§ House in Committee of Supply. Mr. MASSEY in the Chair.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
Sir, it needed not the observations of the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) nor those of the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes) to convince me of the great responsibility which rests upon my shoulders in presenting this year to the House Estimates for the navy larger than those which were voted last year by upwards of a million, and within one million and a half of the highest Estimates during the late war with Russia; therefore in asking, on the part of the Government, the Committee to vote so vast a sum of money, it behoves me to show the necessity for keeping up our largo armaments, and continuing, certainly (luring the present year, our great system of construction of ships. I believe it will be conceded by all that, apart from the consideration of the navies of other nations, it is absolutely necessary that England, with her numerous Colonies and her enormous commerce, should maintain upon the seas a considerable number of vessels. Even supposing, therefore, that every other European Power were suddenly to disarm, and to lay up its vessels in its ports, we should still be obliged, for the police of the seas, to maintain a largo force afloat. So that, no matter what may take place in the way of disarmaments, such as those which have been alluded to by other Powers, nothing of the kind would justify us in adopting a like course. Such, then, is one consideration to which importance ought to be attached when we discuss the Navy Estimates year by year. It is not my intention upon the present occasion to enter upon the history of the past. I shall confine my observations to the present, and as far possible to professional subjects, avoiding all matters of high national policy. Over and above the question of the maintenance of squadrons for the protection of our Colonies and the police of the seas, we must, of course, consider what is the condition of other countries with respect to their navies; for, be it remembered, the steam navy is a new creation. It is the product of the last decade. All nations have recently started fair. A few years ago we had a vast number of line-of-battle ships and frigates, and by turning out a certain number of new vessels every year, and 966 patching up old ones, we managed to maintain our superiority at sea. But a change took place, and suddenly we found ourselves upon an equality with the rest of the world. It behoves us then, immediately to set to work to regain that superiority, of which the introduction of steam has temporarily deprived us. Let me, in the first place, as an important point for our consideration, give the Committee some idea of what other nations really possess. There is, happily, no longer any mystery in these matters. I rejoiced when the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Pakington) gave us last year the fullest information about our own and foreign navies, and shall follow his example. I may also state that foreign nations have no sort of hesitation in showing us their dockyards. An idea at one time prevailed that the French did not like us to state publicly in Parliament the extent and composition of their navy. Only two years ago, in anticipation of a discussion in this House, and knowing there was some little difference of opinion as to the amount of the French force, I wrote to the French Minister of Marine, asking whether he would have any objection to give me a list of the French Navy. He sent me, in reply, the name and force of every ship in the navy. What I am about to state, therefore, need excite no apprehension, as being likely to give the least offence to other nations. I begin with France. The French Navy is really becoming very powerful. At the present time the French have 32 ships of the line afloat and 5 building; 34 frigates afloat and 13 building; 5 iron-cased ships— of which class of vessels I shall have occasion to speak presently—building; 17 corvettes afloat and 2 building; 39 gun-boats afloat and 29 building; 5 floating batteries afloat and 4 building; 31 transports; 86 avisos afloat and 3 building. All these are steam vessels; and they make an aggregate of 244 afloat and 61 building. We have reason to believe from the best information we have received that most of those which are building might be launched within a few months, but I confine the force at the immediate disposal of the French to 244 ships. It is true that if any gentleman were to inquire at the French Admiralty he would be told that they had only 9 ships of the line at sea, the rest being in reserve; but we should never lose sight of the fact that every one of those 244 vessels could be manned and sent to sea in a very few weeks. "Ships 967 in reserve" is a very good term for the French, and I do not quarrel with it, but according to our view those ships are perfectly ready. The result is, therefore, that the French have 244 steam vessels which, if hostilities were to break out, which God forbid!—and we have indeed, every reason to believe that no such eventuality will occur—could be manned and sent to sea within a very few weeks, some of them within a few days. But there is another Power which is making great struggles to create a steam navy—I mean Russia, and really in our consideration of this subject, I do not think this fact has been brought before the House with sufficient prominence. We are informed, upon very good authority, that the Russians have 9 ships of the line afloat—steam ships like those of France—and 9 building; 18 frigates afloat, and 3 building; 10 corvettes afloat, and 11 building; 30 small vessels, of which we do not exactly know the force, afloat; 112 gun-boats afloat, and 25 building; 8 transports. The total is 187 steam vessels afloat, and 48 building. That is a very formidable navy, and should be taken into consideration when we are discussing what amount of force we ought to maintain at sea. England, as is well known, has of late years been endeavouring to form reserves at a vast expense. First of all, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) established the continuous service; then we had Coast Volunteers; and now we have what are called the Royal Naval Volunteers. Up to the present time the last-mentioned scheme has not been very successful. I mention this subject now, instead of waiting until I refer to our own force, in order to show the distinction between ourselves, who really have, so to speak, no reserves, and the French and Russians, who have vast bodies of men at their immediate disposal. I am obliged to say that before stating the force which we have in commission, and which, according to my calculation, is that which may fairly be compared with what the French have afloat. The distinction between the fleets of the two countries is this—that while all the French ships which are afloat can be manned at very short notice, it is only those which we have in commission which are in a similar position. Some little novelties are introduced year by year into the Estimates, and at page 13, this year, hon. Members will find the exact number of ships in commission on the 1st December last. On the 1st of 968 December last we had in commission the following steam ships—I exclude sailing vessels altogether—line-of-battle ships, 27; frigates, 43; sloops, small vessels, and gun-boats, 94; total, 164, being an increase of 46 vessels as compared with the number of steam-ships in commission on the 1st of December, 1858. In addition, we had the 10 coastguard-ships, the coastguard tenders and cruisers, all steam vessels, making a total of 244 steam ships in commission. Since that date we have commissioned 1 line-of-battle ship and 2 frigates. This, then, is the force you must compare with the French and Russian Navy, and I do not think that can be called anything like an undue or improper amount of naval power for this country. Of this force we have for the defence of our own shores, including with the permission of my gallant Friend the Member for Southward (Sir C. Napier) the Mediterranean squadron, the following:—27 line-of-battle ships, 14 frigates and corvettes, and 29 sloops and gun-boats; total, 70, which is a very respectable force. Of the 27 line-of-battle ships 14 are now at home, and 13 in the Mediterranean. In addition to this force we, have the 10 coastguard-ships, which are very useful for the defence of our harbours, and 17 or 18, or sometimes 20, tenders, gun-boats, and cruisers attached to them. In China, we have at this moment 14 frigates and corvettes, and 41 sloops and gun-boats; total, 55 vessels. We have, upon other stations, some at Vancouver's Island, some on the North American station, and some at other places, 3 line-of-battle ships, 19 frigates and corvettes, and 32 sloops and gun-boats; total, 54. This is the force which we have to oppose—God forbid that I should use that word as though any opposition was likely to occur—this is the force which we maintain at sea in comparison with the forces of France and Russia. I now will give the list of our entire Steam Navy. We have of line-of-battle ships 48 afloat, and 11 building, (and we expect within the next month to launch two of the latter which will make 50 afloat by the end of the financial year), besides 12 sailing line-of-battle ships fit for conversion. Of frigates we have 34 afloat and 9 building or converting; and likewise 6 sailing frigates fit for converting; steam block-ships, 9 afloat; iron-cased vessels, 4 building; corvettes 16 afloat, and 5 building; sloops, 45 screw and 35 paddle, total 80 afloat and 15 building; small vessels, 27 afloat; gun-boats, 969 169 afloat and 23 building; floating batteries, 8 afloat; transports, troopships, tenders, yachts, &c, screw 18, paddle 43, total 61; screw mortar-ships, 4 afloat; total afloat 456, building 67. Supposing the Committee is pleased to consent to these Estimates, we hope to add to the navy, before the end of the next financial year, 8 line-of-battle ships, 12 frigates, 4 iron-cased ships, 4 corvettes, 15 sloops, and 23 gun-vessels and gun-boats. That includes the conversion of 4 line-of-battle ships and 4 frigates. With regard to the Estimates generally, before I turn to the particular Votes, I wish only to state to the Committee that they will find that the great increase arises upon three Votes, those referring to the number of men, the building of ships, and the transport of troops. This expenditure under the latter head is very large, but I hope it is of a temporary and special nature, consequent upon the hostilities with China. I do not enter into the question as to the policy of those hostilities, but I think that, under the circumstances, it is right for the Admiralty to present an Estimate which will be adequate to the performance of the services that may be required. I will now ask the Committee to turn to Vote No. 1 upon which there is an increase of no less than £410,000 over the Vote of last year, in order to give us the power of augmenting our numbers by 11,700 men and boys, of which number we propose to add to the fleet 8,000 seamen, 1,000 marines, and 2,000 boys (this last addition being in accordance with the recommendation of the Royal Commission as to the establishment of training ships), 100 additional Coastguards-men afloat, and 600 ashore. The Coastguards-men on shore are to replace the old Custom House civilians, who are being superannuated. The Board of Admiralty have given to the question of the number of men required the most serious consideration, and that which has been asked for is only enough to man the ships in Commission, and to carry out another recommendation of the Royal Commission, that we should maintain a reserve of seamen in our own ports. We hope we shall be enabled to keep up a force at sea according to the numbers I have mentioned, perhaps with some little increase here and there, as well as a reserve of seamen in our home ports; and in addition we hope to be able to maintain a body of marines not less than 6,000 as a home force.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
