§ House in Committee of Supply; Mr. BOUVERIE in the Chair.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, that the present Estimate for the expenses of the Ordnance Department was the largest that had ever yet been laid before Parliament. Although the estimates showed such a very large increase of expenditure, there were few hon. Members in the House who would not be able to give a reason for the increase of almost every one of the items. He would first call the attention of the Committee to the Supplementary Estimates, for which a Vote had previously been taken, but no details of which had been presented to the House. The total amount of the Supplementary Estimates for last year was 1,402,961l. The first Vote was a sum of 267,000l. under the head of barrack supplies, and it included a sum of 129,518l. for barrack bedding for the hospitals at Scutari and Smyrna, and for replacing stores at Malta. There was a sum of 106,000l. for additional great coats, boots, and shoes, for the troops. Some remarks had been made with respect to the size and quality of the boots sent out to the troops. Those articles were not, however, supplied by the Ordnance, but by the clothiers of the regiments. With respect to the boots that were sent out, the precautions were taken that two smaller sizes of the boots established by the Army were left out, and in the place of them two larger sizes were selected; and although the boots might have been too small in cases where the men wore two or three pairs of stockings, still they were, in fact, larger than those usually supplied to the Army. The remainder of the Vote was a sum of 42,806l. for miscellaneous stores. The next Vote was 142,000l. for warm clothing for the convalescents, and 92,000l. for blankets, &c. Then there was a charge of 54,800l. for huts for troops in the Crimea, 19,041l. for stable huts for the Crimea, and 12,969l. for hospital huts for 2,000 patients. And 112 also a sum of 12,930l. for huts for 3,000 men at Heligoland. The next Vote was a sum of 382,500l. for warm and waterproof clothing and waterproof articles for the troops. In justice to the gentlemen who undertook the supplies of those articles, and who, in his opinion, carried out the directions given them by the Government with great celerity, he stated that the whole of the supplies which were lost in the Prince were replaced within three days of the time when the news first arrived of the loss of that vessel. The Committee would doubtless be surprised, but he thought at the same time gratified, to hear the enormous extent of the shipments of these articles. In the month of November there were shipped from the Tower 130 tons of warm clothing, and by Messrs. Hayter and Powell 344 tons; in December, 752 tons from the Tower, and 234 tons by Messrs. Hayter and Powell; in January, 309 tons from the Tower, and 180 tons by Messrs. Hayter and Powell. He would next ask the Committee to consider whether this clothing was, under the circumstances, supplied economically. It was supplied in great haste, under very urgent circumstances, and of course anybody who had to do with the supply of it felt that the real object they had to consider was not price, but to get the thing they wanted as rapidly and expeditiously as they could. He had caused an accurate calculation to be made of the amount. The price paid exceeded the price at which they might reasonably expect to obtain the article, if they were not in the hurry he had described. The calculation had been made by independent authorities; one of whom was connected with the Ordnance Office, and the other was not connected with that department. The instruction given to the gentlemen connected with the Ordnance Office was to give the benefit of any doubt he entertained against the department, and his calculation was that the extra amount paid was about 10 per cent more than should have been paid if the articles were got in the ordinary course of business. From the other calculation it appeared that the extra amount paid was 7½ per cent more than the ordinary price. The essence of the contract made with the contractor for the clothing was time. and in every instance the object was to get the article as rapidly as possible. The amount of fines imposed for the non-fulfilment of contracts amounted to about 4½ per cent; and, 113 balancing the two figures he had mentioned, he thought the amount the country had paid for warm clothing, over and above a reasonable sum, was somewhere about 4½ per cent. There were of course some articles dearer than others. Sonic were got at a very reasonable price, and there were other articles for which they were charged a great deal too much. But, on the whole, the average amount paid over and above the sum that should have been paid if the articles were obtained in ordinary times, was about 4 per cent. With regard to the quality of the articles supplied, he had the advantage of obtaining the opinion of Messrs. Hayter and Powell, and the persons they employed, and they stated to him that the articles supplied were of excellent quality. He (Mr. Monsell) was firmly convinced, after a searching inquiry, that the warm clothing sent out was, generally speaking, of a most excellent quality. There was another point to which he wished to call the attention of the Committee, and that was with regard to the mode in which it was said the stores sent out to the East were packed. There was a statement in the public prints that the Robert Lowe transport ship had conveyed medical stores to Scutari, over which were placed cylinders of powder for Balaklava. That matter had been carefully investigated by a Committee appointed by the late Secretary of War, and that Committee unanimously reported that the charge was entirely unfounded, and that such an arrangement was, from the nature of things, utterly impossible; because the cylinders were of such enormous weight that they must be packed with great care in the hold of the ship, and could not be placed elsewhere. With regard to the Prince, it was stated that the shot and shell for Balaklava were placed on the top of the medical stores, but the Committee having also investigated that charge, declared it to be entirely unfounded. The neglect that had occurred in the case of the cargoes of these two vessels was not on the part of those who packed the goods, but of those who had to deliver them on their arrival at their respective destinations. The next item in the estimates was 25,000l. for erecting a shell factory for the manufacture of Lancaster shells. Hon. Gentlemen were not probably aware that the new invention was first submitted to the Government in the year 1852. Investigations and experiments with regard to it went on, but be- 114 fore the invention was quite ripe for use, the war broke out, and it was considered desirable to make use of them in the best way they could. The use of Nasmyth's hammer was necessary in the construction of the shells, and before they were sufficiently tested by experiments it was thought unwise to get a large number of these very expensive articles. The construction of the shells was very expensive, because they had to be reheated eleven times in consequence of there being only one of the Nasmyth's hammers in use. There were 1,800 shells made, and the cost of each was 6l. In the month of November last Lord Raglan transmitted to this country a Report from Colonel Lake, with regard to the operation of the gulls and shells before Sebastopol, and that Report was extremely satisfactory. It appeared that when the shells were handled and the guns were loaded by persons who had experience in the management of them, they were on the whole—if not perfect—of very great use in the field. Therefore, it was decided by the Government that a large number of these shells should be produced with as little delay as possible. He had had the advantage of a consultation on the subject with Mr. Nasmyth, who had most liberally placed his factory in Manchester at the disposal of the Government for the construction of shells; but on finding out the plant that would be required to be erected, and having a plant already at Woolwich, he came to the conclusion that the arrangement would not be an economical one to the Government, and that they should proceed with the work in their own factory. This was accordingly done, and the factory having been completed by the great exertions of Sir Charles Fox and Mr. Henderson in the course of two months, they were now producing sixty shells a day, and would very soon be producing one hundred shells a day. Those shells would now cost about 1l. 16s. 2d. a piece instead of 6l. The next Vote which he came to in the Supplementary Estimates was for a sum of 15,000l. for the erection of a gun factory at Enfield. In Vote 6 of the Estimates there was a sum of 40,000l. demanded for that factory, making the entire sum required for it 55,000l. A Committee was appointed last Session to consider a proposition made on the part of the Government for the erection of a very large factory, where it was intended to have produced by machinery, at a cheap rate, 150,000 muskets a year. That Committee, however, was unfa- 115 vourable to the project on so great a scale, and they recommended that a manufactory should be tried on a limited scale, which would serve as an experiment, to show the advantages to be derived from a more extensive application of machinery, besides serving as a check upon the price of contractors, and supplying a resource in times of emergency. After the report of the Committee was given in, three gentlemen went to America, namely Colonel Burn of the Royal Artillery, a distinguished officer; Captain Ward, who had devoted a great deal of his attention to the construction of small arms; and Mr. Anderson. It had been very generally stated by persons who were opposed to the proposed factory, that his (Mr. Monsell's) views were founded merely on theory, and that there was no experience to support them. The gentlemen sent out were authorised to expend in the purchase of machinery a sum of 10,000l.; and a little time after they had arrived in the United States they communicated with him (Mr. Monsell) on the subject of the machinery they had witnessed there. Colonel Burn wrote, stating that the more they had seen of the operation of the musket machinery in America, and the extraordinary effect it produced, the more they were convinced of the absolute necessity of a radical change in our system, and of our establishing a complete and permanent organisation to enable us to secure a continuous supply of the best article at a cheap rate. Colonel Burn also observed that, though the work of the machinery at Springfield, in Massachusetts, and at Harper's Ferry, in Virginia, differed in certain respects, according to the skill of the engineer, yet the operations were so perfect that an interchange of muskets in all their parts was made between them quarterly, and that the result was found to be the same as if they had been all produced by one engineer only. Subsequently, Colonel Burn applied for permission to spend a larger amount than the 10,000l. first specified in the purchase of machinery in America. He (Mr. Monsell) went with that letter to the Treasury, and subsequently authorised Colonel Burn to spend a further sum, and there was actually expended in the purchase of machinery in America a sum of 17,000l. When these gentlemen returned home, they brought with them a very elaborate and interesting report, stating the result of their investigations, with such ample reasons for what they stated, that it was impossible for 116 any person to resist the conclusion at which they had arrived. They stated in their report that the anticipations entertained in this country, not only as to the rapidity with which muskets could be manufactured by machinery, but as to the cost at which they could be manufactured, were more than realised, and they expressed their conviction in the strongest manner that the experiment of establishing such a manufacture in this country would be followed by great and most signal success. The next point that called for attention was the size of the factory in which the machinery should be received. The decision to which the Government ultimately came was, that it should be a factory capable of manufacturing 50,000 muskets a year. He could state, he thought, very strong reasons to induce the Committee to agree in that decision. It was found, upon very careful calculations, that if the factory was constructed for the manufacture of one-half the number, the same staff would be required to manage it, and very nearly the same quantity of machinery. For the manufacture of 50,000 muskets per year there would be required between 600 and 700 machines, and of those machines very few would be in duplicate; there should be single machines for making single parts, and, unless they constructed their factory of a size to enable them to manufacture 50,000, they would have their machinery for half a year perfectly idle. It was accordingly decided that a factory should be prepared in which 50,000 muskets could be manufactured per annum, and directions were given to the proper officers to prepare a place for that purpose. Very strong remonstrances were addressed to the Board of Ordnance certainly against the erection of a factory at Enfield, and the propriety of erecting it at Woolwich was suggested, but they thought they should adhere to the decision they had come to, and accordingly it was resolved to have the factory at Enfield. According to the first plan for the erection of a building, the estimate was about 30,000l.; but the gentlemen to whom he had referred, on returning from America, where they had an opportunity of seeing the system on which the factories there were carried on, stated their conviction of the great advantage resulting from having abundance of room in the arsenals in America, and strongly pressed that the proposed size of the factory should be enlarged. Their views were adopted, and 117 the tenders for the factory consequently amounted to about 48,000l. There would, however, be certain deductions from that amount, and he believed the actual cost for building the factory would be 43,000l. or 44,000l. With regard to the cost of the machinery, he should mention that, as he had already stated, the machinery purchased in America cost 17,000, but besides that they had purchased 9,000l. worth of machinery in this country, making the entire sum paid for machinery, 26,000l. During the months of October, November, and December, the Government had felt the deepest anxiety for the supply of small arms, and they had been compelled to have recourse to the markets of other countries to obtain an additional number of arms. Under these circumstances, the Minister of War decided that it was expedient