§ MR. LAYARD,
who had given notice of a question with respect to the accuracy of a return on the subject of masters in the navy presented to the House in March last, said that he had a small grievance against the Admiralty to which he wished to direct attention. It had nothing to do with the memorable events of Wednesday last, because he had too much experience of the Admiralty to venture out to Spit-head under their guidance. His grievance was the refusal of an act of justice to a meritorious branch of the public service. Last year he called attention to the case of the masters of the Royal navy, whose lives were exposed to every danger, and who were responsible for the navigation of the vessel and for everything that occurred connected with it. Notwithstanding their arduous and meritorious services, those officers had no means of being promoted until an Order in Council was issued which enabled the Admiralty to make them Lieutenants and Commanders. Since the issue of that Order in Council he (Mr. Layard) was anxious to know what had been done in the way of promoting any of those officers; and he, therefore, moved for a return upon the subject. No sooner did that return appear than he received a vast number of letters, complaining of the gross inaccuracies which it contained. Those who had most distinguished themselves had been omitted from it altogether, while the services of others, of a very high order, had only been mentioned in an indifferent manner. Mr. Ball for example—one of the most meritorious officers of this class—took the Penelope off the rocks under a very heavy fire; but his name, although in the despatches, did not even appear in the return. Mr. Williams, again, of the Miranda, was distinguished throughout 1534 the whole of the Baltic campaign; he navigated the Miranda in the White Sea, and when compelled by the season to leave there he went into the Black Sea, and buoyed the sea of Azof. That gentleman's services were described in the return as "operations in the White Sea." He (Mr. Layard) confessed that he was indignant, when he saw men, who had done so much for their country, disposed of in such a way. He supposed that some unfortunate clerk would be made the scapegoat for this inaccurate return; and, in fact, he had heard that a supplemental return was to be presented. If he could direct the attention of the House to the subject, and could obtain justice for the meritorious officers to whom he had referred, he should be satisfied.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, he must beg the hon. Gentleman not to forget the private explanation upon this subject which he (Mr. Osborne) had given him; because, before the hon. Gentleman had called his attention to it, a mistake had been discovered at the Admiralty; and though the hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to cut the ground from under his feet by stating that some unfortunate clerk would probably be made the scapegoat, he (Mr. Osborne) should not lay the blame upon any such person. The error had occurred through the inadvertence of a gentleman at the head of a department, who had been recently appointed, and who was so anxious to furnish the Return that he failed to compare the despatches with the Returns. That gentleman had received a very severe "jobation" before the hon. Gentleman mentioned the subject to him (Mr. Osborne); and when the hon. Gentleman said that a supplemental Return was promised, the fact was that it had been ready seven days ago, and that if anybody were to blame for its non-appearance, it was the printer. He had informed the hon. Gentleman who was so desirous of making captious criticisms on the Admiralty, privately, on his honour, that it was a mistake. The hon. Gentleman knew that—he knew it a week ago; and under the circumstances he (Mr. Osborne) could not admire the spirit which dictated such an attack as had just been made at a moment when the Admiralty was perhaps a little unpopular.