We hope to have a reserve of 10,000 men over and above what are employed on active service. Of course it is impossible to say exactly what will be the force available, but it is the desire of the Admiralty to carry out the recommendation of the Royal Commission, that there should be a considerable reserve of seamen in the home ports, and available for an emergency. In connection with Vote No. 1, we propose to increase the pay of the masters, engineers paymasters, and chaplains of the Royal Navy. Last year, my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir J. Pakington) proposed what has given very general satisfaction in the navy, an increase in the pay of the surgeons of the navy. It was a great misfortune, however, that he overlooked the claims of officers of equal social position. There are three other classes of officers who labour under the same disadvantages as the surgeons—that is to say, to whom the higher ranks of the service are practically, if not absolutely closed. Masters may rise, but not engineers or paymasters. A very strong reason why we should improve the position of the assistant and second masters is to be found in the scarcity of these officers which the Navy List exhibits. They are men of great respectability and high education, and they naturally prefer the merchant service to the navy. If the pay in the latter service be inferior, the same remark holds good of the engineers, who do not care to give up the higher pay which they get in the merchant service to come into the navy. As to paymasters, there is no difficulty in procuring them, but they are in the same social position, and it is impossible to leave them out of view in framing the scheme. The proposal of the Government is that there should be a small increase of pay to each of those classes. The change will consist chiefly in putting them in a higher position, with their present pay,— which is calculated on length of service— that is to say, they will be allowed to count the time they have been second masters, and so on with the paymasters and engineers. It is also proposed they should have the advantage of counting the time during which they have acted before we have confirmed their present rank, and also part of the time they have been assistants, which will be a great boon to these officers. If 971 Her Majesty should sanction the arrangement, I will lay it on the table. The cost of this increase will be only some £25,000. I do not know that the scheme will give unbounded satisfaction. Some of the parties concerned may think it a rather niggardly advance, but it is all the Government think it right to propose. The item for good-conduct pay to petty officers is very much the same as last year. There is one large item not in the present estimate which was very considerable in that of last year; I mean the half bounty. The charge for seamen's clothing, tobacco, and soap, £380,502, is very large this year, even though £274,594 it is assumed will be repaid by seamen in the course of the year; and I had some doubt whether it ought to fall entirely on the present Estimate, or be in part provided for in that of last year. The enormous addition to the fleet, and the gratuitous issue of clothing exceeded the calculations of the comptroller; and our store being exhausted, this large item required to be taken. It makes a large increase in the Estimate, but will not be a permanent charge. The Vote for victualling depends, of course, on the number of men, and needs no further explanation. In the third Vote, that for the Admiralty, there is an increase to the amount of £14,323. I have received from the Accountant-General of the Navy a very curious statement as to the amount of the cost of the management and superintendence of the Admiralty since 1821 to the present time, year by year, which shows very clearly that we are much harder worked now than our predecessors used to be. In 1821 the Navy Estimates amounted to £6,382,785; yet the superintendents of the Admiralty and Navy Boards, which were then separate, consisted of not less than thirty-four people—seven Lords, eighteen Commissioners, and nine Secretaries. The Estimates for the present year amount to £12,802,000, or more than double those of 1821; and the superintendents of the Admiralty consist of only thirteen persons, namely, six Lords, two Secretaries, and five principal officers. On referring to the accounts of 1821, I find that the establishment of clerks was then about as numerous as now. The cost of the establishment of the Lords, the Secretaries, the principal Officers and the Clerks of the Admiralty was £123,986 in 1821, against £97,308 at the present time; so that while we have a navy of double the amount, the comparative cost is as I have stated; but there are 972 several items of expenditure over and above what I have stated in Vote 3; for instance the Judicial Department, and other miscellaneous items; one item of increase in this Vote is in consequence of the Board Order which was made at the time when the right hon. Baronet was at the head of the Admiralty. It provides that the Director of the Works Department shall no longer be charged with Vote 11, but that the expenditure shall be shown under the heads of each establishment; and I believe it is a very good arrangement. Another, is the employment of a considerable number of temporary clerks. I should also mention, that as there is such a vast amount of business in the Surveyor's, or as he is now called, the Comptroller's, Department, it is absolutely necessary to give him some assistance, and I believe it will be a positive matter of economy. The fact is, that this officer who superintends the dockyard expenditure, and who really ought to be constantly going into the dockyards, overlooking the construction of ships, and alterations taking place, is kept a prisoner in his office by the vast amount of business which he has to do. The matter has been much considered, and my noble Friend the Duke of Somerset has gone into the Report of the Committee on Dockyard Economy; and his Minute, which will be shortly in the hands of Members, alludes to this subject, and presents many suggestions and remarks, which will be found to be very valuable. Having given some attention to the question of the payment of the men in the dockyards, I must admit that it is fraught with difficulties. Whether to pay the men by day labour, whether by task or job; whether their earnings are to be unlimited, and whether they are to work extra time, are all matters of vital importance. The question involves the expenditure of millions of the public money, and therefore it has been considered very carefully by the Admiralty. But I am bound to say that, when the hon. Member who has given notice of such a Motion proposes an inquiry, he will not find any great opposition on the part of the Admiralty. In the meantime it will be our business to reform wherever we can. We shall not wait for the Report of that Committee to carry out improvements which we think are to the advantage of the service, but we shall really look forward to that inquiry with a considerable amount of interest. It is not that we consider the Dockyard Committee has not done its duty. They have made 973 many most valuable suggestions, and some of them we have already carried out. With regard, for instance, to the entry of apprentices, we have taken steps to improve that system, and various other details upon which I will not dilate. We still think, however, that there is a feeling on the part of the country that we do not get the value for our money. With that feeling existing it is wisdom, both on the part of Government and of Parliament, to forward by every means an inquiry which may be thought necessary. If, on the one hand, it shall be found that the present system works well, no man will rejoice more than I shall, or more than, I am sure, will the right hon. Baronet. But if any method can be found of constructing men-of-war—always bearing in mind that they must be built with reference to the proper seasoning of timber and the other various requirements peculiar to themselves at a less expense—I boldly and honestly say, it will be the duty of Her Majesty's Government to give every possible assistance in making that discovery. There is no material increase in Vote 4, for the Coastguard. We take, it will be observed, the same amount for the annual retainers, conduct-money, &c, for the Naval Reserve, as we did last year. This new force, to which the country looks with so much anxiety, has certainly up to the present time not fulfilled the expectations which were raised. I always felt, from the first, that it was an experiment. I know what seamen are. They are fine, noble, hearty creatures, but men of remarkably suspicious character, and if there are any people they are suspicious of, it is the Admiralty. We are really much indebted to the Board of Trade for the exertions which they have made in drawing up the regulations and giving us their assistance to carry out the measure. I wish I could state to the House that the men were entering freely; but they are not. They are labouring under some delusion. Captain Brown reports from the different merchant ports that the men say, "We think the inducement very fair. We think it very handsome; but they only want to kidnap us. The moment we put our names down they will send us off to China." It is very curious to see men labouring under that delusion. I have been asked over and over again by directors of the great shipping companies, and by men of importance in the commercial ports, for some assurance