that the factory should be proceeded with at once, and he authorised the Board of Ordnance to enter at once into contracts for its erection. Accordingly they did so, and at the present moment the factory was being constructed at Enfield for the sum he had mentioned. He believed they would be able to commence operations in it on the 1st of July; and although it would not then be in full operation, they might expect, even during the present year, to manufacture a considerable number of arms there. Passing from the subject of the Supplementary Estimate, he came next to the General Estimates for the year. In the Vote for pay allowances and contingencies there was an increase, as compared with last year, of 103,543l., but that was owing to the addition to the Ordnance corps of half a battalion of engineers and a battalion of artillery. in the Vote for the movement of troops there was an increase of 11,200l.; and in the vote for recruiting, the bounty having been raised, there was an increase of 12,094l. He need hardly point out the necessity for increasing the engineer and artillery forcela force which was now about 7,000 less in strength than it was in the year 1814. No force in any country could have distinguished itself more than our artillery and engineer corps had done in the recent operations in the East. It was a remarkable fact that our platforms before Sebastopol had required so little repair that, although shells had exploded over our magazines, not one of them had been blown up. He should next call attention to the Vote for Commissariat and Barrack supplies, &c., on which there was 118 an increase of 103,473l. The sum required for barrack supplies amounted to 355,450l., including supplies for the camp at Aldershot, 36,000l., for foreign troops, 40,000l. for the depôt about to be formed at Malta. There was a sum of 115,000l. for great coats, and in the amount for boots and shoes there was was an increase of 43,512l. The clothing for the foreign legion was 90,000l., men and clothing for the militia, an increase of 56,950l. He might add to his former remarks respecting the warm clothing, that the Government had sent out an able and experienced officer with an experienced clerk, and some of the best labourers from the Tower, well acquainted with the package of stores, to Balaklava, there to collect the warm clothing and send them to a storehouse in the Bosphorus, with a view to preserve them for future use. Vote 3 was intended to be withdrawn. There were certain changes likely to be made in the Ordnance Office, and when those were effected, an estimate would then be presented to the House. On Vote 4 there was an excess over the last year of 19,504l. for Ordnance establishments. There was an increase in the home establishments, 5,954l.; lodging the Irish militia, 10,000l.; lodging the foreign legion, 2,500l.; and additional clerks of works, 938l. However, in every colonial establishment, except those situate near the seat of war, there had been a diminution of expense, and the decrease upon that head would have been greater had it not been for the necessity of forming a new establishment in the Bosphorus. Vote 5, for wages, 368,872l., was 81,027l. in excess of last year, arising, of course, from the enormous demand for labour at the different establishments. He would call attention to one item in which there was a decrease, which must strike everybody as remarkable, and which required explanation. It was a diminution of 16,336l. in the amount asked for the new gun factory at Woolwich. The explanation, however, was easy and simple. In the month of May last he found that the supply of shells was very deficient indeed; and, in point of fact, if any great action had been fought, either by land or by sea, they could not have replenished the magazines, and they would, consequently, have been exposed to great danger. Finding that to be the case, he sent for an officer of the most distinguished scientific talent, who had displayed great mechanical ingenuity and inventive powers, Captain Boxer, 119 a gentleman whose services had been so much recognised in the East. His shell had been acknowledged by all the authorities at the seat of war to be the most valuable invention that had been introduced for more than twenty years into the service. He (Mr. Monsell) sent for Captain Boxer, and pointed out to him the position they were in. Captain Boxer at once undertook to remove the difficulty, if he were allowed to make use of an old storehouse in Woolwich as a factory for the manufacture of fuses, and the "bouching" of shells. The proposal was agreed to, the necessary works were erected for 7,000l., and that 7,000l. was saved in the first six months. Having agreed to Captain Boxer's terms, he gave him the fullest authority in the matter, and left to him the erection of the factory and everything connected with it. In that factory there had been saved to the country a sum of 1,200l. in one week. The saving in that factory was at the rate of 60,000l. a year, but he did not mean to say that 60,000l. had been saved, because the factory was not sufficiently long at work. If it had worked every week in the year, in the way it had worked during the week to which he had alluded, the saving thereby effected would be 60,000l. in the year, and he believed that there would actually be a saving at the end of the year of about 40,000l. The factory was not always kept at work, because it was found that it was not possible to obtain the shell itself with sufficient rapidity for that purpose. A few items would show the great advantage which the factory had proved to the country. Before its establishment there were 500 Moorsom fuses made weekly; afterwards there were 1,050, and at a saving of 141l. Of shells prepared for fuses there had been 3,500 per week; since the establishment of the factory the number was 10,257, at a saving in wages of 110l. There had been 3,000 wooden fuses made weekly, now there were 10,000, at a saving of 72l. The result was, that whereas in May the number of 8-inch shells in the storekeeper's departments was 4,398, it now amounted to 10,886. He was perfectly aware that this country, with its manufacturing powers so extensively developed in all articles of ironwork, ought to produce any number of shells which could possibly be required; but still the fact remained that we had now been a year at war, and that a sufficient number of shells had not been supplied. The demand had, 120 in truth, been much greater than the supply. It was found, also, that a considerable increase had been made by the contractors in the price of the shells supplied to Government. In 1852, 8-inch shells were supplied to Government at 7l. 8s. per ton, but the price charged in 1855 was 13l. 16s., making an increase of 6l. 8s. per ton. No doubt it would be said that this increase was caused, to a certain extent, by the increase in the price of iron; but the cost of iron of the quality of which shells were made, which was, in 1852, 3l, 2s. 7d. per ton, in 1855 had only risen to 3l. 18s. 4d. per ton, being an increase of only 15s. 9d. The amount of fuel required for the manufacture of a ton of shells was said to be five cwt., and, at that calculation, the cost of fuel for manufacturing shells would be 4s. 9d. per ton in 1852, and in 1855, 6s. 2d., making an increase of ls. 3d. In the same way, the labour which, in 1852, cost 1l. 7s. per ton, in 1855 cost 1l. 9s. 6d., according to the authority of one of the largest manufacturing firms in Bradford—one of the principal places where the manufacture of Government shells was carried on; and, lastly, the freight from that district which, in 1852, was 10s. per ton, in 1855 had risen to 1l., being an increase of 10s. This made altogether an increase in the price of a ton of shells of 4l. 17s. 11d. The Government, therefore, feeling the immediate want of shells—though they knew that, in time, they should be able to obtain as many as they might require —taking into consideration the great increase of the price of shells, and the advantage of putting themselves in a position to control the contractors, and being sensible, moreover, of the importance of attaching a foundry to the Royal Laboratory, where they might be able, at a moment's notice almost, to supply any number of any given sort of shells which might be wanted on a sudden emergency, had determined to establish this foundry at Woolwich; and he was firmly convinced that, had it only been established six months ago, a saving would already have been effected of more than the amount—10,000l. —which was asked for its construction. It would be of the greatest service, too, in enabling the contractors to learn with greater rapidity how to make the particular sorts of shells which were required; for at present considerable time was lost before they were able to construct them with that accuracy and perfection which were indispensable in these articles; and he was 121 sorry to say that very frequently the old contractors were backward in allowing the new contractors to inspect their modes of manufacture. This Vote, however, for the shell foundry was not the only one which he was about to ask for on account of machinery in connection with the Royal Laboratory, for it must be remembered, with regard to all these works, that they were required for the manufacture of articles for which there was no demand in the country except on the part of the Government, and that the country, therefore, to be prepared for the commencement of a war, must either have kept large stores of these articles, or else have had establishments in which these stores could be rapidly replenished. Now, nothing could be more inexpedient than to keep large stores at a time when every day was bringing forth new discoveries, and when a thing that was new one day was obsolete the next. As a mere matter of economy, it was of the greatest possible importance to have an establishment where, by means of the best machinery—which would soon repay its own cost by a diminution of the expenses of labour—large quantities of these articles could be rapidly supplied, and this really was the justification of all these votes asked for on account of machinery. The saving which would result from the erection of this machinery, independently of the greater perfection and accuracy insured, would be very great. For instance, it included machinery which would manufacture 150,000 war rockets in the year (the present supply of which was most inadequate) at a saving of somewhere about 30,000l; also for making 60,000,000 small arm cartridges in the year by a new patent, by which somewhere about 25,000l. would be saved annually. The next Vote to which he wished to call the attention of the House was the sum of 800,000l. for small arms, being an increase of 543,600l. on the Vote asked for last year. There was considerable doubt, however, whether all this sum would be expended, for the accounts which he had received from the manufacturers, both in this country and at Liege, were anything but satisfactory. On the other hand, he must say that many of the manufacturers were using great exertions, and he was happy to state that two of the principal ones the other day informed him that, with the exception of one small grievance, which he had the power of removing at the moment, they had no grievances to complain of. They were perfectly content with the way in 122 which operations were conducted by the Government, and he trusted that, under these circumstances, they would redouble their exertions, and not allow the country to be left in the miserable and melancholy condition in which it was placed last year with respect to Minié rifles. The Vote for machinery he had already alluded to, and consequently he would now pass on to Vote No. 7, where there was an increase of 454,679l. over the Vote of last year. This was partly occasioned by new barracks about to be erected by the direction of the Government on the western heights of Dover, which would cost 60,000l., and which he believed to be absolutely necessary to the perfection of the defences there; by new barracks at Gosport for the same purpose, which would cost 61,000l.; and also by the erection of permanent barracks at Aldershot, which would cost a sum of 250,000l. These last would be complete barracks in every particular, and would afford to the troops a permanent opportunity for concentration and acting together in large bodies, thereby giving our officers the means of learning the art, not only of commanding regiments, but also of large detachments and bodies of men. These new buildings would be erected at an expense considerably less than the barracks which it had been the habit to use in this country. The change was chiefly owing to the Commission which had been sent over to Belgium to inspect the barracks used for a similar purpose in that country. The next Vote (No. 8) related to the scientific branch, and exhibited an increase of 3,828l. over the Vote of last year; the increase required for the Royal Military Academy being 1,759l., and for the increase for establishment at Chatham 1,924l. The increase in these cases was occasioned by an increased number of cadets and engineers. A great item in this Vote was, as usual, occasioned by the sum for the Ordnance survey. In respect to this matter, the Committee were aware that last year a great controversy arose on the subject of the scale, and, queries being sent out, a large preponderance of the answers were in favour of a much larger scale than six inches, and arrangements were adopted for having a scale of somewhere about twenty-four inches to the mile. At the present moment, experiments were being tried to work the survey by means of contracts with private individuals and by piecework; and he hoped that in the course of three or four months sufficient 123 experience would be obtained to enable the Government to come to a final decision on the subject. The maps, he believed, were to be engraved by the anastatic process. The next and last Vote, for the non-effective services, military and civil, exhibited an increase over the sum voted last year of 19,659l. This was occasioned by new warrants; and here he might mention that he found that the junior first captain placed an the list in 1805 averaged ten years' service, and he now averaged fourteen years' service. The senior lieutenant-colonel in 1805 was an officer of thirty-two years' service, and he was now an officer of forty-four years' service. The whole sum required for the non-effective services, military and civil, amounted to 197,657l.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding 1,402,961l. be granted to Her Majesty, for defraying the Charge which will probably be incurred to the 31st day of March, 1855, on account of Barrack Supplies, &c., Wages and Ordnance Stores, &c.
