take a margin of 5 per cent on 591 the victualling of the Navy; and he thought it a right course to follow, for the vote, however large, was always sure to be exceeded. He thought they could not have selected a year more unfortunate for a diminution, as there was a certainty of high provisions; and he was apprehensive that in such circumstances the Admiralty might be led into financial difficulties. As regarded the subject of recommendations, he thought care should be taken not to fix a low standard of responsibility. His experience had led him to look with great doubt on dockyard recommendations, as he had reason to believe they were often given from political considerations.
§ MR. M. GORE
was much gratified at the statement of the hon. Secretary for the Admiralty, and hoped that whatever party was in power they would never forget what was essential to the interest of the Navy and the defences of the country.
§ MR. F. BARING
trusted that the time would never come when any Government would neglect the efficiency of the Navy, or any House of Commons would refuse the money necessary to maintain that efficiency. At the same time, he looked with anxiety at the manner in which the expenditure for the naval, as well as every other public service, was gradually increasing; and if the House had not shown itself extremely willing, not merely to sanction the estimates, but to press on the Government increased expenditure in every quarter, there would probably not have been such large sums to vote, and the real efficiency of the services might not have been less. The tone in which his hon. Friend (Mr. Ward) had spoken, had not given him much confidence on this point, for his hon. Friend had spoken of niggardly economy—words which were common enough when he (Mr. Baring) first came into Parliament. There was one point with respect to which, in particular, the House of Commons might properly inquire, viz., whether that which had been granted liberally, had been spent honestly. He admitted that the Government acted judiciously in attending to the progress of steam power in the naval service; but an impression was abroad that the large sums voted by the House had not been spent properly; and he believed that some inquiry on the point might be better carried on by Government authority than any other. He thanked his hon. Friend for his endeavour to correct the system prevailing in the dockyards, and he should rejoice to find his hon. Friend 592 able to carry out his plan in respect to the promotion of merit in the public service; but at the same time he must join in the caution given by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert), and express a hope that his hon. Friend might be able to check any course of jobbing. The present vote was for former arrears, the excess of expenditure over the estimate being 185,000l. He thought that some explanation should be given of this vote, and that Parliament ought not to be lax in attending to these estimates, because it might be found that not only was there an excess of expenditure over the votes in the present year, but also in the last, and probably for two years; and the excess upon every vote, taking the effective service, and throwing aside the non-effective service, and the service for the different departments, would be found to be not 185,000l., but 230,000l. This might happen from necessity, but it required explanation, and was not to be passed over as a matter of course; and if done for two years, created a most inconvenient and unconstitutional precedent.
§ MR. GOULBURN
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had observed naturally enough on the excess of expenditure, amounting to 185,000l. That excess arose from the report of a commission appointed by the Government to inquire into the defences of the harbours of this country, and the adoption of measures at the close of the Session of Parliament, for expediting certain defences which, under the circumstances of the time, were thought expedient. The excess appeared to be on all the heads of the different estimates; but that was the natural consequence of such works, for they comprised iron steamers and a considerable addition to the consumption of timber, copper, &c. It was very difficult to explain to the Committee, in all particulars, the grounds of the necessity for this outlay; but it was founded on the report of officers most competent to form a judgment on the subject.
LORD J. RUSSELL
thought that the explanation given of the grounds of the increased expenditure ought to be satisfactory. In reference to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and his right hon. Friend behind him, as to the expenditure for the Navy, he might say, that it was his opinion, which he had stated to Lord Auckland and the heads of the different departments, that whenever expenditure was voted by the House of Commons, the greatest pains should be displayed 593 in endeavouring to have the money so voted, expended so as to ensure the greatest possible efficiency in the service. He did not think that a larger sum was appropriated to these services than ought to be voted for them; but, from the various notions which might be entertained by different individuals, as to the way in which those services should be conducted, there was undoubtedly sometimes a waste of money when the service might be more economically performed. He did not think, however, with regard to the amount of the estimates, either for the past year or for the present, that the House of Commons could expect that there should be any great saving with reference to the Navy. He entertained a strong opinion that the Executive Government was entitled to require that a sufficient sum should be voted for this branch of the public service, to ensure the safety of the country if any exigency should arise. Considering the great improvements which had of late been effected in naval science, and the introduction of steam power, he did not think that, because they had a powerful Navy in former years, and had obtained great and celebrated victories, they onght to deem that they were invincible, and to rest satisfied that they were at all times safe. As the head of the Executive Government, he (Lord J. Russell) felt that, whatever disposition there might be to economize, and however the Government might be subjected to the imputation of wasteful expenditure, it was their duty to secure the safety of this country, remembering that the dearest of all their interests depended upon that safety. For his own part, he (Lord J. Russell) should not be disposed to shrink from making any demand upon the public purse which he thought fair and reasonable for this purpose. An hon. Friend of his had referred to the importance of preventing that jobbing in the dockyards which had been continued by successive Governments, and which, by the right of voting given under the Reform Act, had not been checked, but had rather been increased. He (Lord J. Russell) was glad to state that the Admiralty had measures in contemplation to put a stop to these abuses. Those plans would be tried, and if they were not effectual it would be necessary to come to that House for still more extreme measures. He thought that in every point of view, this was an important subject; it was important, not only on the ground of preventing political 594 corruption, but really as a matter of public economy. An officer who left this country last year, and who had been much engaged in the dockyard service, represented that the labour performed by the dockyard men, where they possessed a right of voting, was very inefficient as compared with the labour performed for private individuals by persons who had no such privilege. He believed there was a great loss of public money in consequence of the political influence possessed by parties in these situations, and that it was most desirable, in every point of view, that the Government should attempt by all the means in their power to check the present system. He was far from saying that he thought the check proposed by his hon. Friend would be successful; but any suggestion which might be made on the subject by hon. Gentlemen opposite would receive prompt attention from his Colleagues and himself.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
believed he could show, by a return of the appointments made during the time his right hon. Friend behind him held office, that the greater number of those appointments were not in favour of persons who entertained the particular opinions which were held by himself and his hon. Friends. This, however, would not prove the nonexistence of the evil to which the noble Lord had referred. What he (Mr. S. Herbert) complained of was this—that the Secretary to the Admiralty, or whoever might discharge such duties, could not make appointments without attending to recommendations which, if acted upon, proved very detrimental to the public service. He did not wish to be understood as stating that the appointments of the Government which succeeded that of which he was a Member, must necessarily be corrupt. He must say, however, that every Secretary to the Admiralty who attempted to exercise his patronage honestly, must do so with great trouble, and with the risk of encountering great abuse.
§ Vote agreed to, as were several other votes.
§ House resumed. Committee to sit again.
§ House adjourned at half-past Twelve o'clock.