on the part of the Government 974 that the men will not be called out until war is declared. I told them I could not give that assurance, but I also told them that it was perfectly certain there was no intention to call them out, except in the event of a critical emergency. Such a case as ought to make Englishmen Sock to their colours; that the threat of immediate hostilities, or of something which would oblige us to make the greatest exertions for the protection of our shores, were the only circumstances under which the Government would call for their services. If I can reassure them by what I say tonight, I really believe little more is wanting to induce them to flock to the force. It is so far satisfactory that they are beginning to get over this extraordinary idea. I wish to declare to them that Her Majesty's Government have no sort of intention to kidnap them into the navy. And perhaps I had better add a more practical assurance—that if we wished we could not enter them in the navy, because the number is complete, and except for casualties we have no means of entering any considerable number of men over and above what we have at present. I think that is a very satisfactory state of things, and that the House will be glad to hear there is no difficulty in getting men. This vast force of ships, only the creation of the last few months, is wholly manned. [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON: How much has the bounty been reduced?] The bounty has been reduced to £4 for able, and £2 for ordinary seamen. I will not enter into the question of the propriety of the bounty. The bounty has been given, and all the men are enjoying it. They are now in that respect on the same footing as the army, and we can raise the bounty to-morrow without committing any injustice to the men already in the service. Her Majesty's Government have not come to any decision upon the subject generally. It is a small sum—only £20,000 out of the millions we vote for the navy. It is a gift on entering the service which enables the men to purchase clothes and other articles, and it is a question whether it is not advisable to continue it. At present it is only in force until the 31st of March next. Upon Vote 5, for the scientific branch, there is a small increase, in which I think the House will be disposed to agree. The charge is for the purchase of chronometers. The House will scarcely credit that up to this time officers in command of ships have been obliged to buy their own chronometers, 975 and it really is a scandal to the service that we should have cast this burden upon officers, many of them gentlemen of but slender means, who have enough to do to pay their way. Line-of-battle ships, frigates, and troop-ships will have three, sloops two, and gun-boats one. Vote 6 is for Her Majesty's establishment at home; and on this Vote I am going to ask the House to agree to an inconsiderable increase to permit the employment of two assistant superintendents at the great yards of Portsmouth and Plymouth. What I have said about the Comptroller of the Navy is doubly true with regard to the Superintendents of these two great yards. One of the great reasons, I have always thought, why we hear of idling in the dockyards, and of there not being as much activity there as there ought to be, arises from the constant confinement of the Superintendents to their offices, instead of being about the dockyards detecting idleness and punishing misconduct. Their principal business is to write letters—and I put it to the House whether that is a proper occupation for such officials. If you want economy you must not stint your Superintendents. You must enable them to go about the dockyards and see that the men are not idling. The appointment of these two Assistant Superintendents may save thousands of pounds by keeping the men at work. The Admiralty have also thought it their duty to look into the whole question of the correspondence of the Superintendents and the clerical departments of the dockyards. I am afraid to tell the House the number of returns we asked for. Our table at the Admiralty is literally swamped with the dockyard papers, but we are endeavouring to go into this matter of returns with a view of suppressing such as are no longer necessary, and I trust that we may produce a great lessening of labour. It will be observed by the House that in all these yards additional temporary clerks are employed. We are quite aware of the growing evil of these temporary clerks. It has become a public inconvenience in these great establishments; but the House must remember that if you have additional workmen and additional ships in commission the work of the clerks is also increased in the same ratio. We propose to take into consideration whether some improvements may not be made in the establishment of the clerks with a view to lessening labour. No. 7 is the Vote for foreign yards, in which there is a small increase for increased business, principally at 976 Malta and the Mediterranean yards. On Vote No. 8, for artificers, my right hon. Friend opposite will, perhaps, find fault with me because we have reduced it somewhat. When the present Board of Admiralty came into office, we asked the House to agree to an addition of £100,000 on this Vote, over and above what the right hon. Gentleman had proposed. We did so because on reference to the Surveyor of the Navy he told us that if that £100,000 were not added to the Estimate, it would be impossible for him to complete the programme which the right hon. Gentleman had laid before the House. We asked the House, therefore, to agree to that £100,000; but we have now made such progress that the Government think it possible to revert to the same number of men as were employed when the right hon. Gentleman was at the head of the Board of Admiralty. This, therefore, is, in fact, not a decrease, but only knocking off the £100,000 which we took over and above the right hon. Gentleman's Estimate of last year. Vote 9 is the same as last year, with the exception of a small sum for the artificers of the fleet, who are allowed extra pay when they are employed in the dockyards ashore. Vote 10, for the repair and building of ships, I have always thought ought to bear the motto—Diruit, ædificat, mutat quadrata rotundis.There is, I confess, to my mind too much pulling to pieces, building up again, altering in every shape, in converting sailing ships into steamers. Looking narrowly into these alterations, I may differ somewhat from some of my colleagues as to the extent to which the conversion of ships ought to be carried. Because I am in office I am not going to retreat from the opinion which I expressed out of office. I greatly dislike these alterations. My opinion is that these old ships are not worth the time and money expended on them. In my humble opinion, it is like putting "new wine into old bottles." The two woods do not agree; they decay, and speedily become not worth the money you have laid out on them. If you cut a hole into one of these old ships and put an engine into it, it may be made very valuable for the defence of the country as a superior kind of block-ship, but I cannot agree in the propriety of lengthening them at the bows, cutting them in two, and so on. This Vote is composed of several items, but I cannot say that it gives any great detailed information. The items are large and the in- 977 formation small. The Board of Admiralty have anxiously considered this Vote, and they are most desirous of giving every possible information with regard to it. I should have liked to lay this Vote on the table very much in the same form as Vote 11, for Public Works, but the Admiralty laboured under very great difficulties with regard to it. I am very unwilling to impute blame to any one, but if I were to venture to impute blame to any one, it would be to the House of Commons, who have never really asked for any detailed information with regard to this great Vote No. 10. I am naturally told when I ask for information, "How can we give an estimate for a future year, when we really do not know what proportion of money we have expended during the past year on building, or on repairing, or on what particular ships it has been expended." The Board of Admiralty called on the Accountant General to give a return which, in consequence of its novelty, I will not vouch for, but which I believe will be pretty correct, and which I very much wish was now on the table of the House—of the cost of ships during the past year. That return, which is of a very interesting character, gives the name and the cost of every ship in the Royal Navy, during the past Financial year, under six different heads—namely, ships building, converting from sail to screw, maintenance of ships in commission, of the steam reserve, of old sailing ships in ordinary, and maintenance of the dockyard craft. The other items expended under this Vote are also shown. I do not say that the return is perfect, because it is a novelty; it has hitherto existed in the dockyards, but it has never yet been practically turned to account, and the items consequently have not been properly checked; in fact, it may be said that its present value is nil as compared with what it will be in future years. As the name of the dockyard is attached to each ship, building or converting, with the particulars of the amount of material consumed, the cost of labour and the outlay on her engines, the Admiralty will be at once enabled to refer to the cost of each vessel, and to compare it with the cost of similar vessels in the other yards. In all matters of account there is nothing like publicity, and I am persuaded that one great and immediate effect of this comparative view of the cost of ships, will be a direct tendency to economy in the several establishments. Take the case of a vessel 978 in commission—very few persons who have not turned their attention to that subject can form any idea of the cost to which the country is put by each additional line-of-battle ship. The public say, "Give us ten line-of-battle ships additional;" this return will give them an idea of the magnitude of the request. Within the last few days a gallant officer in command of one of Her Majesty's vessels, and an intimate friend of mine, called at the Admiralty, and in the course of conversation I showed him what his ship had cost during the past year, and he was absolutely thunderstruck. [Sir C. NAPIER: Such a return existed once before.] What has been done shows what is capable of being done, and I trust that if my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) succeeds to office, he will continue to require the same information. When two or three years have elapsed, we shall be able to place this Vote upon a much more intelligible and satisfactory footing by striking an average of the cost which this return will exhibit, and