said, he understood that an unfavourable Report had been forwarded to the Government as to the unhealthy site of the proposed hospital at Smyrna. He believed it was more so than Scutari, and, after the month of May, it would be very destructive to the lives of our soldiers. He hoped that those who were qualified to give advice on this matter would be listened to. As to the supply of greatcoats to the army and the militia, he would suggest, as he conceived it impossible for the Ordnance, for some time to come at least, to furnish the necessary supply, that the colonels of each regiment should be authorised to furnish them, and should only receive the actual price. Many of the greatcoats supplied to the French army—a portion of which were lent to our troops —had actually been made in London, and yet our army was most imperfectly supplied. The boots that had been sent were all, he understood, too small, and were consequently useless. They were wanted to wear over the men's ordinary shoes, and they ought to have been made large in proportion. He wished to know whether, in the camp equipage, tents were included. Last year he had several times called attention to the state of the tents when the expedition was going out, and he observed particularly that at that time they had no lining. He had not yet heard whether that want had been supplied. He 124 also wished to inquire why it was that the 90th, 46th, and 63rd Regiments, which had been sent out late in the year, had not been supplied with warm clothing. It was afterwards sent, but many of them never received it; the consequence was a great mortality among the men when put to work in the trenches. The 63rd Regiment was reduced to two-thirds of its number. This loss, he considered, was entirely attributable to the neglect of the Government. The Ordnance, it was true, had supplied the clothing as fast as they got the order; but the blame rested on some other department of the Government. To them it was owing that half an army had perished. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Monsell) had referred to the Committee which sat last year on the manufacture of small arms; but it should be remembered that that Committee had none of the information before them respecting the manufacture of arms in America, which the hon. Gentleman had since received. He (Colonel Dunne) and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) had gone to Mr. Colt's manufactory and examined Mr. Colt; and they found that none of the pieces manufactured by him would fit without being filed for the purpose. If the Government had now got better information from America, he hoped the proposed manufacture would succeed as well as they anticipated. The hon. Gentleman had given a satisfactory account of the improved and cheaper mode of making shells. There had been a very prevalent idea, however, that the mortar shells at Sebastopol had not burst as they ought to have done. He hoped that this was not to be the general result of the cheapness to which the hon. Gentleman had referred. He believed that at this moment there were some 30,000 stand of arms locked up in the different barracks and storehouses in Ireland, while scarcely any of the Irish militia had arms or had been drilled. He hoped that the hon. Gentleman would report to the Minister for War the difficulty which was experienced in drilling the militia in Ireland in consequence of the want of arms. Within the last four years there had been 1,666,000l. expended in small arms. That sum ought to provide 350,000 stand of arms, and it had all been expended since the new pattern musket had been invented. He trusted that some arrangements would be made for the speedy delivery of those muskets. He objected to contracts being still made for arms of the old patterns. 125 Why should the Government contract for arms that were obsolete?
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, he should most certainly divide the Committee against the Vote for 40,000l. to defray the expenses of the establishment at Enfield. It would be recollected that the Small Arms Committee had recommended some augmentation in the Enfield manufactory, but it was only to a limited extent; and that Mr. Whitworth, the eminent American engineer, on being asked what would be the expense of working the stocks at that establishment, stated it at 5,000l. Well, last year the Board of Ordnance asked for a Vote of 25,000l. on account of the establishment at Enfield; and a few nights ago the House had seen a Supplementary Estimate brought forward, demanding a further sum of 15,000l.; making, with the previous estimate, a sum of 40,000l. as the expenditure of a single year. And again, this year, a sum of 40,000l. was asked for the manufactory at Enfield, making the enormous amount of 80,000l. in all. Now, the Committee must bear in mind that last year the Board of Ordnance made good none of their promises; and in every important instance they were obliged to admit they had been deceived in their calculations. But, notwithstanding that, the parties they were now sending to America to transact their business were the very same persons by whom they had been deceived at home. Nor was the hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance very candid in his statements. He had not told the Committee why he had received so small a quantity of arms. Now the first reason was, that the Board of Ordnance was deficient in all sorts of knowledge; and the method of its constitution was but a sample of the way in which public business was transacted in this country. Men were placed to manage all sorts of boards without any sort of knowledge of their subject. The Government had received only 50,000 rifles during the year 1854, and he would show why. First of all, although the decision of the Small Arms Committee, of which he (Mr. Muntz) had been a Member, was given in favour of continuing the contract system for some time longer as early as April, the contracts were not given out until the 30th of June. But then, when were the patterns delivered to the manufacturers? Why, not until the 10th of August; while the materials—and he would beg the especial attention of the Committee to this fact— 126 were not supplied until November. The contracts were for 90,000 rifles, and hon. Gentlemen might rest perfectly satisfied the whole of them would have been completed before this if the patterns had been given out in time. Again, with regard to the sighting of the guns. Although that was a point upon which the most precise instructions should be given, all was left in doubt and uncertainty. But then, when the guns were finished, they could not be used until the bayonets were ready; and how had the Board of Ordnance endeavoured to supply them? Why, first they tried to get them at 5s. 6d. a piece, although they were told it would be quite impossible to manufacture them of the description required at that price. Still they managed to make a few contracts with some second-rate workmen at that rate; but afterwards, finding by experience that it was impossible to get the whole of the contracts taken up at 5s. 6d., the Board of Ordnance consented to raise the price to 7s. 6d., and thus they managed to disturb the state of trade most injuriously. At the present moment the delivery of rifles from Birmingham amounted to 1,600 per week, and in a little time that quantity, he had every reason to believe, would be doubled, provided always that the manufacturers were only dealt with in a fair and tradesmanlike way. Let the Government get some man of business—some one who understood the manufacture of small arms—to manage matters for them. He had gone down himself to inspect the establishment at Enfield, and he could safely say it was a most excellent one; but yet, last year, there actually was a proposal to remove the establishment to Woolwich, and thereby swamp the whole of this vast outlay. Some time ago it had been proposed that a very distinguished townsman of his, Mr. Westley Richards, should superintend, on the part of the Board of Ordnance, all matters relating to the supply of small arms. He believed, however, that some paltry question as to the amount of remuneration to be offered that gentleman stood in the way of the arrangement being carried out, although Mr. Richards could have saved the country over and over again the amount of his salary. He would only say, that if the Government expected to have a large amount of small arms supplied by the manufacturers of this country, they must alter their mode of dealing with those gentlemen. He should divide the 127 Committee against this Vote, as he felt unable to sanction the principle of an outlay of money, made without consulting anybody, and without knowing whether they were right or wrong. He considered the manufacture of carcass shells, as proposed now to be conducted, one of the grossest jobs ever known. In the end, the recommendations of the Small Arms Committee would be found far more valuable, and far cheaper, than those of any lot of scheming engineers.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding 1,387,961l., be granted to Her Majesty, for defraying the Charge which will probably be incurred to the 31st day of March 1855, on account of Barrack Supplies, &c., Wages, and Ordnance Stores, &c.