frame our estimate with proper details. I have shown the House what we possess in ships built; it will now be interested, probably, in knowing what we have constructed in tonnage, and what we propose to build during the present year. This is the best test, after all, of the exertions of the dockyards. It may possibly be remembered that, in proposing the Estimates last year, we announced our intention, of course subject to contingencies, of building 46,000 tons of shipping in the dockyards. [Sir J. PAKINGTON: Exclusive of conversions?] We said we would convert four line-of-battle ships and five frigates, in addition. What we have actually built amounts to 19,730 tons in ships of the line, 13,654 in frigates, 5,436 in corvettes, and 5,224 in sloops and gun vessels. We have not fulfilled our promise as to frigates, in which class I stated that we would build 16,000 tons, the reason being that there was an insufficiency of timber for the purpose; but we have made up for this deficiency in another way, for we have gone beyond our undertaking in the conversion of sailing, into steam frigates and screw ships. What we propose doing in the present, or, as my right hon. Friend reminds me, the ensuing financial year, is to build 13,216 tons of ships of the line, 13,500 tons of frigates, 4,871 tons of corvettes, 8,045 tons of sloops and gun vessels, and 302 tons of gun-boats, making a total of 39,934 tons. In addition we pro- 979 pose to convert four more line-of-battle ships and four frigates. It is necessary that I should afford some idea of the expenditure of timber that is required. Our ordinary establishments in the dockyards, which is regarded as two years' stock, consists of 60,000 loads of timber for shipbuilding purposes; but during the present financial year, instead of consuming the ordinary rate of 30,000 loads, we have used 64,000 loads of timber, the result of which has been that we have been literally unable to import timber with the same rapidity with which we were working it up. Of copper, also, it has been found exceedingly difficult to procure an adequate supply, for this last year we have consumed nearly 1,000 tons. Some discrepancy will be observed between Votes 8 and 10, which should bear a strict proportion to each other; but, having thus lessened our stock of timber, we this year require a larger sum by £81,000 on that account, and we do not increase the number of men in an equal ratio. It may not be uninteresting to the House to know what the French are doing in this respect. It is true that they have greater facilities for procuring timber than we have, but they have in stock 160,000 loads, or sufficient to build fifteen line-of-battle ships, fifteen frigates, and fifteen corvettes, which is a stock far above anything we have ever had in this country. The next item, for coals, also exhibits an increase, not only because we have a more numerous fleet, but because we were obliged to send a large stock to China. I pass to the next item, for the purchase of steam machinery, as to which the House would, doubtless, desire some information. We are building engines for line-of-battle ships to the extent of 5,700-horso power; for frigates, 7,100-borse power; other vessels and corvettes, 1,200-horse power; sloops, 3,000-horse power; gun-vessels, 1,200-horse power; gun-boats, 600-horse power—that is to say, a power in all equal to that of 18,800 horses. These cost £55 15s. each horse power. This is a very high price for machinery, no doubt. But if the Committee look carefully to the items that compose a steam engine for a man-of-war, they will agree with the Committee on Steam Machinery, who report that, regard being had to the difference between them, the Navy steam engines do not cost more than those of merchant vessels. They must have much spare gear, their engines must work in a small space, and they are in other respects very much more expen- 980 sive than those of the merchant service. I will now turn to the iron-cased ships which are building, and which have excited so much curiosity and interest. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir J. Pakington), hearing that they were building in France several of these vessels, thought it right to take a supplementary or special Vote—I think a supplementary Vote—for building two iron-cased frigates, one of which was ordered before the late Government quitted office. The right hon. Gentleman asked me, soon after the present Government came into office, whether the Admiralty were going on with the second frigate. I replied that the Board of Admiralty were carrying out certain experiments, and that if they were satisfactory the Admiralty would go on with the second frigate. Shortly afterwards the Admiralty ordered a second frigate to be built of the same dimensions as the first. These vessels are of enormous scantling and very large tonnage. The Warrior and the Black Prince are of 6,039 tons each, and 1,200-horse power. They will be entirely cased with iron, and I am one of those who believe that they will be vessels of a most formidable nature. And there will also be two of a smaller tonnage, 3,668 tons, which the Board of Admiralty have likewise contracted for, They will be iron-cased, and will have the same power of resisting shots, and the same capability of defence. The late Board ordered six sloops of 200-horse power and 12 gun vessels of 18-horse power. The present Board have ordered 10 gun-boats of 60-horse power, making the total cost during the present and future financial year that we are building by contract of £1,355,807. This sum, I ought to add, includes the machinery. It is an enormous sum, over and above what we are building in our dockyards. These are the principal items of Vote 10. We are very anxious to give every information on this Vote. We are duly sensible of the necessity of economy in building our ships, and we trust that the inquiry which is to be moved for by my hon. Friend on the labour in our dockyards will give us great assistance herein. At present the country is in the position of a very wealthy gentleman who has lived very generously, and has not called for his bills; who has been, in short, what is called a "fast man." If he determined to live economically for the future the first thing he would do would be to collect his accounts. That is the first pro- 981 cess for economizing these great dockyard Votes. We want to know the amount of cost and the value of stock, and then we shall look about us and see if we cannot reform. I now turn with pleasure to Vote 11 (new works, improvements, and repairs in the yards), for this is the only Vote for the effective service that shows a real reduction. I believe that we have taken every sum that is requisite for keeping our dockyards in really good repair, while at the same time we have avoided any now works except in a few cases, the Vote being mostly expended in completing the work of our predecessors. I used formerly to be of opinion that many of our now works were on too grand a scale, and I confess that my visits to the dockyards have confirmed my views. I accompanied my noble Friend (the Duke of Somerset) to Woolwich the other day, and we looked at a magnificent building, overtopping the Thames, and looking like some great palace. This was the new Marine Infirmary. We walked over it and paced its stately colonnades, and I am afraid we were both sordid enough to say that its architectural magnificence cost too much money. At Keyham the same remark had occurred to me. No doubt, there are great public buildings in our dockyards, all of them very necessary, but too much attention has, I think, in many cases been given to architectural design, and too much scope to the taste of our engineers. Now, the present Board of Admiralty disapprove greatly of any unnecessary expenditure of this kind, and when the architects and engineers of our yards have brought us remarkably tasteful designs for our approbation we have rejected them, and asked them to give us something more simple. I take some pride in having kept this Vote down, and I do not believe that any substantial work really required has been omitted. For instance, we are going on with a dock at Portsmouth, which was commenced some years ago, and we have taken a small Vote for that. The next Vote for Medicines and Medical Stores, shows a small increase, but not beyond what is necessary for the increase of the fleet. Vote 13, for the Miscellaneous Services shows an increase of £18,529, the reasons for which are shown in the Votes; and I now turn to Vote 14—the Half-pay Vote—to which I would ask the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Lindsay.) He is under the idea that the non- effective charge for the 982 navy is growing year by year, and is becoming so great a burden as to require looking into. But so far from that, the Half pay Vote fur the future year shows a decrease of £27,049, in spite of an increase which I am about to ask for in favour of certain classes of officers. This is, in fact, a yearly decreasing Vote, and in a few years, as the older officers give way to nature—[Admiral WALCOTT: Hear, hear!]—the Committee will remember my hon. and gallant Friend's eloquence on that subject—the burden will greatly diminish, I must now allude to the item of £12,000 as an additional charge for improving and altering the system of retirement of officers of the Royal Navy, with a view to the increased efficiency and reduction in the numbers of officers on the active list. The Admiralty has had under its serious consideration the rate of promotion among the junior ranks of the navy. It is not only an act of justice to the officers, but necessary to the efficiency of the fleet, that some measure should be taken which will enable the Board of Admiralty to promote officers in due time and prevent them, as it were, from rotting all their lives in one list. If a certain rate of promotion is not kept up, officers become indifferent and slack in their duty, and can no longer be depended on to exert themselves with zeal for the service. I believe there will be no difficulty in persuading the House to agree to this small sum. When we come to the consideration of the Vote itself I shall be prepared to state to the House the particulars of the plan, which will affect the ranks of lieutenants and commanders, and in some degree the captains. This is the only charge I need mention under this head, with one exception. We have at last succeeded in establishing pensions for the widows of warrant officers. I am convinced that no grant will be more appreciated by the navy; at present it is limited to £500, and that sum I may say, we have screwed out of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. All preceding Chancellors of the Exchequer have resisted the grant; but my right hon. Friend has conceded it, on the ground that it is just and right.