§ SIR JOSEPH PAXTON
said, that after the experimental camp at Chobham had been established, it had been decided that it would be advisable for the Government to have at their disposal some large space for the purpose of exercising and encamping large bodies of troops, and, in consequence of that decision, a very excellent piece of land had been purchased for that purpose at Aldershot, a neighbourhood easy of access by two railways and a canal. They had heard for a considerable time that large barracks were to be erected there for the accommodation of troops which were to be ready for a large encampment in the spring. He found, however, that no steps whatever had been taken in the matter, that not even a tender was sent out before the 22nd of January, and then a tender was sent out for the erection of huts capable of accommodating 20,000 men, which huts were to be completed by the 15th of March. It struck him at the time that it was somewhat extraordinary that the Ordnance should allow so short a period as six weeks for erection of those huts, and he therefore entered into a calculation as to the amount of labour and material necessary for their erection. He found from that calculation that, from the number of trains required each day to carry the necessary materials, it would be impossible between the time the tender was accepted and the time fixed for the completion of the contract to supply those materials on the spot. He found also from the specification that the timber was to be fir from Motel, Riga, and Dantsic. More than three-fourths of the material used was to be yellow Christiana deal, and it would be found, on inquiry of any merchant or contractor, that there was 128 not enough wood of this description in Great Britain to erect one-half of the huts required. It was utterly impossible that the huts proposed to be erected could be completed in six weeks without a very large additional expenditure beyond the estimate. About a fortnight after the 22nd of January the Ordnance Office issued another tender for bricks and concrete to form the foundations of these huts, so that only a month was allowed for laying the foundations and completing the erection. It was next to an impossibility, therefore, that the buildings could be finished within such a period, but if the huts were completed by the 15th of March he would willingly admit that it would be one of the most wonderful things ever accomplished in this country. It was not until the 22nd of January that the Ordnance issued notice for tenders for the erection of permanent barracks. The conditions of tender were, he believed, that 9,000l. or 10,000l. a month should be spent upon these barracks, as he supposed, until they were finished. He found, however, that no sort of preparation had been made upon the ground to enable the contractors to commence their work. Had the Ordnance issued contracts last summer for making 20,000,000 bricks, and laid down a branch railway to one of the lines in the neighbourhood, he did not think it would have been necessary to provide one-half of the huts which were now to be erected at so large a cost. The consequence of this was, that they must pay a very considerable sum, which it would otherwise have been unnecessary to expend, in consequence of the precipitate manner in which the operation was conducted. He believed the best plan would be for the Ordnance and all the Government departments where the application of materials was concerned, to do as little as they could avoid out of their own offices. He had no doubt, if plans and estimates had been obtained by tender last year for erecting these barracks, that not only would there have been a considerable saving of money, but that the barracks would by this time have been ready for the occupation of the soldiers. He had heard it stated, indeed, that the reason why Messrs. Fox, Henderson, and Co. had carried out so successfully the various works they had undertaken was because, when the plan was laid down. they would not allow any one to interfere with them. With regard to the proposed manufactory of small arms at Enfield, he 129 considered that it was a very bad principle either for individuals or companies to attempt to manufacture everything they wanted for themselves, unless they were certain the demand for the articles would be regular. He could not conceive that this country would always be at war, and, consequently, he thought it would be very impolitic on the part of the Government to have large establishments for the manufacture of materials which were needed in time of war, but which would not be required in a time of peace. Such a system would have a bad effect, with respect to small arms, upon private manufacture, especially in Birmingham. If the Government established a factory at Enfield, and consequently discouraged private manufactures, where would be the means of obtaining an additional supply of arms during a time of war if any sudden pressure occurred which the Government might be unable to meet from their own resources? He thought the preferable course would be to employ such men as Mr. Whitworth to ascertain the best mode of manufacturing small arms, and then, giving such information to the manufacturers, to leave them to perform the work.
said, that he had been a member of the Committee on small arms last year, before whom it was stated that the price of 3l. for a rifle was too high, and that such arms could be manufactured for a much less amount. The Committee were told that, if a little ornamental decoration, which was perfectly useless, was dispensed with, rifles quite as good as those now made could be produced at a saving of at least 15s. upon each rifle. The Government, however, would not give way on the point, and reduce the price by dispensing with unnecessary ornament. They said they must have rifles of their own manufacture, and that they could be made by machinery. When the Government were asked for an example of the manufacture of rifles or muskets by machinery, they said, "The Russians have such machinery already. They have got a far better musket than you have. They have the machinery, and you have not advanced in this respect so far as they have done." This statement occasioned some surprise, but he thought the actions in the Crimea had shown that our rifles were at least not inferior to those of the Russians. He certainly considered that, when an order was given for any description of arms, a pattern ought to be issued. If a gentleman 130 gave an order for a quantity of ironmongery, would he not give out a pattern of what he required, even down to a poker? The Government, however, did not issue any patterns for arms. It had been insisted upon in the Committee that every contract ought to bear date from the issue of the pattern, but the returns which had been furnished gave no account of the date when the patterns were given out. The Government complained that the contracts were not completed, but how could they be completed when no patterns were issued to the manufacturers? The Committee was now asked to grant 40,000l. to the Board of Ordnance for the establishment of a manufactory of small arms at Enfield, but they were told that the arrangements of the existing Board of Ordnance had been so unsatisfactory that they were not to manage these matters for the future. They did not know, therefore, to whom they were going to intrust the expenditure of this large sum of money. It had been proposed last year that the House should grant some 25,000l. or 30,000l. to try the plan of establishing a manufactory, and to see how it answered. Government promised last year that if they got the money they would not only have the factory established, but the rifles produced; and he now wished to know if the Government works were so far advanced that some portion of the firearms was ready, or were hon. Members to be called upon to vote another 40,000l. in the dark? They were asked to place this sum in the hands of the Board of Ordnance, and at the same time they were not told who was at the head of that Board. As men of business, they ought not to be called upon to vote money until they knew to what sort of establishment it was to be given. For his own part, he believed they would obtain the weapons much more rapidly by dealing with the trade in a fair manner. He did not think they had dealt fairly by the trade, but on the contrary, he thought the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) plainly showed that the Government had not treated the trade in a business-like manner. If he were desirous of giving an instance of the mismanagement of a public department, he could not adduce a more striking case than that of the Board of Ordnance. With respect to the proposed camp at Aldershot, he observed that no less a sum than 375,000l. was to be expended for barracks there during the present year. Now, he thought it was to 131 be a sort of encampment, and that soldiers were there to be prepared for actual service; but he was afraid the men were to be so luxuriously housed, that they would be rendered totally unfit for real warfare. Did they mean to stable the horses in the same way as in cavalry barracks, where the animals were unfitted for work in the field? For military operations he doubted whether that mode was a wise one. When he looked at the large sum of 375,000l., he was curious to know whether the Government had asked Sir Charles Barry to build the barracks at Aldershot. Again, the Committee was asked to vote a sum of 60,000l. for barracks at Dover. Who was going to look after their erection? No private individual would dream of commencing to build a house at the very moment he had dismissed his clerk of the works. Yet that was the very thing which the Government now proposed to do. They had got rid of the Board of Ordnance, and yet they came down and asked the Committee to vote 60,000l. for the erection of barracks at Dover, which, he presumed, had nothing to do with the war with Russia. Again, the Government asked for a considerable sum for the defence of commercial harbours—12,000l. for Liverpool and 10,000l. for the Humber. Now, that measure might be necessary; it was possible that our fleets could not defend our coasts from the Russians; but he did not think it would be wise in the Committee to vote so large a sum of money until they knew something of the establishment under which it was to be expended. He had heard no reason whatever for departing from the principle laid down last year with regard to the establishment at Enfield, and unless the Government could give them one, he should be disposed to reduce the vote by a sum of 40,000l.
§ MR. G. DUNDAS
said, he was surprised at the hostility evinced by several hon. Members to the manufactory at Enfield for making small arms by self-acting machinery, under the surveillance of the Government. Last year, when there was not such a demand for arms as there was now, objections might fairly enough have been raised to that establishment; but he must confess that he was at a loss to understand the opposition to it in the present emergency, unless, indeed, it was to be attributed to a desire on the part of hon. Gentlemen who represented manufacturing districts to support the interests of their constituents. The question before the 132 Committee was, whether small arms should be made by hand, in the old-fashioned way, or by means of machinery. It had been said by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) that the evidence taken before the Committee last year went to show that the Government were entirely wrong in their views. Now that he considered was quite a matter of opinion. He thought the Government proved their case most completely by the evidence of scientific men, all of whom concurred in assuring the Committee that it was most desirable that self-acting machinery should be adopted wherever it could be employed, so as to make the Government independent of the caprices of workmen and manufacturers. Twelve years ago he visited a manufactory of small arms at Springfield, in America, and he never was more pleased with anything than with that. Every part of a musket was there made by self-acting machinery, and the persons employed were comparatively unskilled; in fact, the establishment altogether bore a striking resemblance to that of Colonel Colt, not far from where he was now speaking. He trusted the Committee would adopt the suggestion that had been made by the clerk of the Ordnance, and not go to a division on the Vote.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, the Committee had heard in the course of the discussion several pleasing instances of the neglect, mismanagement, and ignorance of the Government departments. The observations of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) and of the hon. Member for Coventry (Sir J. Paxton) could not fail to make some impression on hon. Members. These exposures were coming to be too frequent; and, what was very curious, they never heard of any person being punished on account of these things. There was one subject upon which he would like to have some explanation from the clerk of the Ordnance—he meant with respect to the fusees. He could bear witness to the fact, that the fusees issued during the early part of the siege of Sebastopol were so disgracefully bad, that out of every ten shells thrown, no more than three or four burst at all. He believed a Report was made to the head of the department upon the subject, representing that gross negligence had been shown in the construction of the shells, and he should like to know whether that Report, drawn up in the middle of last October, had been sent to this country, and whether in consequence 133 any steps had been taken to investigate the case, and punish the guilty parties, whoever they might be? There was another question which he should also like to put to the hon. Gentleman. He observed in the Estimates a sum of 50,000l. for clothing, accoutrements, and knapsacks to the foreign legion. Now he should like to know where that foreign legion was? They had heard a good deal of it; the Bill for its embodiment was pressed upon them in a very hasty manner at the end of last year; but up to the present day he did not know where this mythical legion was, of what it was composed—whether of Austrians, or Germans, or Spaniards, or Dutchmen—or why they were asked to vote 50,000l. to dress these men of straw. Supposing, however, this foreign legion had been collected, had they been consulted with regard to their clothing, or was the Government going to provide for them trousers which were too short, and shoes which were too small—in fact, all that precious collection of dress sent out to our unfortunate troops in the Crimea? Then, again, with regard to the knapsacks. He had made some inquiries upon that subject while in the Crimea, and universal testimony was borne to the great superiority of the French knapsack over those supplied to the English army, which were heavier than those of our allies, and more galling to the soldier. Now, it would, he thought, be only fair to the Members of the foreign legion, wherever that might be, that they should be consulted as to the kind of knapsack and of accoutrements with which they were to be furnished. He wished also to touch upon another point. There was a large sum in the Estimates for the engineering department. Now he did not intend to depreciate the ability of our engineers, but he thought the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Monsell) was, no doubt, aware that, whatever the actual execution of that work might have been, the theoretical engineering work of the English army in the Crimea was not very creditable, and that not a single map of our siege operations before Sebastopol had been sent to this country, nor did he believe that (until lately, at all events) any such snap was prepared by the officer in command of that department. Such a state of things, he believed, certainly did exist as lately as the end of the month of December, and he repeated that it was not creditable to this country. An hon. and gallant Member had referred to the proposed hospital at 134 Smyrna. Now it was stated by a Member of the Government on a previous occasion that this hospital was merely intended for winter and not for summer. But the winter was almost passed, and summer was rapidly approaching in that country, and it was only to-day he read in the public papers that nurses and attendants were sent out to the Smyrna hospital. Now Smyrna was a very unhealthy place in summer. There was not a single English family resident in it who did not leave it during summer. Surely we had lost life enough already, and ought not to throw more away in this wanton manner. He did entreat the Government not to go on in this way any longer. The country was too excited with its losses to tolerate such conduct. Why, the hospital at Smyrna was built in the corner of a bog, at the lowest and worst part of the town, and in a few weeks the place would be afflicted with gastric fever, which always raged there in summer. He also desired to call the attention of the Government to the state of Balaklava. That harbour was a hole, surrounded by lofty mountains, and when the warm weather came they would have a plague breaking out at Balaklava, and perhaps carrying off every man there. He did entreat the Government to reflect upon that subject. Another subject to which he would refer was the Turkish contingent, which was to consist, as they had heard, of 20,000 men, to be commanded by English officers. Now, he knew nothing of the officer appointed to the chief command of that contingent, except that he was related to a noble Lord in the other House, but he saw that upon his staff already appointed was a relation of the noble Lord at the head of the War Department. General Vivian might be a very able man, but he was afraid that all the other qualifications he might possess were not sufficient to overcome his want of knowledge of the country and of the character of the troops he would have to command. He (Mr. Layard) did not think this Turkish contingent would answer. If the Government had sent out a sum of money to enable Omer Pasha to feed and support his men some months ago, they might have done some good; but he did not think that English officers alone would succeed in such a service. The Turks made admirable soldiers, and he was glad to see that Major Nasmyth, at Edinburgh, the other day, bore ample testimony to their bravery; but he did not believe that 135 such a body as that now proposed, commanded by an English officer, ignorant of the country and ignorant of his men, would answer the expectations formed of it.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that he had served on the Committee last year to consider the supply of small arms; the appointment of that Committee was the result of the proposal of the Government to found an arms factory, on the plea that they could not procure arms from the trade. The hon. Member who had spoken last but one (Mr. Dundas) had been a Member of that Committee; he heard the evidence, which decided the votes of the majority of that Committee against the proposal of the Government, who had sanctioned the appointment of that Committee; but the hon. Member had twelve years before seen the arms factory erected by the Government of the United States at Springfield, and therefore he could not believe that arms could be procured elsewhere than from a Government arms factory. He was an illustration of the fact, that there are some men who cannot learn. It was proved before that Committee that the arms trade of England had not only supplied the Government of this country, when fairly treated, but had at different times supplied large quantities of arms to the French, to the Spanish, to the Portuguese, to the Peruvian Government; in short, at different times, they had supplied large quantities of arms to the Governments of almost every country, and constantly supplied the whole quantity of arms required for our Indian army; and yet the Government departments wanted to persuade the House that the arms trade of England could not supply the English army, although a committee of the United States' House of Representatives had, in their report on the application for a renewal of Colonel Colt's patent, termed England the heart of the arms trade of the world. It had required some contrivance to establish even a seeming ground to so untenable a proposition; so Mr. Lovell, who had been inspector of small arms for the Ordnance for some years, had during the years 1851–2–3 established such stringent regulations for viewing the materials for arms, sent in by the trade, that one of the Government viewers, in his evidence, declared that it was impossible for the trade to supply materials for 25,000 arms at the price given by the Ordnance subject to those regulations, and that he had been compelled to reject quantities of serviceable materials. Even this, 136 coupled with the fact that the expenditure for small arms had been reduced from the average of 135,000l. a year, which had prevailed during the previous eight years, to 62,000l., as the average of the three years 1851, 1852, 1853, had failed completely to prevent the supply being furnished by the trade; so Mr. Lovell compelled the Government workmen to put the sights on the first 20,000 Minié muskets ordered by the Government crooked, and, though warned of the fact, placed those arms thus mutilated in the hands of the Guards, by way of the illustration of the injustice at that time perpetrated by rejecting good materials. He would mention a fact; Mr. Lovell was appointed one of the judges for the Great Exhibition in 1851; a manufacturer of musket locks sent a lock for exhibition which had been rejected by the Government viewers, and Mr. Lovell, as judge, gave a first-class prize for the very lock which had been rejected under his own directions as unfit for the use of the army. By such unworthy means the arms trade had no doubt been injured and discouraged; and Sir Thomas Hastings, on the part of the Board of Ordnance, declared in his evidence that the trade could not be relied upon to produce 25,000 arms in the year for the use of the army. But what was the fact? Notwithstanding the mismanagement and misconduct of the officials of the Ordnance, notwithstanding the delay of orders, and of the delivery of patterns, which the hon. Member for Birmingham had described, the arms trade had furnished from 40,000 to 50,000 arms in the last year, almost all of the Minié construction, or nearly double the quantity Sir Thomas Hastings had stated as the maximum of their production. What happened last year? The Government came down to ask a vote of 100,000l. for an enormous Government Arms Factory, at the end of February. The House appointed the Small Arms Committee, that commenced their inquiry on the 2nd March. Upon the 7th April that Committee came to a Resolution that a factory upon a small scale should be adopted by the Government, but that the system of obtaining supplies of arms by contract from the trade should be continued. Well, if there was a real pressure for arms they ought to have sent an order to Birmingham. But they did not send such order. The Committee finally reported on the 12th of May. But no order was sent down by the Government for any such quantity of materials 137 for arms as would enable the trade to cast aside their private orders and apply their whole resources to the service of the country till the 22nd of June. The noble Lord the Member for Totness (Lord Seymour) had very properly stated that an order for arms without patterns was merely waste paper. The manufacturers were required to supply an article made to one-thirty-thousandth part of an inch in accuracy. It was therefore impossible for them to produce such a weapon without a pattern. How was it possible for a man to work within one-thirty-thousandth part of an inch from a pattern that he had never seen? On the 21st of February, 1854, the Board of Ordnance entered into a contract for setting up—that was, putting together— 20,000 muskets of the new pattern, which, compared with the quantity required, and the capabilities of the trade, was a small quantity; but when they did that they omitted to order the sights, so that literally they ordered the muskets to be set up without the sights; the pattern for the sights was not furnished till the middle of March. The first order for locks for the large order for 90,000 arms, which the Government were at last induced to give, was issued on the 30th of June, but the patterns were not delivered till two months later; the sights were ordered on the 30th of June, but the patterns were not delivered till the 11th of August; the rammers were ordered on the 30th of June, but the patterns were not delivered till the month of October. An order was issued for 30,000 bayonets on the 7th of August, and it was a part of the contract that they should be delivered on the 1st of September, but the pattern was not supplied the contractors till within a day or two of the date for delivery of the article. The Ordnance now came down to the House, and declared that they could not get their orders executed. Why, it was morally impossible that they could be; and he contended that the country owed a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz), for having day after day devoted himself to obviating the difficulties which the mismanagement of the Ordnance had created. He believed, that with fair play, Birmingham, instead of having produced from 40,000 to 50,000 small arms within the year, would have produced 100,0000. He said a year; but the dates of delivery of the patterns showed that it was within the last six months that most of the work could be 138 done, for the manufacturers could not get on with the work until they had the patterns, and these they had had only six months. It had been stated in the public press in November that the Birmingham manufacturers were greatly deficient in meeting the exigencies of the state. Well a meeting of the manufacturers was called, and it was found, that, though it was the period of the year when the days were the shortest, there was not a single gas-light in any of the Government manufactories or view rooms, and the men were working only seven hours a day, and that the staff was so deficient that there were 10,000 musket barrels lying in the view-rooms uninspected, and thousands of other materials. The Government now came down to the House of Commons and asked it to vote 40,000l. for Enfield, 15,000l. postponed from before Christmas, in addition to 25,000l. in 1854. In other words they were asking the Committee to vote precisely what it refused them last year, on the ground that the trade had not supplied what their own negligence had prevented. The Small Arms Committee had reported that the system adopted towards the trade was a faulty one, and prevented their procuring the necessary supply of arms. The system, however, still remained unchanged. The Government relied upon Mr. Whitworth as a great authority on all mechanical subjects. What did Mr. Whitworth say in his evidence with regard to the system of having a separate contract for each part of the musket, and another for setting the parts together? Why, that it was simply absurd; contrary to mercantile principles, and the development of the arms trade, and