The last Vote to which I shall call the attention of the House is that for transport. It does not properly belong to the expenses of the navy; but the Admiralty has to provide all the means of ocean transport for the army. We have thought it right, in reference principally to the China expedition, to take for the pre- 983 sent year the large sum of £120,000 for the freight of ships on monthly pay, or for the purchase of them, besides the Vote for the conveyance of stores and troops. I may now close this lengthened statement. In doing so, I should belie my own feelings if I did not add that it is with extreme pain that I find myself compelled to be the instrument of proposing to take from the profitable industry of the country this vast sum of money for the Navy. But I am convinced that it is the wish of the people of this nation that their navy should be well and efficiently maintained; that the country should be under no alarm; that, whatever may happen, the people may be able to say, "We are safe under the protection of our navy." In a discussion on the defences of the country last year, some very valuable advice was given to the House by my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden). He thought that much of our naval force might with advantage be abolished; but there was one passage of his speech so marked by patriotism, and containing such sound and reasonable views, that I cannot help reading it to the House. I believe it cannot do better than follow the advice conveyed. The hon. Member for Rochdale said, "He did not wish to reduce our navy to the same force as that of France; but he should like to see the two Governments agree on some relative proportion of force; thus, the French navy might be two-thirds that of England; where the French had two ships, England might have three." If you examine the state of the French navy, you will find we have not surpassed what the hon. Member for Rochdale considered the necessary superiority of our navy over that of France. And, taking into consideration the strength of the Russian navy, I say we are bound to continue our exertions till we place our navy on a really sound and efficient footing. But I must also say, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, that though they have agreed to these very large Estimates, they do not consider themselves bound to expend them, should circumstances render a less amount sufficient. We thought it better to ask the House at once to grant a sufficient amount of money, and number of men, than to apply to it again with additional Votes and supplementary Estimates. But if the dispute with China should end peacefully, if the political horizon of the Continent, and throughout the world generally, should 984 appear favourable, the Government will not feel bound to spend the full amount of the Vote, because the House has generously granted it. I thank the House for the indulgence it has extended to the statement I have made; and I shall be glad to answer any question in reference to it.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That 85,500 Men and Boys be employed for the Sea and Coastguard Services for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1861, including 18,000 Royal Marines.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
When I took up the Navy Estimates for this year I certainly felt some curiosity to see how far the opinions the noble Lord expressed last year, as to the new form in which certain Votes, especially Vote 10, ought to appear on the Estimates, had been carried out. But I found Vote 10 on the paper wearing very much its old shape. Still, it is only just to the noble Lord to say that his statement has not only been very clear, but made with that openness and candour which I trust henceforward will always distinguish these addresses, and which indeed are nothing more than the House of Commons has a right to expect from the Government of the day. I rise principally for the purpose of asking explanations concerning some portions of the speech of my noble Friend. The Government has, I admit, asked the House for unusually large Estimates; but I do not think they are larger than circumstances require; and they prove a determination on the part of Her Majesty's Government to act in the same spirit as the late Ministry. It is the first duty of the Government of the day, as I believe it is the anxious desire of the country, to maintain the navy in a perfectly efficient condition. There is, no doubt, a great increase in the Estimates, as compared with former years: but I am willing to believe, on the authority of the noble Lord, that they are not larger than the necessity of the case requires. The great expenditure is of course caused by the large amount of men called for, and by the efforts made to increase the number of our ships. I am extremely glad to see by the return which was this morning put into our hands by the Admiralty, that the programme which I submitted to the House a year ago, on the part of the late Government, has been essentially carried out by out successors in office. It will be in the recollection of the Committee that in the programme of last year I announced the intention of the then 985 Government to add fifteen to the number of our line-of-battle ships, partly by building and partly by conversion, thereby increasing the number of effective screw line-of-battle ships from thirty-three to forty-eight. I see by the Return before me that that programme has been exactly carried out during the year. My noble Friend has stated that a considerable number more are to be added during the ensuing year; that we are to have at least eleven additional line-of-battle ships, which will raise the number from forty-eight to fifty nine. This leads me to an inquiry of some importance, and that is whether the present Board of Admiralty has arrived at any decision as to the number of line-of-battle ships they propose ultimately to have. This is a point to which I know the noble Lord the Secretary of the Admiralty has devoted much attention. He has repeatedly expressed the opinion in this House that we should give up the building of line-of-battle ships, that line-of-battle ships are comparatively useless, and that we should devote our attention to the building of other classes of ships. I could not concur with the noble Lord in the views he thus expressed. I never would be a party to any change of that kind till we had fully established the proper superiority of England in line-of-battle ships to all the other nations of Europe. But I may state that, so far as the late Board of Admiralty had considered this subject, we had—I will not say definitely arrived at the conclusion—but had entertained the opinion that if this country possessed sixty efficient screw line-of-battle ships, it would be so far satisfactory as to enable us to pause and deal with this great question. My noble Friend and all who are conversant with the subject will admit that there is strong reason to suppose we are approaching a time when it will become a question how far these line-of-battle ships are the most effective ships of the navy. Why, we have heard this day from my noble Friend, as a part of the plans of the late Government, carried out by the present Government, of the building of such ships as the Mersey and the Orlando on a system which introduces a new element into this question—ships of the same tonnage as the largest in the navy, and carrying not a great number of guns, but guns of the greatest power and calibre, and forming very formidable armaments. Then we have the changes going on in the manufacture of ordnance, and the construction of Armstrong guns, all which 986 fairly raise the question as to the limits within which we should confine the building of line-of-battle ships. I hope, however, that I shall not be misunderstood. Do not let us pause till we have fully established the superiority of this country in that description of ships. At the same time bearing in mind the great expense of building these ships, let us consider what will be the probable effect of the changes to which I have adverted. I should like to know, therefore, how far the Government are now laying down new ships of that class, and whether they have adopted any limit at which they may pause, and wait to see what the effects of the changes going on really are. Last year I promised, it will be recollected, nine screw frigates—five new, and four conversions in addition to the seventeen we then possessed, so that the total number of new frigates should amount to twenty-six. But I find that the present Board of Admiralty have hardly fulfilled that engagement, as the number of frigates in the present Return amounts to only twenty-five, which gives one less than we had promised. [Lord C. PAGET: There has been another frigate launched since the Return had been made up. I did not mean to allude to the subject in a tone of censure. The difference would in any case have been very trifling. I am glad to find that the programme of the late Government has been so nearly fulfilled, and I trust that by the close of the next financial year the navy of this country will be in a satisfactory position. Having made these remarks on the building of ships, allow me to say a few words on that heavy item which was the principal cause of the excess of outlay last year—the addition of men. I stated last year that we proposed an addition of 3,000 men; and subsequently we brought down supplementary Estimates for 10,000 men and marines. This was a large addition; but the noble Lord has announced a still further addition, and I am hound to assume that the proposal is made by the Government in consequence of the strong opinion they entertain of its necessity. I am, therefore, not disposed to make any complaint on the score of that addition. I am glad to find that the Admiralty have not lost sight of the recommendation of the Commissioners to keep up a reserve of a certain number of men in our ports; though I own I could wish that reserve amounted to more than 1200 men. My noble Friend brought something like a charge against 987 me with regard to the masters of the navy. He alluded to what I had done with regard to certain officers, but said I had overlooked the masters and other classes. That is not the case, for the late Government had it in contemplation to deal with the masters and those other classes to which he referred; and were only prevented carrying out their intentions, by circumstances which they could not control. I am therefore glad to find that the Government have taken up their case. My noble Friend also adverted to the Commission on Dockyard Labourers, and I trust he will take an early opportunity of stating what are' the intentions of Government with respect to the Report of that Commission. I did not clearly understand what fell from my noble Friend as to the office of the Controller of the Navy. Is there to be any change in the arrangements of that office? [Lord C. PAGET: Instructions are to be given of a more direct character for its regulation.] I am happy to hear that the attention of the noble Lord has been directed to this subject, as when in office I contemplated considerable changes in this department; but, whatever the alterations now proposed may be, I should like to have more definite information regarding them. I hope, concurrently with this change of title, there will be some ready adjustment of the duties of the office. I was also glad to hear what the noble Lord said with regard to apprentices in our dockyards. I trust that what he proposes will have the effect of improving this class of workmen, and checking that tendency to political jobbery, that has been under all Governments a source of great complaint and annoyance, and which I did all in my power to suppress. The evil complained of is a very serious one; and I hope the regulations in regard to apprentices will go a great way to check it. I will not enter into the question of "conversions;" but I cannot concur with the noble Lord in the views he has expressed. Take the case of frigates; many of them are very fine ships, and capable of rendering service in every respect but one —that they have no engines; if we can lengthen them, and put engines in, I think we shall render a great service to the country. I hope the noble Lord stands alone in his objections, and I am glad he has not had sufficient influence with the Board of Admiralty to induce them to adopt his views. My noble Friend expressed great pleasure in the reduction made in Vote 11, but I believe it is quite indispensable that this country should, within a very short period, em- 988 bark in a large expenditure for the improvement of our dockyards. I am convinced that you will be unable to keep up the navy, with due regard to economy and to the interests of the country, unless your dockyards are made more efficient than they are at present. For instance, take Chatham—[Lord C. PAGET.—We are taking 10.000L. with that view for Chatham.]—My noble Friend surely does not mean to say that £10,000 will be anything like sufficient for the purpose at Chatham. He only takes that sum to continue and carry out a previous arrangement, on which a considerable amount has already been expended, and to complete which a very much larger sum is required. If you intend to make Chatham a dockyard such as it ought to be, you must make up your minds to a much larger outlay. It only remains for me to allude to the two last subjects to which my noble Friend adverted—namely, the pensions for the widows of warrant officers, and the retirement of senior officers in the navy. With regard to warrant officers' widows, I always thought it most desirable to grant such pensions, but I was not so successful in carrying out my views in that respect as my noble Friend has been; and I congratulate him on achieving a success which I was unable to attain. With respect to the retirement of officers, that is a subject to which I am glad to hear the present Board of Admiralty have directed attention. There was no subject on which I felt more strongly when I left the Board, than the absolute necessity of adopting some improved mode of retirement, so as to remove that check to promotion, which has always been a matter of just complaint. I am glad that the present Board have directed their attention to the subject, and I shall wait with some anxiety to bear an explanation of their plan. I will only add, that in following my noble Friend, it affords me much satisfaction to be able to speak in the tone in which I have done.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
was glad to hear the noble Lord (Lord C. Paget) follow the example of his predecessor, and speak the plain and honest truth by giving an exact statement not only of our own navy, but also of those of France and Russia. He had shown that France had 244 vessels of every description ready for sea; Russia, 235; and England, 244. He had also told the Committee that France could man the whole of her ships with her reserves whenever she thought proper; and he (Sir Charles Napier) had seen it stated in a 989 Paris newspaper that France had not less than 90,000 men on whom she could at any time lay hands. Russia had always her fleet manned; England alone could not man her fleet—a state of things that was not very creditable to a great nation like England. He had worked for twenty years in and out of that House, in order to see the navy placed on a proper footing. He had been called an alarmist, and laughed at for many years on that account; but the country had at length adopted his views, and forced the present Government, as it did the last, to put the navy in a proper condition. With respect to the practice of conversion, he agreed with the late First Lord that ships could be converted with advantage. The Neptune, the Nelson, and others, which had been converted, had turned out remarkably well. He could not, however, agree in the propriety of cutting a hole in the stern of a ship without lengthening her. That course had been found by experience not to answer in the Edinburgh and Ajax. The Navy Estimates were certainly very large, but he believed the country would get the value of their money. The navy, as far as ships were concerned, was never in a better position than it was at present. But still the country must lay its account with building a new navy in the event of iron ships succeeding. Our great Ally was determined to have a large naval force, and was driving us on to build. He wondered the Government had not come to some understanding with him as to where all this was to stop. Between France and us it had become a matter of the longest purse, and he (Sir Charles Napier) was afraid that France was getting as great as ourselves. We had got ships, but what use were they so long as we had not men? It was melancholy to think that in this great maritime nation we could not raise an adequate reserve of seamen for the navy. There was quite a mania for rifle corps, but not 500 men could he got as a reserve. There must be some reason why the navy was so unpopular, and Parliament must try to get at the root of its being so. We ought always to have 10 line-of-battle ships afloat in the Channel; each of these, if first-rates, would have, as a full complement, 900 blue-jackets and 200 marines. Now, as they wanted soldiers, he would ask why they should not employ 100 of the marines of each vessel in that capacity, which would give them 1,000 men on shore, 990 doing military duty; but who would be ready at any time for transference on shipboard should their services be required. He would take away 100 marines in peace, and fill the ship up with 1,000 bluejackets. That would give 500 men on each watch; and in case of an emergency he would turn one watch over to another ship, and fill up with marines, whose places, as garrisoning the sea-ports, would be taken by that constitutional force, the militia. But more than that. What was to hinder them from separating the coast districts from the inland counties, and requiring them to furnish sailors as the inland districts did the militia? A reserve for the navy must be found somewhere or other, and as there was an enormous number of fishermen and of men whose occupation was looking out for wrecks along our shores, he should advocate the expediency of having recourse to a system of Ballot in our maritime towns, which should include the inhabitants of those districts. On the first appearance of war, the crews of these 10 ships of the line would man 20 of the same class, the difference being filled up with marines, landsmen, and the usual number of idlers, as they were called, such as cooks, stewards, and so on. But that was not all. There were the district-ships— not those abominable block ships—he hated the very name of them; but good ships, such as the Majestic and Colossus, that he was glad to hear were now fitting out to take the place of the block-ships. There were 10 of these ships that, in case of emergency, could be filled up with the Coastguard and the Coast Volunteers. This would give the country 30 sail of the line, and he did not believe that any country would attack us if they knew that we could send 30 sail of the line to sea in the course of forty-eight hours. But, then, it scented they did not know whether the Coast Volunteers would serve or not. He was told that the Coastguard men of Hastings went down by railway the other day to Sheerness, and that the men mustered very well. But why did not they send the Coast Volunteers at the same time? If they had done that, he supposed their wives and children would all have been up in arms against the Admiralty. The question, however, after all, was one of money. If £1 would not do it, they must try £2, or even £3, for a reserve would be cheaper than the present system of keeping up such a large fleet, He had now done with that subject, and he would come to the question of reserve. 991 He knew from the first that the system would never answer. The noble Lord complained that the men were suspicious, and he did not wonder; for the Admiralty were constantly breaking faith with the men. It was but the other day that the pensioners were promised, when they went on board ship, that those of them who had been petty officers should have the same rating now; and yet he had found that some of these old petty officers were now doing duty as able-bodied seamen. [Lord CLARENCE PAGET: The gallant Officer is quite mistaken. All the old petty officers have that rating when they go on board. Yes; but where there are no vacancies for petty officers, they are made to serve as common seamen. But he objected to the present plan of reserve altogether. They were giving £6 a year to men who had never done a stroke of work for the Queen. Besides, the terms were not sufficiently stringent. A reserve that was allowed to be absent for six months was no reserve at all. The course which he should pursue would be to leave to every seaman when his ship was paid off the option of being placed in the reserve or not, as he might think proper, allowing him to count two years towards his pension for every three years' service. At present the Admiralty had no means of knowing what men entitled to pensions had refused to take them. The Admiralty ought to know the number, and if it could once be made known that 4,000 men had entered the reserve, the intelligence would spread throughout the merchant service, and the reserve would soon be filled up. If the force could not be filled up with £6, then a calculation must be made whether it would not be cheaper to pay higher than to maintain a large force at sea. Another point which he must mention related to the Channel fleet, which the Admiralty did not seem to know how to manage when they got it. Some time since there was mutiny, or something like it. On board the Liffey there was a disturbance, shot rolled about, mess-traps broken, and other disorders. In that case the Admiralty did not take proper steps, but simply gave way, and the men gained their point. Something of the same sort happened on board the Hero on a question of leave. The complaint was, he thought, a just one. When ships were fitting out in harbour there was plenty of leave; but whenever a ship was out of harbour, she was sent to Portland where 992 the drills went on—a period most irksome to the men—and when the utmost indulgence should be granted. In that way the disturbance arose on board the Hero, and the Admiralty, instead of sending the squadron to sea, and sending her to the West Indies, allowed the men to remain the victors. In the Mediterranean, on board the flag-ship Marlborough, there was also a disturbance, and that was passed over. Then came the Princess Royal, the worst case of all. She came home from the Mediterranean, and, according to a very proper arrangement, another ship was ready, to which the crew was to be transferred; but there were three classes of men on board—the bounty men and the continuous-service men, upon whom the Admiralty had a claim, and those who had entered generally, upon whom they had no claim. When the captain left the ship the men cried out, "Pay off," and then the Admiralty ought to have sent a member of the Board down to inquire into the matter, but, instead of doing so, they gave way. The continuous-service men and the bounty men should have been sent on board the Queen, and the others should have been required to return the stores, which would have occupied them for three weeks, and then they should have been told that their services were no longer required. Then, when there was a ship launch, and the Queen came down, the men ought to have had leave from Saturday to Monday, but instead of that one-half had leave and the rest had not. That, of course, created dissatisfaction, and a cry of "All or none." The Admiral very properly said "None," but unluckily the liberty men had been landed and were taken back from the dockyard gates. It was an error to order those men back, although he would not say whose error it was. He must say, to the credit of the seamen, that it was not true that they had deserted in great numbers after taking the bounty, for he had seen a return showing that since bounty was given desertions had been fewer than before. Every one knew how easy it was for sailors to desert, but he did not think the Admiralty took proper means to punish desertion. He would punish every man, even with transportation, who took the bounty not intending to remain in the service. There was another evil in the service in respect to leave. When he was in Lisbon, he found that no leave was ever given there, but he granted leave to the men to go on shore. They got drunk as usual, and made rows, 993 and complaints were made to him, and he got the police of Lisbon to take up every drunken English sailor and put him into prison, the consequence of which was, that all complaints soon ceased, If the same thing were done at home for a short time, it would soon put an end to such misconduct. It might be said this could not be done in England, but they could station a guard-ship close to where the men landed, warn them, and if they broke their leave or behaved ill, place them on board as prisoners. There need be no difficulty in giving men leave, and getting rid of those irregularities which were subversive of all discipline. The men would thus also be made much more comfortable and happy than they were at present. There was another point to which he wished to advert. If a ship were paid off with the crew, it was attended with great expense; but if they were transferred to another ship directly, and the ship turned over to the superintendent of the dockyard to return her stores, the whole might be effected with more regularity and economy. He trusted the Admiralty would take steps to remedy all the evils he had pointed out; especially let them see that the men had leave at all times in moderation, and that they were punished if they behaved improperly—imprisoned if they got drunk ashore and behaved in a disorderly manner. A great deal had lately been done for seamen in giving them mess traps, allotments, and paying them once a month, and those now guilty of breaches of discipline ought to be severely punished. In the Baltic a disturbance broke out on board one of the ships of the fleet. He desired an inquiry to be made to see if there were any grievances, and, if so, that they should be redressed. Grievances were found to exist; they were redressed, and the evil did not extend, as it might have done, to other ships in the fleet. He had laboured long to have the navy put on a proper footing, and he would never rest satisfied till it was properly manned, and till the men got redress of every evil they had any reason to complain of. They could not now be treated as they formerly were. The men were more enlightened, and they expected more indulgence. [Mr. WILLIAMS: Hear!] The hon. Member for Lambeth might cry "Hear," as if he wanted popularity; but he would not put an end to flogging for all that. He would flog, but he would flog in a proper manner. If a man behaved ill, he would try him by court-martial and punish him. He was not 994 afraid to say so. The men themselves would not live in a ship if there was no discipline. A ship would be a hell upon earth without discipline, and if the hon. Member for Lambeth succeeded in abolishing corporal punishments in the navy tomorrow he would not get the thanks of the men.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, he wished to thank the noble Lord for his clear and business-like statement, which he had heard with peculiar pleasure. With regard to the pensions to warrant officers' widows, however, he should wish to know whether the arrangement was to be retrospective as recommended by the Naval Commission. If not, he should never suspend his agitation till that grievance was redressed. The present allowance as outfit for a petty officer when raised to a warrant officer was £30, but was quite inadequate, and there was often found great difficulty in getting proper men to come forward for the warrant, because pensions were taken away from their widows. With regard to boys, the Commission recommended that school-ships should be established at all the principal commercial ports. Provision was to be made for 2,400 boys, besides those who came forward voluntarily to be afterwards absorbed into the Mercantile and Royal Marine. He found no vote taken for school-ships, and he wanted to know what was the intention of the Government in that respect. He had heard from various ports, such as Hull, Greenock, Aberdeen, and Dundee, that these school-ships were looked for with great interest, and there was considerable disappointment that the recommendation of the Commission had not been carried into effect. When the boys went on board ship, a number of them were employed as officers' servants. He objected to that, as being a most prejudicial employment for boys; under such a system they became neither good seamen nor good servants. He next wished to draw the noble Lord's attention to the subject of the sergeants in the Marine Artillery. The Marine Artillery was established in 1804, and at first made part of the Royal Artillery. The separation was made about the year 1839. Up to that time the pay of the non-commissioned officers in the Marine Artillery went on increasing pari passu with that of the Royal Artillery; but since the separation this had not been so, and he thought the case of these men deserved the attention of the Government. The pay of sergeants in 995 the Marine Artillery was now less by 2¾d. a day than that of sergeants in the Royal Artillery. The pay should be equalized. With regard to the pay of other officers which had been passed in this Vote, it was the fact that the pay of captains of men-of-war was entirely inadequate to the duties they had to perform. The pay of captains was only £600 a year, and they were quite unable to maintain their position in society without trenching upon their private means. Besides this, the Admiralty had taken to cheat the captains. They appointed captains of a lower grade to the command of 90-gun ships, and cut down the pay to £450 a year. The number of midshipmen was also entirely insufficient; and it was important that young men should be encouraged to study and become candidates for warrants, and that after passing competitive examinations they should receive increased pay, and should be entered as the first men for promotion to warrants as they became vacant, and in the mean time be employed in many of the duties formerly fulfilled by midshipmen. The next point was that of naval instructors. Young gentlemen entering the navy were now called upon, he thought with great advantage, to pass examinations; but the Admiralty were now making bricks without straw, for there was a large number of ships, no less than fifteen, four of them flag-ships, to which no naval instructors at all were attached. Then, as to the reserve. Having been of those who first recommended this measure, he was sorry to find it did not work well. Various causes had contributed to this result. The bounty had operated greatly against the reserve, as had also the disturbance in the Princess Royal. Again, the Admiralty had not taken the proper steps for making the advantages of service in the reserve sufficiently known. The fact was, there was no one in the navy to discharge the duties of the recruiting sergeant. Men were furnished with a long printed list of regulations, which they had great difficulty in understanding, and which often led them to form wrong conclusions. The Admiralty might take a leaf out of the Horse Guards book with advantage in this respect, and employ active petty officers at the different ports, in the same way as recruiting sergeants were now employed on behalf of the army. In a town like Portsmouth it might be expected that a regular office for the enlistment of seamen would be open; yet 996 hon. Gentlemen would be surprised to hear that the only place where anything of the kind was conducted was the house of Mrs. Louisa Wafer, a woman who exercised an extraordinary influence over seamen, corresponded with them in the most distant parts of the kingdom, and did more to man the fleet than could be well understood without being a witness to the fact. Another evil was the total absence of police on board ships in harbour, so that when the men went on shore there was no one who knew where to find them again. Besides all this there was a great want of proper dockyard accommodation; and he thought, if the Princess Royal, instead of stripping in the stream, had gone into a basin, and had her crew discharged there, such a disturbance as had taken place could not have occurred.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
said, he hoped the House would bear in mind that, however accurately the naval programmes might be arranged beforehand, they were always liable to be deranged by disturbing causes; and the more ships there were in commission, the more troop-ships moving, the greater was the probability that repairs and other incidental circumstances would thus operate. The non-completion of the two frigates was owing to the fact that timber of the required dimensions was not in store at the time. More timber, however, was expected, and might arrive in time to ensure their completion before the close of the financial year. The right hon. Baronet opposite had inquired whether an opinion had been arrived at with regard to what should be the standard force of line-of-battle ships to be kept up. It was, however, impossible to fix upon any standard for our force, and say that that was the proper amount of naval strength for this country to keep up. That force must always depend upon what was done by other countries; and it was only by watching the growth of foreign navies—whether in line-of-battle ships, frigates, or iron ships—that we could arrive at any just estimate of our own requirements. With regard to the duties of the Comptroller of the Navy, changes were now in progress in his office, and when those changes were completed there would be no hesitation in furnishing the information which the right hon. Baronet desired. With regard to Vote 11, the dockyards would be kept in a proper state of repair with the sum taken in the present Estimates, and he believed that 997 no great work had been postponed that was really necessary to be entered on this year. They had postponed, however, large works in the different dockyards which would have to be undertaken at some time or other, such as accommodation for longer ships; but looking at the large Estimates before the House which the Admiralty were obliged to frame, they thought there should be some saving in that Vote. The right hon. Baronet would be glad to learn that the Government had faced the somewhat difficult question connected with Chatham. It was in contemplation to extend that yard, and the Board, having considered the deficiency of accommodation in the great eastern arsenals, had come to the conclusion—looking to the natural disadvantages of Sheerness, and to the objections, in a military point of view, to the Isle of Grain — that St. Mary's Island was the only direction in which the dockyard accommodation should be enlarged, and they were in communication on the subject with a large number of persons interested in the property. As to the occurrences on board the Princess Royal, prior to the outbreak the account received by the Admiralty differed somewhat from that narrated to the House to-night. According to that account the petty officers represented, in the most respectful manner to the Admiral on his inspection, that they did not wish to be turned over to the Queen; and that request having been forwarded to the Admiralty was complied with. A great deal of that unhappy feeling arose from the fact, that the officers were in the habit of obtaining leave when the ship was paid off, while the men were restricted. The officers had now been placed on the same footing as the men in this respect, and not a murmur had been heard in the case of any of the ships that had since then been paid off. He concurred fully in the opinions of the hon. Baronet (Sir J. D. Elphinstone) as to the value of a reserve force, and he hoped that by the establishment of the training ships for boys by carefully studying the feelings and the interests of the men much would in time be done to make the service popular and respected.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
, in explanation, said, he did not intend to suggest that there should be or could be anything like a permanent standard of line-of-battle ships. But he thought there was a point at which, our navy having attained to a position of 998 sufficient superiority, it would be well to pause in regard to laying down new line-of-battle ships until the Admiralty had ascertained the effect of the great changes effected lately in naval science.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he hoped that his hon. Friend would not press his Motion, the universal wish of the Committee apparently being that some Votes should be taken.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
observed, that he would withdraw his Motion on the understanding that no more speeches were to be made.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question again proposed.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
My thanks are due to the noble Lord (Lord C. Paget) for the perspicuity and honesty of purpose which so eminently characterize the statement which he has submitted to the House; and my satisfaction is not unpardonably redoubled by recognizing in him a brother officer and an ornament to his profession. The measures which have been adopted to maintain the navy in a state of complete strength and efficiency recommend themselves to my judgment as the dictates of prudence. The attitude of armed and conscious power deters the opponent from his intention of invading an existing peace; and the display of vigour at the onset of actual hostilities accelerates an honourable termination to a war, whilst, on the other hand, a policy of hesitation and timidity enervates the spirit of a nation, and encourages aggression and pretensions on the part of its opponent, which, if they be tamely submitted to, threaten its security and endanger its reputation. Last year I strongly urged upon the noble Lord how desirable and important it appeared to mo, that the Surveyor of the Navy should be elevated to a more commanding position in the service, by being constituted an honorary member of the Board of Admiralty. Without throwing any additional expense upon the country, the change would enable that officer to deliver his opinions with greater freedom and weight, which, under the present system, is denied to him. At the same time there are occasions when the service would derive much benefit by the existence of a Board, composed of the most eminent persons in the various branches of naval architecture and all matters connected with 999 naval warfare, which should meet from time to time to review the suggestions made by competent authorities in reference to subjects of such vast importance. In dealing with the officers and men, it is only common justice to assure of certain reward the officer who displays zeal and perfects himself in the knowledge of his profession, and to observe strictly and fulfil the promises that have been held out to the seamen, I hope I am to understand that 2,000 boys will be introduced into the service every year; let me then add that two ships will not be sufficient for their proper instruction; the allotment should not exceed the number of 500 boys to a single vessel. If my earnest expostulations on this subject — the employment and training of boys from fourteen to eighteen years of age—had been heard some years since, the service would not be now suffering from a paucity of sailors. The relative strength of the fleets of Russia and France, the enormous extent of the British commerce, the remoteness of many of our most valuable dependencies, the insecurity of political relations, and the uncertainty of a continuous peace are so many undeniable arguments imperatively demanding that our navy should be preserved in the highest state of efficiency, as upon its supremacy hangs the welfare or downfall of England. The disastrous circumstances, to which allusion has been made by the gallant Admiral (Sir Charles Napier), that occurred on board H.M.S. Princess Royal require a passing observation. Any disposition to mutiny, any contumacious disturbance, as detrimental to discipline, and, under particular circumstances, still more perilous, must be promptly quelled, and vigorously suppressed. The first spark of fire must be trodden out—it must not be allowed to spread. Admiral Bowles was not informed that the men were actually standing at the gate; the knowledge would have carried importance and influenced his decision, for there is no man whose heart is more open to kindly feeling, no man of greater experience or sounder judgment, no man who has contributed more largely, than that gallant officer, his time or his money, to every institution and project that could benefit the naval service of this country.
§ MR. BENTINCK
expressed his concurrence in the well-merited tribute which had been paid to the able statement of the noble Secretary to the Admiralty, and he 1000 was very glad to find the Estimates such as to afford the hope that the navy was about to be placed on the footing it ought to be. His noble Friend said that there was an impression that the country did not get the full value for the money expended. He believed that impression to be correct; and he was of opinion that the circumstance was owing to the system on which the Board of Admiralty was constructed. Until that Board ceased to be a political one and until professional men were chosen to fill the various departments and see that the ships were properly constructed, he believed they would have always to complain of the naval expenditure. He (Mr. Bentinck) could not join with the noble Lord in holding out any expectation of a speedy reduction in the amount that would be required for the Naval Estimates; on the contrary, looking to the state of affairs in Europe he thought it more likely that it would be found necessary to spend a yet larger sum. They ought to look the question fairly in the face; and they should at all events remember that an injudicious economy in past years had in the end led to a far greater waste of public money than could possibly have been brought about by any amount of dockyard extravagance. He also wished to know what steps had been taken to supply the deficiency of naval instructors on board line-of-battle ships in commission.
said, he should move that the House report progress, for the whole question of the national armaments required a much more deliberate discussion than could be given it at half past twelve. We had a large naval expenditure and a large armament, and he wished to know against whom we were arming? Was it against the Emperor of the French? Had we not just concluded a treaty of commerce and consequently of peace with him? He wanted the Government to state distinctly against whom we were arming. Why were they taxing the people? Where was the fearful expenditure to end? They ought to report progress that that Question might be fully discussed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now report progress."
§ GENERAL UPTON
said, he would suggest that there should be an entry of boys in the interior as well as at the ports.
inquired whether there were no means by which the ships of 1001 the Royal Navy might he made serviceable for the conveyance of troops.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, the question of how to supply naval instructors in those ships of the line in which they were still wanting was receiving the best attention of the Admiralty; and a plan had been suggested of combining the office with that of chaplain. The ships of the navy were occasionally used for the transport of troops; but at present the crews were a little raw, and required to be trained.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
hoped the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lindsay) would not press his Motion for reporting progress. He hoped to propose the first Vote for the Army Estimates on Friday next; and if they did not take the number of men both for the army and navy this week, they would not be able to do so for some time, because the discussion on the Budget would intervene.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to. Also,
§ (2.) £3,476,757, Wages.
§ (3.) £1,458,087, Victuals.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported this day (Tuesday). Committee to set again on Wednesday.
§ House adjourned at half past Twelve o'clock.