altogether incompatible with success. Previous to October last there were only four contractors employed to set up the arms—that was, to put the locks, barrels, and stocks together, and make them into arms. The Government being at last persuaded that there were not sufficient contractors employed to do the work, appointed thirteen contractors more; and the seventeen together employed the whole of the labour of Birmingham. But in January they added another contractor. Of course he was a gun-maker; it would not be supposed that they would set anybody but a gun-maker to do the work! Would it be believed the Government actually gave the contract to make guns to a sword-maker who had not a workman in his employ fitted for, or instructed in, gun-making, and who, as 139 the only thing he could do under the circumstances, went and bribed away the workmen from other contractors? Surely an occurrence of this nature was of itself almost sufficient to stop the work. There, then, was another instance of Government management. He might go on at yet greater length, detailing case after case, illustrative of the utter want of business management, and the total neglect of the merest commercial principles, which marked the transactions of the Government with the gun trade. Under the present system this must be the result. Let the Committee for a moment consider what that system is. They had. first, the Small Arms Committee at the Horse Guards to decide upon the pattern for the arms. These Gentlemen were, doubtless, very good soldiers and excellent officers, but not one of them knew how to make a gun more than he knew how to make his own watch. Yet to such men as these they left the question of what patterns the arms should be. They came to their decisions without possessing any experience or knowledge as to whether the arms could be produced according to their pattern, at a cost that would be paid for a weapon to be placed in the hands of the soldier. The next process was this—the Small Arms Committee, having decided on the pattern, sent it to the Ordnance; but amongst the officers of the Ordnance there was not a man who knew aught about gun-making; but they sent for the inspector of small arms. Well, it appeared that a former inspector had had the sights of 20,000 muskets put on crooked; that he had wilfully put those crooked-sighted muskets into the hands of soldiers destined for the Crimea, and that, if it had not been for the trade of Birmingham warning the Guards, they would have been sent out to the East with these mutilated arms. This showed how little the Ordnance could control their subordinate—the Inspector of Small Arms. True, they had now a respectable inspector of small arms in Mr. Gunner, but he was deficient in mercantile, though not in mechanical, knowledge; and while the muskets and materials for muskets came in at the rate of 1,600 per week —the rate at which they were at present produced—they could not expect him to be always in his place as a referee between the manufacturers and the viewers, and at the same time to be travelling throughout the districts where the construction of the several parts of the musket was carried on, for the purpose of seeing that the arti- 140 cles produced were of such a quality that they would eventually form a good musket, and were in course of production in such relative quantities that they would be ready for "setting up," that is, to be made into muskets at the time required. Why, it was physically impossible for any man to do both these things. What they wanted, therefore, was a well-qualified Commissioner to watch the progress of the trade, and to see that the several parts of the musket were produced by the time they were required. They had no officer of the kind, and the consequence was the creation of great confusion; but there was no blame to be attributed to the trade, who had produced within the year, and in the face of the greatest difficulties, nearly double the quantity of muskets that Sir Thomas Hastings had assigned as the maximum of production. If they only employed a business man to regulate the trade, as every commercial firm and as every foreign Government did, he (Mr. Newdegate) was convinced that we had in England available now, not six months hence, when it was said the proposed factory would be open, the power of producing arms as good as any manufactory that the Government could establish. It was absurd to suppose, however, that the trade could enter into large engagements so long as they knew they were in danger of being superseded. And the most effectual way of stopping the power of production was for the Government to commence a factory, by which means they would give an assurance to the trade that they would not get a return for the capital it had invested in machinery. The hon. Member for Linlithgowshire (Mr. G. Dundas) had spoken to-night as if there were no machinery employed by the trade. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that the most perfect machinery in the world was used in Birmingham for the manufacture of barrels—that machinery was used for bayonets and locks; in short, of every part of a rifle except the stock; and, according to the showing of Mr. Anderson, who recommended the Government factory, the form of the stock upon which the Government had insisted was such that it could not be made by machinery. He had heard it stated that Government had determined that, not being able to get a sufficient supply of small arms in England, they would get it from abroad—not insisting, however, upon the musket being so highly finished as it was in this country. Now, if the Government had been content 141 with an efficient arm—not enhanced in price, and delayed in production, by unnecessary "finish," or fashion, but serviceable, strong, well-bored, and with a good lock—they might have had double the quantity they were now receiving from the English trade. But they confined the trade to an expensive pattern, threw every impediment in their way that stupidity and want of business habits could suggest, and then complained that the trade of England could not supply the wants of the State. The plan embodied in this Vote was not, he was satisfied, intended to meet the emergency of the war in which we were now engaged. Nothing of the sort. If the Government factory had been commenced in March, 1854, according to Mr. Nasmyth, it would not have produced a musket till July or August, 1855. The fact was, that the Government had determined on taking the supply of arms from the trade of England, he knew not why, perhaps because they were actuated by a professional jealousy. The Small Arms Committee at the Ordnance Office would not admit the fact that gun-makers could make guns better than they themselves could. They were, therefore, determined to have it in their own hands, so that they would not be interfered with by practical men. They were jealous of suggestions; excluded them whenever they could; and, he believed, that they intended to exclude the intrusion of civilians by putting some artillery officers at the head of the factory, that they might study a trade to which they had never been apprenticed; no doubt they would bribe the best hands they could get; then they would come down to the House of Commons and exclaim, "See what an economical and efficient arrangement we have made!" By using the resources lavishly of the State they might no doubt supersede the trade. Thus, while they delayed the production of arms, they would manage to deprive the country of that great resource—that vast power of expansive production—which supporting her trade had hitherto afforded her, and which had not failed her in the present emergency.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he had never heard, since he had had the honour of a seat in the House of Commons, a statement which he could declare of his own knowledge to have been more entirely unfounded and erroneous than the one just made by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire; and this he thought he could 142 prove to the satisfaction of the Committee. In the first place, the Board of Ordnance was accused of having insisted on a most elaborately finished gun, with a great many artistic devices about it which were utterly useless. No one attached more weight to the authority of Mr. Westley Richards than the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. When the Committee of which the hon. Gentleman was a Member had closed its inquiries, the Board of Ordnance asked Mr. Westley Richards what alterations he would recommend in the musket. Mr. Westley Richards most kindly devoted himself to the consideration of the subject, and suggested certain alterations, every one of which were adopted by the Board of Ordnance, and that was the answer to the noble Lord's (Lord Seymour's) charge of delay with regard to the pattern, for how was it possible to make changes without some little time being bestowed in considering what changes were desirable? Upon Mr. Richards's recommendation a pattern was adopted, and by that pattern the guns were now made. [Mr. NEWDEGATE: "That was in 1853."] That remark reminded him that the hon. Gentleman had indulged in denunciations of past times, and, for the purpose of censuring the Board of Ordnance, had raked up the ashes of Mr. Lovell, who died long since. But these charges against the Board of Ordnance could not be sustained. In the presence of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Scholefield) two contractors called at the Ordnance Office to make some complaint with reference to improving the stock of one of the guns. The representations they made were immediately attended to. He then asked the two gentlemen—one of them was the Chairman of the Association of Gunmakers of Birmingham —whether there was anything else with which the trade of Birmingham found fault? and those gentlemen replied that the Government was doing everything in the world that was right with respect to the Birmingham makers. Notwithstanding that, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Newdegate) endeavoured to raise a cry against the Government by denouncing these dealings with the Birmingham trade, and attempted to induce the Committee to reject a measure of the highest importance to the country. Now, what were the arguments in favour of a factory? Three gentlemen—Colonel Burn, assistant-inspector of artillery; Captain Ward, who had paid great attention to the subject of small arms; 143 and Mr. Anderson, one of the most eminent mechanists in the country—proceeded to America, investigated most closely the American gunmaking trade, saw all that was done in the American factories, and made an elaborate Report, in which they assured the Government they could make these muskets as perfect as the Minié, at a cost not exceeding half that which the Government was paying for them, and now they were told that was an object of no importance, and which they ought not to secure. The hon. Gentleman talked of showing a good balance-sheet, as if he could not call for Returns, supposing any one were dishonest enough to present false accounts to Parliament. Those accounts, showing every single halfpenny expended, and the number of muskets made, would be presented at the end of every year, that the House might judge whether the factory ought to go on or not. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire had endeavoured to make it appear that there was an opposition between the Government factory and the gun trade of the country. But if the hon. Gentleman would reflect upon what was the number of arms required at home, abroad, and in the colonies, he would see at once that the gun trade of Birmingham need not be afraid in the least degree of having their orders stopped for many years to come. He did not think such an idea had entered the heads of the Birmingham gunmakers, for he had told them to make muskets as fast as they could, and the Government would take all they could produce. It had been said that the patterns for the arms had not been put into the hands of the gun-makers in proper time; but that could be a matter of comparatively small importance, provided the materials for those arms had been furnished in due course. Such had been the case, and the charge which the Government had brought against the gunmakers was, that materials having been placed in their hands in good time, they had not been sent out on the day appointed. But, passing over that subject, he should remind the Committee, in conclusion, that we had now, 26,000l. worth of machinery— 17,000l. worth having been procured in America, and 9,000l. worth in this country. A contract had, in the month of December last, been made upon the part of the Government for a manufactory in which that machinery might be set up; and hon. Members did not hesitate to rise in that House to oppose a vote for such a manu- 144 factory, thus doing their utmost to render completely useless the large amount of machinery which had been purchased. For his own part, he was of opinion that the proposed factory, if established, would be of considerable advantage to the artisans of Birmingham, inasmuch as it would furnish them with models of the various descriptions of machines which in the making of arms it was desirable to employ. He should, therefore, beg the Committee, by agreeing to the Vote, to enable the Government to place in the hands of our troops, in sufficient numbers, such weapons as those by which the victories of Alma and of Inkerman had been achieved.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had, in the course of his speech, stated that Mr. Westley Richards had entirely approved of every part of the present musket.
§ MR. MONSELL
What I said was, that the musket now being manufactured was being made in accordance with the pattern which Mr. Westley Richards recommended.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
He wished to know if the sight, as at present arranged, had been recommended by Mr. Richards? He happened to know that such was not the case; and while upon that subject he would read to the Committee a paragraph which appeared in the Times newspaper of the 27th ultimo. The correspondent of that paper at the seat of war wrote as follows—It may be remembered that some time ago I called attention to the curious arrangement of sending down each sick man with his rifle and pouch filled with cartridges. The rifles are put into store, and the notion was that the sick man might return to use them. Alas, the expectation has been too often unfounded; and the muskets have been left to lie in damp till they are covered with thick rust. The rifles and muskets gathered up from the battle-field have been left frequently in the same condition. Just see the result. When the last battalion of the 71st regiment came here they were provided with 400 of these Minié Rifles from store; 400 of the men were left with the old firelock. On the morning of the first day after they landed the regiment was marched out to support the Rifles against the expected attack of the enemy on the heights. Their rifles were thick with rust, but they loaded them as usual. Yesterday, when they tried to fire off the charges, not one-half of the rifles went off. That would have been the case had the enemy come on, but it would not be so again, for now the arms are cleaned and fit for use. Surely they ought to be kept clean and fit for use in store? The men are not provided with apparatus for drawing the Minié ball; in order to clean the piece it must be discharged.Now he should put it to the hon. Member 145 whether Mr. Westley Richards, a gentleman who deserved well of the country, had not gone to the Ordnance and told the heads of that department that the wrenches for drawing the balls of the Minié musket would not answer the purpose; and whether they had not assured that Gentleman that those wrenches were perfectly efficient? "He should also wish to know whether the Ordnance Department had not now in their possession wrenches which Mr. Westley Richards had proposed, and by which the great inconveniences to which our army before Sebastopol was in that particular subjected, might be obviated?" He knew it to be the fact that the Ordnance Department had in these two and in other instances departed from the recommendation of Mr. Richards; and they, therefore, had no right to lay to the charge of that gentleman difficulties for which they alone must be held responsible. The hon. Gentleman had stated that the circumstance of the patterns not having been furnished to the gun-makers had nothing to do with the delay to be attributed to the setters-up in completing the arms. But the materials had not been furnished in proper time, and hence was it possible that that delay should not have taken place. "The supply of arms from Birmingham had diminished to 1,500 per month, in consequence of there being no materials for the setters-up to put together." The Government were, however, at present in receipt of that number of muskets; and if the trade were not impeded that number would increase to 2,600; but if the Government were to establish a great factory they would destroy the confidence of the traders and diminish the supplies. No trader would work except he expected to make a reasonable return, and if the Committee were to sanction the proposal of the Government they would be supporting their determination to supersede trade.
said, the hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Board of Ordnance had undertaken to defend his department, which both that House and the Government had condemned. But he did not wish to say anything more on that subject, for the Board was now done away with. The hon. Gentleman had said that he did not wish to deprive the makers of the rifle which had won the battle of the Alma and of Inkerman of the advantage of still making them. But who did make then? Why, they were made at Birmingham. And yet the Government wished to have a factory 146 of their own, and asked a Vote of the large sum of 80,000l. that they might establish one. Therefore, so far as the fact went, all that the hon. Gentleman had said about the battle of the Alma and of Inkerman was a mere poetical notion. The hon. Gentleman had stated some reason why a pattern of the guns was not delivered. But it appeared that the Ordnance did not absolutely know when the pattern was delivered, and on that point the whole question turned. Was that the way to transact the business of so important a department? The Ordnance had treated the matter with neglect. What the Committee wanted to know was the price, and a Committee upstairs suggested that 30,000l. should be expended to make the trial; that the best machinery should be got and the rifles produced. That was promised should be done in eighteen months; but after ten months, and when the money had been spent in machinery, they came before the House, and asked for more money to erect buildings. Such treatment was not fair, and to be told that unless 80,000l. were granted the whole matter must be stopped was nothing less than the violation of an engagement. He did not look to the interests of Birmingham, but to the important question, whether it was desirable for Government to manufacture these arms. He doubted whether it was at the time, but had no objection to the trial. At present that trial remained to be made, and, although the hon. Gentleman stated the Ordnance could make them at less price, he thought, before large sums were voted for that purpose, the assertion ought to be proved.
§ MR. JOHN MACGREGOR
said, that while he was willing to vote with the most lavish generosity every sum of money actually necessary for bringing to a conclusion the present war, he thought a strict scrutiny should be made of the various items proposed. He had the greatest faith in the noble Lord at the head of the Ministry, but thought a most unfortunate selection of men had been made in the formation of the Ministry.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he had heard with great surprise and astonishment the opposition which had been made to this Vote. We were engaged in a war which, by universal consent, it required the greatest exertion to conduct with success. It was well known that owing to various circumstances we had for some years past suffered from a great deficiency 147 in the supply of small arms for the army. A proposal was made for the establishment of a factory which would not probably at any early period enable the Ordnance to furnish the number required, but which would contribute to furnish our army with an excellent weapon, and which might probably in course of time render them independent of other sources of supply, or, at all events, enable them to command those sources on moderate and reasonable terms. Yet, at this very moment, when we required every exertion possible to furnish our army and militia with arms, when it was well known that in Ireland some regiments of militia were, he might almost say, doing duty with broomsticks for want of muskets to put into their hands—hon. Gentlemen got up, and, upon various pretences, endeavoured to prevent the country from having the advantage of the establishment which this Vote was intended to afford. Of all reasons on earth, the reason of his noble Friend behind him (Lord Seymour) seemed to him the weakest he could possibly imagine. He forsooth opposed the Vote because the Government was going to reorganise the Ordnance Department, to improve its organisation, and to make arrangements by which errors and delays which had occurred at former periods might be prevented. For that very reason, because the department was going to be made more efficient, and more capable of performing the public service with promptitude and accuracy, his noble Friend objected to the Vote which was now proposed. What would he have said if the contrary had been the case; if the Government had said that that department of which he complained was perfect and wanted no improvement; if they had announced to the Committee that they were not going to make any alteration or any improvement in the arrangement of the civil department? His noble Friend would, doubtless, then have turned upon them and said, "Then I refuse you the Vote. You won't improve your system; you won't make a better organisation of the executive departments which are to carry this service into practice, and therefore I refuse." Now, because they were going to do the very things which he had urged them to do, he made that a reason for refusing to the public the advantage of the establishment which they now asked the Committee to give them the means of providing. He (Lord Palmerston) did trust that the Committee would rise superior to 148 these miserable quibbles. He trusted it would not allow itself to be made the victim of local interests, or of interests connected with particular places and particular branches of trade. We wanted to make use of all the sources of supply which we could possibly obtain. We wanted all that Birmingham could afford us. We had been obliged to have recourse to Liege to assist us in obtaining what we required. We had been compelled to go to the United States of America to procure an additional supply, and he did think that that House would not be performing the duty which it owed to the nation if it refused that which his hon. Friend the Clerk of the Ordnance now asked for the purpose of establishing that which would be only a very partial and experimental establishment for the supply of arms. Did his noble Friend (Lord Seymour) imagine that the 25,000l. which was voted last year was enough to establish a manufactory of arms? It was only a sum upon account. No man could imagine that for 25,000l. you could have erected an establishment which would have afforded you the means of ascertaining whether you could make arms at a cheaper rate than was charged by the private trade. He did hope that the statement of his hon. Friend would be sufficient to induce the Committee to accede to this Vote, and that the Government would not, at a time when it required every exertion to furnish our army, our militia, and our colonies with arms, be turned round and deprived of the means of supply which the establishment now proposed would afford.
§ MR. BAILLIE
said, he wished to ask the hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance whether the contracts for forage for the horses in the East were made by the Ordnance or the Treasury? This would not be a question to be asked on ordinary occasions, but during the war things had not been done in the ordinary manner, and the Committee would not be surprised to hear that the horses were sent without forage, or the forage without horses. After the way in which the horses of the cavalry, artillery, and commissariat had been starved in the Crimea, and knowing that between 15,000 and 16,000 horses were to be sent out for the Commissariat, he thought he was justified in asking which department made the contracts for forage.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, that the Ordnance did not, and he could not say which department did. The Treasury had made use of the Ordnance to furnish some oats.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, he was astonished that the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) should say that he was influenced by local interest at the country's expense. No man was more anxious than he (Mr. Muntz) was to avoid being so influenced, and whenever the question was between local interests and that he always flung the former to the winds. He should move the reduction of the present Vote, because he was convinced that, by so doing, he would be serving the interests of the country. As a specimen of the way in which the Ordnance conducted itself in its relations with manufacturers at Birmingham, he would read to the Committee the following letters—Office of Ordnance, August 4, 1854.Gentlemen,—A report having been made to the Board of Ordnance that you have failed to make the deliveries of the undermentioned articles, due from you within the time specified on your contract—Date of Contract. "Articles,October 6, 1853, 0–411. "Bayonets.I am commanded to acquaint you therewith, and to desire you will immediately state why you have not fulfilled your contract; and I am further to inform you that the penalties attached thereto will be levied upon all the articles not delivered by the time limited.J. WOOD.Messrs. W. Deakin and Sons.Hazelwell Mills, near Birmingham,August 7, 1854.Sir,—We beg respectfully to inform you that our order for bayonets, dated the 6th of October, 1853, 0–411, was completed the 4th day of July last being within the time specified in our contract.WM. DEAKIN AND SONS.J. Wood, Esq.Here then was a case in which parties were written to and reprimanded, although they had completed their contract a month before the time specified. The hon. Member concluded by moving, as an Amendment, that the Vote before the Committee should be reduced by 15,000l.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 34; Noes 170: Majority 136.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (2) 22,346, Number of Men (Ordnance).
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he must complain of the large expense to be incurred in the erection of barracks.
said, he would suggest to the hon. Member for Lambeth that 150 this Vote had nothing to do with bar racks.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, there was one very material point to which he would wish to call the attention of the Committee. He was very happy to hear that the Ordnance Department was to be transferred hereafter to that of the Secretary for War, as was also the Commissariat. By this arrangement an enormous saving might be effected. He observed there were ninety-one storekeepers' establishments, and fifty-four barrack establishments at home and abroad, making altogether 145 such establishments in connection with the Ordnance Department; and there were besides, in nearly all the same places, other establishments connected with the Army, with the Commissariat, and also with the Navy. Now, if the noble Lord would grant an inquiry he (Mr. Williams) would undertake to show that by uniting all those establishments a great saving might be made, and these departments more efficiently conducted. There was another remark he had to make: why had they voted 400,000l. for a foreign force, and were now required to vote 90,000l. more for clothing it, and another sum of 50,000l. on behalf of it, when the noble Lord had stated that the raising of that foreign force had proved a failure? He observed an amount of upwards of 500,000l. for fortifications, and he thought much of the immense sum—nearly 2,000,000l.—which was charged for fortifications and barracks might be saved to the country, and should be saved at this time of pressure.
§ COLONEL GILPIN
said, he did not join in the hon. Member's objection to the cost of barracks, for if we had a large number of troops in the country they were better in barracks than anywhere else; but he would ask whether any arrangements had been made, since last year, for the better accommodation of married men in barracks? He called attention to this subject last year, and was then told it should receive full consideration, but he was sorry to see that the same disgraceful system still existed. He saw no reason why rooms should not be set apart for married people, and a provision made for enclosing such a space for each couple as was necessary for convenience and decency. He did hope that this subject would be attended to; he was sure the public would not object to any reasonable expense to remedy so great a grievance. We were attempting now to model cottages and lodging houses, 151 and it should not be said that the barracks were the only dwellings in which common decency could not be observed.
§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
said that, in referring to the charge for hospitals, he had read that day in a newspaper some excellent suggestions about having floating hospitals. We knew that at Scutari and Balaklava the hospitals were crowded; and we had many large old ships, which might be sent out under jury masts, and conveyed by steamers, to become floating hospitals, with only men enough on board to keep them clean, and with a staff of nurses and surgeons. A ship could easily be ventilated when at anchor, and might be towed to another place when the patients became convalescent, to give them change of air.
§ MR. MASTERS SMITH
said, he strongly advised that care should be taken for the better ventilation of hospitals; and recommended that the museum of anatomy and natural history at Fort Pitt should be better supported than it had been.
said, he would like to know where the hon. Member would get his 10,000 soldiers? Why, they were not in existence.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he thought the name of "huts" had rather misled the hon. Gentleman; those huts were in fact wooden barracks, which were so constructed that if they were taken proper care of they would last twenty years; and there was great want of larger accommodation for the army and militia, especially in Ireland, and also in this country; and unless it were provided, there was no possibility of getting rid of those inconveniences to which the hon. Member for Bedfordshire (Colonel Gilpin) had alluded, and which he agreed in considering most objectionable.
§ MR. MONSELL
replied, that labourers were so employed. As for the soldiers, most of them, being fresh recruits, were so 152 much occupied in learning the goose step that they could not be employed in building their huts at present.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also the next Vote.
§ (3) 1,117,833l. Ordnance Military Corps. Allowances and contingencies of ordnance corps.
§ (4) 1,406,883l. Commissariat and Barrack Supplies.
said, that the sum specified for warm and waterproof clothing, in addition to the money already voted for that purpose, made up a very large amount.
said, he did not approve of voting 90,000l. for clothing the foreign legion, which existed only in the air at present, or in the imaginations of the Government. As for the great coats supplied to the army, there never was anything more infamous than their quality; nor was it to be surprised at, with the price paid for them, that they fell to pieces so soon. The cloth was the very worst kind of baize, and they were quite useless to the men. He wished to know if they had been surveyed before they were taken into store? If any gentleman in the Ordnance department had surveyed them, he ought to be dismissed; if not, the Ordnance had committed a great neglect. It was a most disgraceful fraud.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he took very much the same view of the unfitness of the great coats as the hon. and gallant Member for Marlow; they were not at all what they ought to have been. But the fact was, that it was thought desirable to get the lightest possible article, that the soldier should have the less weight to carry. He believed they had been properly surveyed, and were according to pattern; and there was, consequently, no ground to charge any one with fraud.
§ LORD WILLIAM GRAHAM
said, what he had to complain of was, that the shell jackets served out to the militia in Scotland were without lining, to save a shilling a jacket; and wore out very soon, so that the militia recruits had the expense of lining them.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, he wished to know if the great coats were waterproof? The very lightest material might now be made waterproof. He also wished to know if any provision was made for great coats similar to those hung up in the sentry-boxes in other countries. He had noticed that during the late severe weather the 153 sentries appeared in their red coats, and put on their great coats when the weather changed for the better. He believed that the great coats were reserved for night duty, but he thought the better plan would be to have a great coat hung up in the sentry-box so that the sentinel might wear it when necessary.
said, he hoped the attention of the Government would be directed not only to the quality of the clothing, but also to the manner in which it was made up. He believed that the sum paid for making a great coat was from 6d. to 10d. only. He also regretted to see that the soldiers who had returned from the Crimea, wounded and sick, had not been supplied with new clothing.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, if it were intended to furnish great coats to the militia, he thought it would be better that Government should furnish them, as they did to the regular army, rather than the colonels of the regiment. He wished to know, also, whether the Master General of the Ordnance (Lord Raglan) was still receiving the salary attached to the office?
§ MR. E. BALL
said, he was not a military man, but he thought it was a shame that British soldiers should be clothed in coats which cost only 6½d. to make, and which had been described as resembling a sieve through which the water could run. It was an abominable thing to vote such enormous sums of money for clothing our brave fellows in such a scandalous way.
said, he could bear testimony to the fact that, until recently, the cloth supplied to all the regiments, except a few favoured ones, was of the very worst description.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that it had been stated that the boots sent out to the Crimea were generally too small for the men. Some time ago on visiting a contractor's shop, he saw some boots, which he was told was going to the Crimea. On his remarking that they appeared to him too small, the answer given was that there were three sizes, and that those which he saw were the smallest. He observed, too, that these boots had no nails in them; and Gentlemen who were in the habit of walking much in the country would bear him out in the statement, that without nails in the boots or shoes it was impossible to walk comfortably. On his remarking in the shop that the boots in question had no nails, the contractor said to him, "The subject has been maturely considered. I 154 can assure you that these boots have been sat upon by a Committee of general officers who have declared that when they served in Canada, the climate of which resembled that of the Crimea, they never wore nails in their boots." Probably it was so long since these gentlemen were in active service that they had forgotten whether their boots had nails or not.
said, there was another defect in the boots supplied besides the want of nails; namely, that they were so badly stitched and put together, that in a very short time the sole came away from the body of the boot. What he (Mr. Miles) rose for, however, was to seek for some information with regard to the clothing of foreign regiments. There were items in the Estimates which had special reference to a foreign legion, and as he was informed that not a man had been enrolled under the Bill on that subject, he wished to know whether the Turkish contingent was to be regarded as the foreign legion. At present the foreign legion was purely imaginary, which he trusted that the Turkish contingent was not. The Committee could not be expected to vote 90,000l. for the clothing of a force which did not exist.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, the Vote was proposed in the expectation that the imaginary force would become a real one. Of course if it did not become so, no money would be spent. The Turkish contingent was a different matter altogether.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, for the circumstance of the boots being without nails he was not at all responsible, as that article was not supplied by the Ordnance, but by the army clothier.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (5) 303,149l., Establishments at Home and Abroad.
§ SIR JAMES ANDERSON
said, he wished to know why the barrack establishments at home were not made more available for the lodging of the militia. A few days ago the Stirlingshire militia were billeted on the inhabitants, although there were very few troops in Stirling Castle; and much dissatisfaction was felt on the subject in the neighbourhood.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he concurred with his hon. Friends, that it was highly desirable that, wherever it was possible, the militia should be in barracks. When they were called out, it was intended that they should be so quartered; and that was one reason why they were not called out earlier. At first the Government called out only such a proportion of the militia as they thought could be lodged in barracks.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also the next Vote.
§ (6) 368,872l. Wages.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding 2,792,348l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Ordnance Stores for Land and Sea Service, which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1856.
said, he would recommend the hon. Gentleman, after the expression of opinion upon the 15,000l. Vote, not to divide the Committee; but he must complain that the Government had not had the courtesy to state what progress had been made with the building, and when it was likely that some arms would be produced.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, that he hoped to be able to commence the manufacture about the beginning of July. A great portion of the American machinery had already arrived, and the building would soon be completed.
§ MR. H. HERBERT
said, he wished to call attention to the fact that the Irish Militia were without arms, and in corroboration of the fact he would state a circumstance which had occurred in his own county. Not having received any printed forms, his regiment had sent a requisition for arms to the Quarter Master General in Dublin, in manuscript. That officer sent it back to the general of the district, stating that the requisition ought to have gone through him (the general of the district), and that he could take no notice of any that was not printed. The general of the district, therefore, transmitted it to him (Mr. Herbert). He had to send to London for a printed requisition to apply for arms; and the consequence was that two months had passed by, and the regiment had not got a single musket. In the mean time the general of the district had ordered his 156 regiment to supply men for sentry duty, and they were actually keeping sentry with sticks in their hands. Though a shillalagh might be a national weapon, and might be very effectively employed at times, yet he thought that a limited supply of "Old Brown Bess" would be desirable.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he hoped, if the Vote were passed, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government would take immediate steps to assure the gunmaking trade that he did not intend to supersede them; otherwise the Vote would do more to shake their confidence than anything that could be done.
said, he wished to put a question relative to the hammered-iron ordnance. Experiments had been directed to be made, and he, as a soldier, interested in the question, wished to know whether any report had been made on the subject? He wished also to know, whether any report of the experiments under the superintendence of Colonel Simmons had been made?
§ MR. MONSELL
replied, he should have no objection to lay the Report on the table when it was received, but at present it had not yet been made.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he hoped the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire) would not insist upon reporting progress, but take the discussion on the Report.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, he was only anxious to have the subject discussed, and, on the understanding that another opportunity would be given for that purpose, would withdraw his amendment.
said, he must contend that this was not a mere Birmingham question, but one affecting the country at large. The gun trade formed a very small fraction of the trade of Birmingham, and it was not on account of the supposed interests of Birmingham, but because he believed the Government could not provide themselves so well with arms as private manufacturers could do, that he was opposed to the Vote.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, there existed a misapprehension that an account of the Resolution come to by the Small Arms Committee last year, the Government had been prevented from obtaining as large a supply of arms as otherwise they would have done, but he believed that, had the Vote been carried last year, it would have 157 been impossible to establish the manufactory in time to provide the necessary supply of arms.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly right in his conclusion. It would have been impossible for Government to manufacture the arms required in any circumstances.
Motion made, and Question put—
That a sum, not exceeding 2,752,348l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Ordnance Stores for Land and Sea Service, which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1856.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 24; Noes 110: Majority 86.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Vote agreed to; House resumed.
§ The House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock.