§ (2.) £444,049, New Works in Naval Establishments.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he should be glad to hear whether the Board of Admiralty had taken into their consideration the pressure that existed for the extension of the dockyards at Chatham. The late Board of Admiralty had given the subject their most anxious consideration, but did not come to any final conclusion upon it. He was disposed to think that there ought to be a large expenditure upon the Chatham dockyards. It was most important to have the naval estsblishments well strengthened particularly upon that part of our coast. They could not do justice to our naval forces without largely increasing our dockyard accommodation there. He wished to know whether the Board of Admiralty had come to any conclusive opinion upon the subject.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, that the Board had given much attention to the case of the Chatham dockyards. They had found upon inquiry as to their rights over St. Mary's Creek, which formed a sort of highway for small vessels between Chatham and Gillingham that there was 456 an opposition on the part of the Corporation of Rochester and Chatham against their taking possession of it. In carrying on the works at St. Mary's Island it would be necessary to shut up St. Mary's Creek, and the Admiralty proposed to introduce a Bill for the shutting up of that creek. In the meantime they were doing what they could to arrest encroachments from the sea on the outer part of the island, which would be so much gained. It was not, however, proposed in the present year to go beyond the works already in progress.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he had heard the answer of the noble Lord with very great satisfaction, and he hoped the Admiralty would continue to bear the matter in mind.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said he wished to call attention to the expense of gas used in the various dockyards. There was an item of £350 for gas at Deptford, another of £842 for gas at Woolwich, £900 for Chatham, £600 for Sheerness, and £1,000 for Portsmouth. Now, when the sum charged for gas in one yard amounted to £1,000 a year, it became a question whether it might not be more economical to manufacture it. He was led to put this question, as a sum was now to be taken for gasworks at Deptford.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
said, they had manufactured gas for themselves at Pembroke at a cost of 2s. 7d. per 1,000 feet; but when they could get pure gas from a company at 3s., they did not think it advisable to incur the expense of gasworks. The rate at Deptford, however, was high, and in this Vote there was an item of £300 for gasworks there. With regard to Portsmouth, the question was under consideration. They wanted, further, to see how they got on at Deptford and Pembroke before embarking in larger works.
§ MR. AUGUSTUS SMITH
commented upon the enormous sums placed upon the Estimates, comprising all sorts of matters, without the necessary information as to what items they belonged. He also complained that with regard to Keyham, and also to Woolwich, large Votes were taken for the purchase of land, and cost of erection of buildings, without distinguishing the cost of the land from the cost of the buildings. He asked whether there was any objection on the part of the Admiralty to give a return specifying all the land purchased in connection with the dockyards, with the quantities and the prices paid, and extending back some two years.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, the land alluded to in the Votes had been, generally, long since purchased; but all the details of the great works were kept on the Votes year after year until the whole were completed. The only new item was that of £6,000 for the purchase of the Quadrangle at Keyham. At Woolwich there was an item of £10,250 for the final completion of the infirmary. That building had cost a good deal more than the original Estimate, but this Vote would make it ready for the reception of patients.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, the noble Lord had not as yet touched upon an old and long-standing question in respect to Keyham—namely, the purchase of what was called the St. Aubyn's Estate adjoining. He wished to know whether any decision upon this point had as yet been come to. There was an item of £25,000 for additional barrack accommodation at Plymouth, which required explanation. The Supplementary Estimate for the purchase of an estate and for the further extension of this barrack accommodation involved an expenditure of £51,000.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, with regard to St. Aubyn's Estate, the Admiralty had made over and over again an offer for the purchase of it, but it was refused, and they had no intention at present to purchase any land in that quarter. The Marine Barracks at Plymouth were in a very unsatisfactory condition, and their enlargement was absolutely necessary for the accommodation of a force which had greatly increased. The adjoining premises were therefore to be purchased.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, the outlay now going on at the Bermudas, which figured in the Estimates at £150,000, called for a searching inquiry on the part of the Government, with a view to the removal of abuses.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, that £96,000 had already been voted for the Bermudas, where the dockyards works were begun as far back as 1812 or 1813. Was it possible that this expenditure had been going on ever since then? Stabling for twenty horses had been provided for the superintendent of an island much too small to afford exercising ground for such a stud.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, that works had been in progress at the Bermudas for a great number of years; but the present Estimate related to works that had been going on only for seven or eight. A storehouse was being built, the accommodation in the dockyard increased, and an additional house outside it erected.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
inquired whether the Governmeut had any intention of carrying out the plan for concentrating all the Admiralty departments at Whitehall.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
admitted that it would be desirable to bring all the departments connected with the navy under one roof, but to do so would involve much expense, and he was not aware of any intention at present to propose an Estimate for that purpose.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he wished to refer to the Vote for Gibraltar, where he found it stated that in consequence of the insufficient supply of convict labour recourse had necessarily been had to hired labour. He would suggest to the Government whether, instead of sending convicts to Western Australia, they should not send them to Gibraltar, where they could be made useful. He also wished for some explanation respecting a Vote for the Corodino tank at Malta. The Vote was £12,737, and an additional sum of £5,605, which appeared to be a larger sum than ought to be required. Another Vote of £2,000 for a coal wharf at Trincomalee also needed explanation, as he could not see why that outlay should he made just now.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
explained that at Gibraltar the army works were extending, and the first demand upon convict labour belonged to them. The Admiralty were, therefore, obliged to have recourse to hired labour. He did not know whether those works would go on increasing, but, if they did not, there was plenty of work for convicts at Gibraltar, such as lengthening the mole and other works. The outlay for the tank at Malta was large, but excavations in that island were always expensive and uncertain, owing to the porous nature of the rock. The item for a coal wharf at Trincomalee was a consequence of our warlike operations in the East, and it was obviously necessary for us to provide a depot for coals for the use of our steamers in those seas.
§ MR. J. L. RICARDO
said, he observed a sum of money put down for increased barrack accommodation. He had that day 459 been studying a document which had just been laid before Parliament, the contents of which had made his hair stand on end, both at the danger we were in if an invasion took place, and at the enormous expense—some £12,000,000—which would be necessary to make us safe. The Commissioners upon National Defences, among other things, recommended fortifications of the dockyards, which included large barrack accommodation. He therefore thought it would be as well to defer the present Vote, as all money now applied would be thrown away if the recommendations of the Commissioners should be adopted.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he would ask the noble Lord, after the satisfactory answer he had given to his former question, whether the Admiralty would undertake to bring the question before the Government of the removal of the convict establishment in Western Australia to Gibraltar, in consequence of the scarcity of convict labour at the latter place.
said, he would draw attention to the item of £25,000 for building cottages for the Coastguard. He observed that a Return recently made showed that each cottage cost £220, which he thought was more than should be the cost of buildings of that nature.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
said, with reference to the question concerning Gibraltar, if there should be more works at that place than the present supply of convicts could perform, probably the Board of Admiralty would communicate with another department on the subject. With respect to cottages for the Coastguard, he admitted the cost was large, but it must be remembered that they had to be built in a most substantial manner in places often remote from towns and difficult of access. The plan, however, had recently been slightly altered, and the last tenders sent in were at a lower price than formerly.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that his impression, when he was at the head of the Admiralty, was that the expenditure for the Coastguard cottages was rather large. He was, therefore, glad to hear from the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Whitbread) that the Board would do all in their power to keep it down. The marginal observation in the Estimates respecting the Admiralty having been unable to obtain a sufficiency of convict labour at Gibraltar raised this very important question—were the finances of this country to be subjected to those expenses for hired labour when 460 we were incurring such an enormous expenditure per head for sending out convicts to Western Australia? If the demand for convict labour still continued at Gibraltar it was high time for the Admiralty to communicate with the Home Office, and he therefore hoped that the noble and gallant Lord would give the subject his serious attention.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, that undoubtedly, if the large works now going on at Gibraltar were to continue, it would be the duty of the Government seriously to consider the question of securing more convict labour; but that would be attended with considerable expense in the way of providing additional convict accommodation. The subject was, however, a very important one, and should receive due attention. Indeed, his hon. Friend (Mr. Whitbread) had asked Admiral Martin to make inquiries into the matter when he arrived at Gibraltar. In his own opinion the work was only of a temporary character.
§ MR. J. L. RICARDO
asked whether the expenditure upon barracks proposed by the Admiralty would be independent of the expenditure on fortifications recommended by the Commissioners on the National Defences. He wished to know also whether a supplementary Estimate would be brought forward in the present year founded on the Report of this Commission.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
could not hold out any hope that the recommendations of the Commissioners would bring about any reduction in the present Estimates with respect to barracks. As to the other question, he was not prepared to answer it. The Secretary for War would make his own statement on the subject.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
asked what was the largest ship that could get into Sheerness basin at all times of the tide, and whether it was necessary to remove her guns and stores before going in. He wished to know, also, whether the Admiralty expected to deepen the passage into Portsmouth harbour so that a three-decker could sail in and out with her guns on board. At present, if an enemy were at Spithead and our ships inside the harbour, they could not get out to drive the enemy away. That was not a state of things which ought to continue. Would the noble Lord inform him to what extent the Mole of Gibraltar had been lengthened, and how many ships could he within the Mole protected from the gales which prevailed there?
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, it was intended to carry out the Mole at Gibraltar 200 feet beyond the 1,000 feet originally intended. It would, therefore, be 1,200 feet longer, and he believed about 400 feet were still unfinished. With regard to Portsmouth Harbour, he feared he could give no positive assurance that such a depth would ever be attained as would enable a three-decker to sail out at all times of the tide. Dredging was being carried on, but he was sorry to say that shingle of the same nature as that on the top of the Spit had found its way again into the Channel, thereby showing that continual dredging would be necessary. The great dredging works now going on at Spithead were expected to be completed this autumn. The gallant Admiral had asked whether the basin at Sheerness would admit a very heavy ship. It would not, for it was impossible to make it deep enough for that.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
observed that in case of war Sheerness would be a very important place, and perhaps the noble Lord would ascertain whether it would he possible to deepen the basin sufficiently.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, that as the unhappy Chinese war was about to begin temporary provision must be made in the shape of coal stores in the Eastern seas, but the sheds and stores mentioned in the Estimates appeared to be intended for a permanent purpose. He wished to know whether the Estimates of these items were made on the authority of competent judges, so that the noble Lord could rely on the necessity of expending such amounts.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, he could not state exactly, but he knew it had a good broad platform with a high parapet, and was a very convenient mole. With regard to the coalsheds and stores, the Estimates went through a process of weeding very considerable in the aggregate, and there was scarcely one which was not cut down before it was submitted to the House. It was economy to keep up good stores of coals, because in the Indian and Chinese seas coals must always be in use, and it was idle to suppose that they would not be required every year.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also
§ (3.) £73,000 (Medicines, Medical Stores).
§ (4.) £92,750 (Naval Miscellaneous Services).
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
complained that a 462 variety of divers matters were put together, so that it was impossible to know whether the charges were right or wrong.
said, the sailors' homes and other similar institutions had been of the greatest benefit to the men employed in the service, and therefore he hoped that in future years a larger sum would be placed in the Estimates than at present. £1,600 was all that was now devoted for these purposes.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
asked how it was that there was such a large increase in the sum required for passage money. In 1859–60 £12,000 was voted; and for 1860–61 £30,000 was required.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said the increase was in consequence of the passages out to China of the military officers and others.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he could not but express his regret at finding certain sums set down under the name of rewards "for the destruction of pirates." It was desirable that the rewards given to officers and seamen on account of their bravery should be stated under some other description, rather than be described as bestowed for the destruction of human life. There was an item of £7,773 for "compensation for damage done by Her Majesty's ships," and he wanted to know how it was that they committed this damage.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, with regard to the item mentioned as destruction of pirates, in former years it was called head money. In estimating the sum to be awarded, the Admiralty took into consideration the amount of the service, and the number of lives lost among their own men, and the strength of the enemy, and after the Admiralty had made an estimate it was submitted to the Treasury, and was again gone into. The terms employed might seem a little harsh, but the sums voted were rewards rather for the destruction of vessels than the destruction of human lives. With regard to the damages for collisions, the hon. and gallant Member knew that when the Admiralty went before a jury they were sure to give a verdict against the Admiralty. If any misfortune arose, it was by far the cheaper way to compensate the owners than to go to law. There was recently great damage done to the Hastings, and for which the Admiralty ought to claim compensation, but they felt that they would not be able to get a jury to give them anything.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he 463 wished to ask the noble Lord whether it was the intention of the Admiralty to recommend any change in the rule in reference to the granting of gratuities and pensions for wounds so as to assimilate the rule to the one in force for the army. The manner in which compensation was assessed to officers wounded in the navy was most unjust. It was a rule not to grant compensation unless the wound was equal to the loss of a limb. Now it was impossible for parents, or persons going into the navy, to know what the rule was. The sum now asked for gratuities and compensation was ridiculously small, being only £2,000. Again, no provision was made for ruptured men. They were discharged from the service, and, as they could not get employment, they had to go into the union workhouses. How could the Admiralty expect to obtain men for the navy when they were thus treated.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, he could give no distinct promise on the subject; but he would bring the matter under the consideration of the Lords of the Admiralty, and he was sure that they would be ready to give the navy a fair share of any advantages which might result to the army from any modification of the Royal warrant with respect to pensions and gratuities.
said, that he wished for an explanation on two or three points. There was an item of £2,340 damages for the rejection of 541 tierces of salt pork at Deptford. That sum was more than the value of the pork. Then there was an item of £7,638 by loss on exchange in sending money to India. Surely there ought to be no loss, seeing that several great banking establishments were sustained upon the profits they made in transmitting money to India. There was, further, a sum set down of £2,400 paid to the Bank of England for the transmission of money to our out-ports. At what rate was the Bank of England paid for such services?
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, with regard to the last question the Admiralty paid 2s. per cent on money transmitted by the Bank of England to all the dockyards, except Pembroke, and in that case they paid 4s. per cent. He was not aware that any other bank would do it cheaper. He thought it was a fair charge, and they could not expect the Bank to do the work for nothing. The loss of £7,638 upon remittances to India was sustained in the 464 year 1858–59, and it arose inconsequence of the Admiralty having done an act of justice to those officers who were on distant stations. Formerly, officers had to draw bills at their stations, and get them discounted, which caused a great loss, and was much felt by the poorer officers. The Government had fixed a price for the rupee, and if the exchange was favourable to them they made a profit; if not, there was a loss, as in the present instance. As to the first question, he could not answer it, as the case occurred before he was in office. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir John Pakington) would explain the matter.
§ Vote agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £691,262 be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of Half-Pay, Reserved Half-Pay, and Retirement to Officers of the Navy and Royal Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1861.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
I think, Sir, this Vote is one on which the Committee may fairly require some information. It will be recollected that last year the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwitch (Sir John Pakington) in a very eloquent speech in favour of the officers of the navy, adverted to the extreme difficulty which the Admiralty experienced in giving due promotion and encouragement to our zealous officers, in order that they might feel that justice was done to them in the service. The right hon. Baronet went into the details, which much interested the House, and he showed what is perfectly true, that at present promotion in the navy is almost at a standstill, It is absolutely sad to think of the small number of promotions we have been able to give during the past year, particularly promotions of commanders to be captains, and of lieutenants to be commanders. Prior to the last war there was a vast number of officers who in peace were unemployed; there was no opportunity of employing them, and a great many were put upon the retired and reserved lists. The result is that our system of half-pay for the navy is in a complicated and most unsatisfactory condition. It would be well if some comprehensive scheme could be framed which would enable you to provide for officers who have served their country faithfully, to encourage young officers to remain in the service, and to hold out to all a fair hope of promotion. Unfortunately, however, this is impossible. 465 I am prepared to show that no scheme, however comprehensive, which you could frame would ever be permanent in the navy. The navy is liable to such great fluctuations that you cannot deal with it as you can, for example, with the Civil Service, where you have a fixed body of gentlemen serving you, and where there is a known and certain amount of promotion. If to-morrow we could get rid of those alarms which are excited by the state of Europe, we know well that the first proceeding on the part of the House of Commons would be greatly to reduce our fleet. The result of that would be to throw a vast number of young officers out of employment, and those officers would necessarily cease to advance on the navy list, for if you cannot give employment to your officers it is quite impossible you can promote them. Suppose, on the other hand, a great war were unfortunately to break out. There would then be a great increase in the navy, and you would have, so far from anything like a reduction, to draw largely from the merchant service. It will thus be seen that the navy is liable to such great and constant fluctuations that, however desirable it might be that you should put your lists upon a fair and proper footing, I maintain no Minister could come down to the House of Commons and submit a scheme which would do for all future years. You must deal with your navy lists according to the circumstances of the time. Where the shoe pinches there you must apply a remedy. No doubt, if one were to take a superficial view of the subject, one might come to the conclusion that we should at once place our lists upon such a footing that what we call our effective lists should be composed solely of effective officers. The scheme which the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich drew up, and upon which he bestowed so much care, goes further in that direction than the one which I have now the honour to submit to the Committee, but there are many defects in his plan which doubtless I shall have to point out in the course of this debate. I think, that one of the principal objections to his scheme is, that it is very expensive, and that it could not be permanent. If the right hon. Gentleman could show that his scheme was equally applicable to a time of peace and a time of war—because that is the important point—no doubt he would prove it to possess at least one great advantage; but inasmuch as it is very expensive, and does not offer that advantage, I think it ought not to be 466 adopted. There is another reason why I should be sorry to see it carried into effect. It would hurt the feelings, I might almost say break the hearts, of many old and valuable officers who served their country during those wars in which it gained its greatest glory. I allude, of course, to the proposal of the right hon. Baronet that admirals who are above a certain age should be placed on a retired list.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
Well, at all events, the old admirals are dealt with in the scheme. I maintain that there is no necessity for doing so. If, indeed, it were necessary by some means or other that you should increase your list of admirals in order to bring in younger men some change might fairly be adopted; but the present system gives you plenty of young admirals. There is no lack of such admirals now; many old officers will, no doubt, shortly follow their forefathers, and among those who are coming up there are plenty young and active enough to discharge satisfactorily all the duties of flag officers. I say, therefore, there is no necessity for dealing with the admirals at all. Where does the shoe pinch in the navy? The evil is that we have no means of promoting lieutenants to be commanders, and commanders to be captains. During the time the present Government have been in office, notwithstanding the vast number of officers who are now employed, and who have been employed for some years past, the First Lord has been able to promote only three commanders to be captains. One has been promoted in consequence of a death vacancy, and three have been promoted by the Board for distinguished services, making a total of seven commanders who have been promoted to captains during the past year. During the same period the First Lord has promoted four lieutenants to be commanders, three have been promoted in consequence of death vacancies, and two more in consequence of haul-down vacancies of admirals. In addition there were seven Board promotions, making a total of sixteen lieutenants who have been made commanders. Considering the vast body of officers in the service, it is obvious that under the present system the prospect of 467 advancement which is presented to them is of a very melancholy and unsatisfactory character. In order to remedy as far as possible this state of things, we propose to lighten the lists of captains, commanders, and lieutenants by the retirement of certain officers, in order to make way for the promotion of others. The principle we propose to adopt is by no means a new one in the service — it is that of compulsory retirement. The term, I admit, is an ugly one. It is always painful to compel men to go on a retired list, and I should have been very glad if it could have been avoided. In dealing with these retired lists, however, nothing but compulsory retirement would effect the object we have in view.
The various features of our proposal will he found set forth in a printed document which has, I believe, been issued today, and is in the hands of hon. Members. First, then, as to captains, the arrangement we propose is as follows:—All captains who have attained, or shall hereafter attain, the age of sixty, without having served in their present rank, to be placed on a Retired list, and receive pay as follows:—If on 10s. 6d. half-pay list, when retired, 18s. per diem; if on 12s. 6d., 20s.; if on 14s. 6d., 20s.; such officers to assume the rank and title of rear admiral at the time they would have obtained their flag by seniority had they remained on the active list.These officers, recollect, have never served at all in their present rank. It will be observed, however, that there is one class of the above on whom it would be unfair to impose this arrangement,—those officers, I mean, who are on the 14s. 6d. half-pay list, and may therefore be regarded as on the high road to their flag. That class of officers will not be affected by this proposal, unless by their own desire. It would be unfair to touch them because as rear admirals they would be entitled to 25s. a day. We propose to deal with commanders in much the same way as with captains. All commanders of the age of sixty are to be placed on a retired list, with the rank of retired captain, and to receive half-pay according to their length of sea service, on the scale which is shown in the same document. We desire, you will observe, to adopt the principle that half-pay shall increase according to the length of service. That is a totally new, and I think beneficial, feature in the half-pay system of the navy. At present each rank receives half-pay altogether irrespective of service. The officer who lives on shore 468 at ease is paid at the same rate as the one who has been engaged in active service afloat or abroad for years and years. The general principle we seek to introduce will, I think, meet with general approval, and will confer a great boon on the service. All commanders on the active list who have not been employed either afloat, in the Coastguard, or as mail or transport agents, within a period of fifteen years, are to be placed on a retired list, and to receive retired pay according to their amount of sea service, on the same scale as other commanders, such officers being permitted to assume the rank of retired captain on reaching the age of sixty, but without further addition to their retired pay afterwards. The scale of pay will be as follows:—Pay per diem—Under nine years' service, half-pay they maybe receiving at the time when retired; above nine years' and less than twelve years' service, 10s. 6d.; above twelve years' and less than fifteen years' service, 12s. 6d.; above fifteen years' and less than twenty years' service, 14s. 6d.; above twenty years' service, 16s. 6d. Officers after twenty years' service in these ranks, or who are physically incapable of service, are to be eligible for this retirement, with the rank of retired captain, irrespective of age, at the discretion of the Board of Admiralty. Time served in command of Revenue vessels will count as sea time. Time served in the Coastguard on shore, or in Transport service on shore, will count as sea time in the scale of reired pay in the proportion of three years in the Coastguard or Transport Service, as one of sea service; while time service as mail or transport agents afloat will count for the purpose as sea time for the first three years, and after that in the proportion of three years' agents' time as two of sea service. Lieutenants are to retire, the same way as commanders, when they attain the age of sixty, with the rank of retired commander, and to receive pay according to their sea service, on the following scale:— Pay per diem.—Under six years' service, half-pay they may be receiving at the time when retired; above six years' and not less than nine years' service, 7s.; above nine years' and not less than twelve years' service, 8s. 6d.; above twelve years' and not less than fifteen years' service, 10s.; above fifteen years', 11s. 6d.; officers after twenty years' service in this rank, or who are physically incapable of service, to be eligible for retirement. We propose that 469 no further additions shall be made from the active list to the present retired list for commanders and lieutenants. Provision is also made in our scheme for an improvement in the half-pay of lieutenants on the active list. Of commanders we have, unfortunately, always too many seeking for service, but there is a difficulty in regard to lieutenants on the active list. They are constantly on duty, and render, I need hardly say, very valuable service to the country. After a great number of years' service, however, many of them find they have no prospect of promotion, and when they go on shore they return to the same half-pay as those who have not served at all. We propose that an encouragement should be held out to lieutenants to serve in the shape of an increase of half-pay, according to their increase of service, and we trust that that will induce them to be anxious for employment. The effect of the proposal, should it be adopted by the House, will be at once to remove eight captains, sixty-four commanders, and 179 lieutenants from the active list, and to give us the opportunity of bestowing immediate promotion on a number of officers, which will be a great boon to the service. Those lists which are now overburdened by the numbers established by orders in Council will be reduced to their established number, so that we shall be released from the unfortunate and heartbreaking necessity of promoting only one in three. Our proposal will leave vacancies for the immediate promotion, should it be deemed desirable, of three commanders to the rank of captain, and eighteen lieutenants to the rank of commanders, and what is far more important for the future efficiency of the service, will hereafter admit of a promotion for every vacancy. These are the details of the scheme which I have very imperfectly put before the Committee. I do not see the right hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir Francis Baring) in his place, but I wish to introduce a few observations to him and to those who advocate the cause of officers on the reserved list. The Admiralty have considered very fully the claims of those officers. We cannot admit them to be the same as the claims of officers on the active list, inasmuch as they never, in all human probability, can be called on for active service. Although no doubt the right hon. Member for Portsmouth, when, as First Lord, he drew up the scheme of retirement, never did intend that those officers 470 should rise in the list, nevertheless, it as was not perhaps fairly put before them that they would never rise on the list, pari passu with the active officers, it has been a great grievance. They say that they accepted the offer which was made to them with the distinct understanding that they would rise as on the active list. There is no document to show one way or the other. I find on looking over the names that there are many officers on that list of good service. The Board have therefore decided to recommend that under the system they shall be included—that is to say, that officers on the reserved list shall enjoy half-pay according to the length of service, whereby those who have served faithfully will benefit largely.
There is but one subject more which I have to remark upon, the scheme of the right hon. Baronet opposite, the First Lord of the Admiralty under the late Government. His proposal, that the patronage shall be solely in the hands of the First Lord, the Board do not concur in. They think the present system of Board promotions most invaluable to the service, and invaluable for this reason, that they are the only promotions which are not governed by the numbers already on the list. If an officer has gone through such distinguished service that it is a matter of justice he should be promoted, there is a Board meeting, and, on all the Members concurring in the view of its propriety, the Board have the power to make the promotion, even though the numbers be above the scale fixed by the Order in Council. I should be very loth and very sorry to see that done away, [An hon. MEMBER: So would the service,]—because it is most important that officers should feel that if they distinguished themselves by signal service, and particularly in action before an enemy, the Board have power to promote them, even though the numbers are completed. I will read a list of the officers promoted last year by the Board, which I hope will induce the right hon. Baronet to entirely agree with me that these Board promotions ought not to be abolished. There is Captain Turnour, promoted for services in the Naval Brigade in India. This officer was at Delhi and throughout the terrible scenes of the Indian war. Would the right hon. Baronet say that, if the list were complete, such an officer ought not to be promoted? There is Captain Viscount Gilford, for services and severe wounds in China. He had his arms shattered and bullets through his 471 body, and I believe went through tortures in consequence. He was three or four times under fire. Then there is Captain Grandy. That is an annual promotion given to the Coastguard, and a very proper promotion, too. Of commanders there is Commander T. Jones, senior Lieutenant of his ship in Japan, and in action in China. There is another Commander Jones—no relation—Commander W. H. Jones, for service before Nankin. He also navigated the Yang-tse-Kiang, and was at the Peiho action. There is Commander Anderson, for service in the Royal yacht. That is an annual promotion, and I do not believe any one will object to it. There is Commander Hobson, for Arctic discoveries under Captain M'Clintock. There is Commander Balfour, as senior Lieutenant in command of the gunboats in the Peiho. There is Commander Winthrop, an annual promotion in the Coastguard. I am sure the Committee will agree, after hearing that list, that these promotions are most valuable to the service. I believe that I have now dealt with every point, and all I can say is that I shall be happy to answer any questions which may be put to me.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
It is impossible to overrate the importance to the naval service, and, therefore, the importance to the public interest, of the subject which the noble Lord has now submitted to our consideration. As it is one to which it was my duty to give considerable attention during the time that I had the honour to be connected with the Admiralty, I am sure the Committee will indulge me while I address to them not only some observations upon what has fallen from my noble Friend, but upon the more general subject of the condition of the various classes of officers of the Royal Navy. I can take no exception whatever to the frank and fair tone in which my noble Friend has now addressed, as he always does address us. But I am sorry to say that I heard the statement with very great disappointment, and I am bound to say that I think the plan which he has now submitted does not bear out or correspond with the observations with which my noble Friend commenced his speech. My noble Friend commenced by stating most fairly and truly that the present state of the navy with regard to promotions, is as unsatisfactory as possible. The expression of my noble Friend was that promotion is at at a standstill, and he then proceeded to give a proof of the accuracy of his state- 472 ment by mentioning the number of promotions which the present Board have been able to make in the past year, from the rank of commander to that of captain, and from the rank of lieutenant to that of commander. I am sorry to say that in consequence of being out of town I did not see the printed plan until my noble Friend was kind enough to hand it to me, and I was not aware until to-day that the subject was to be brought before the House. In the few observations, therefore, which I shall make I shall have to speak principally from memory, and I cannot recollect accurately how many promotions of these two classes the late Board of Admiralty were able to make. But I think I am right when I state that the number of promotions at my disposal during the year that I held office was even less than that mentioned to us to-night. My noble Friend adverted to the unsatisfactory state of the lists of retired officers and reserved officers until the navy has become a mass of confusion; but he did not go on to state, as he might, that the real cause of all this confusion and complication is that successive Boards of Admiralty have from time to time been content to adopt mere stopgaps to meet the emergency of the moment, and have never had the courage to deal with the subject upon broad and permanent principles. I am convinced that the navy never will be satisfied, and never ought to be satisfied, until this miserable hand-to-mouth sytem is abandoned. My noble Friend tells us that, owing to great fluctuations in the navy, by which I presume he means the alternations of periods of war and peace, a permanent system of retirement is impossible; but in the same breath—almost in the same sentence —my noble Friend tells us that a comprehensive system is desirable. Now, in my opinion, a comprehensive system ought to be a permanent system, and I dispute altogether the dictum of my noble Friend that a permanent system is impossible. I admit that a period of war may require a mode differing from that which is required in a period of peace, but I do not for a moment admit that that is any reason why a permanent system is impossible. The duration of periods of peace is usually much longer than that of periods of war, and it is the duty of this House and of the Admiralty, in addressing themselves to this important subject, to make the nearest approach they can to a permanent system which shall meet the requirements of the Royal Navy during an average of years. 473 My noble Friend says that my scheme was expensive and not permanent, but I must beg leave to differ from him. The scheme which I ventured to propose was in its nature permanent, that is to say, it was self-acting, and not like that of my noble Friend's, only meant to meet the pressing emergency of the moment. One objection mentioned by my noble Friend has frequently been adverted to before, and I heard his observations cheered from some quarters of the House. I allude to the effect which he said it would have on the feelings of flag officers. This is a very difficult and delicate part of the question. I have stated before, and I state again, that no man would shrink more anxiously than I should from inflicting pain on those most distinguished men—one of whom I see before me (Sir Charles Napier); but, on the other hand, let me say as broadly, that we must deal with this matter for the public interest, and for the general interest of the naval service. Provided we do not inflict any hardship on the gallant Admirals at the head of the list, of which they would have fair reason to complain, I do not think they ought to allow their feelings unnecessarily to stand in the way of an improvement which may be for the good of the service and the welfare of their brother officers. In dealing with this complicated question I feel it is an advantage to have one of the Admirals who would be affected by the scheme, here in his place in this House, ready to state their case if I at all misstate it. My noble Friend—unintentionally of course—did not accurately describe the manner in which I proposed to deal with these Admirals. He first said that I proposed to put them on a retired list; and when I corrected him, he changed the phrase, and said I meant to put them on a supernumerary list. There may be something at the head of the paper containing my plan which might appear as though there was to be a supernumerary list; but my noble Friend will find it is not so if he looks to the end of the revised plan. At page 35, I proposed as follows:—1. Active Flag List, to be divided into two lists, to be called First and Second Flag Lists. First List to consist of all flag officers on the active list who have completed 70 years of age; second list to consist of 15 admirals, 24 vice-admirals, and 36 rear-admirals. 2. As officers on second list complete 70 years they are to be transferred to first list, and each vacancy so created to be filled by promotion from active list of captains. 3. Officers on first list to be as eligible for all honours and all employments as they are now, the principle and object of the proposed arrangement 474 being solely that officers who have completed 70 years should no longer impede promotion; and that there should be flag officers of each rank of an age at which they are likely to be effective.My noble Friend will admit, therefore, that I proposed neither a retired list nor a supernumerary list. I did not propose to remove those distinguished men from the active list; but I said, as distinctly as words could say, that they should be as open to all honours and employments as now. All I proposed to call on them to do was one thing—that when they arrived at threescore years and ten they should admit the fact, and when they had passed that age that they should no longer check the promotion of their junior officers. I appeal to truth and common sense whether there is anything in this of which they have a right to complain, which treats them with disrespect, which disregards their services, or to which, considering the general interests of the service, they ought to take the slightest exception? Looking to the extreme difficulty of the question and the necessity of maintaining promotion, I cannot imagine that they should not acknowledge the fairness of no longer continuing to impede promotion when they have arrived at that age. My noble Friend proposes, and rightly proposes, as I think, compulsory retirement. I quite accept the explanation he gave; and after the plan which I proposed it is almost unnecessary to say that, however painful it may be in exceptional cases, I agree with him that we cannot deal with the subject without adopting the principle of compulsory retirement; but I say distinctly that you will have no satisfaction in the Navy—you will not deal as you ought with this most important subject—unless you deal with all ranks.
I now come to the explanation given by my noble Friend of the plan he proposes. He proposes a system of compulsory retirement, and so far he is right; but I believe there can be no satisfactory arrangement unless you deal with all ranks alike. You must adopt fair and sound principles, and when you have adopted them you must apply them to the admirals as well as to the lowest officers in the Navy. There should be no suspicion of favouritism, no ground for complaint of dealing with officers of different ranks in a different way; if there is, public opinion will not support you, and the opinion of the naval service will not support you. I object to the plan of my noble Friend, because it is insufficient, because it does not meet the evil, 475 because it will create objections in the navy not of a fanciful character, not arguing from matters of feeling merely, and because it deals differently with different ranks, and applies one rule to one rank and another rule to another. I object to your not applying your rule to admirals, because I am convinced that you will therefore be doing injustice to the captains. Your first rule with regard to captains is that at 60 years of age all captains are to retire who have not served at all as captains. To commanders you apply a totally different rule. You say that all are to retire who are now 60, and all hereafter are to retire as they become 60. There is no limit applied to them as to whether they have served as commanders or not. That is unfair, and it originates in the timidity of the Admiralty in not having dealt with the question in a bolder spirit. By not dealing with flag officers you act unfairly to the captains. Officers will arrive at 60 who ought to become flag officers, and who would become flag officers if the plan were applied justly to all ranks, and they will have to retire because the admirals are not got out of the way by seniority as they advance in years. This inequality will apply most unfairly, for the same reason, to commanders. I am very glad that the Admiralty have so far followed the plan which I prepared as to have adopted the principle of compulsory retirement at a certain age, but they ought to have applied it more equally and more boldly. If you had applied the principle of retirement at 60 to all captains, then you would have given a fair chance of promotion to all commanders; but you apply that principle to only a small fraction of the captains, those who have never served as captains. The retirement on the captains' list will therefore be much slower than on the commanders', and it will stop the commanders' promotion.
I will now advert to another part of the noble Lord's speech, and with more pleasure, because I can speak of it in different language. I agree with what the noble Lord proposes to do in regard to increased half-pay according to service, and also in regard to allowing the half-pay of active lieutenants to be increased in the same way. I think that is quite right. I think also it would be a fair matter for consideration whether the time served as mate should not be allowed to count. You will do very great injustice if, in computing their time, you exclude the whole period 476 during which they served in the rank of mates. I do not say that in every instance the whole of that time should be allowed, but I repeat, you will do great injustice if you do not allow some part of it to that considerable number of junior lieutenants who have served a long time in that grade. I therefore hope the noble Lord will take this matter into consideration.
I will now allude to the subject of Board promotion, and I am obliged to tell my noble Friend that I have not changed my mind on that subject. Speaking as I do, with only brief experience at the Admiralty, I do not presume to speak of the soundness of my own judgment, but I deem it my duty to state frankly and openly the conclusion at which I have arrived,—that, on the whole, the system of Board promotions does not work well for the public service. I will read to the Committee an extract from a memorandum I added to my scheme of retirement just before I quitted office. It was in these words:—As I am going out of office, and can no longer be open to the suspicion of wishing to increase my own patronage, I must say that I still think it would be for the advantage of the public service to do away with Board promotions. I do not mean, in expressing this opinion, to imply the slightest suspicion of, or reflection upon, the gentlemen who now, or at any other time, constitute the Board of Admiralty. I only mean that I think such patronage ought to be exercised under the strongest possible responsibility; and I have no faith in aggregate bodies ever acting under that sense of responsibility which is felt by individuals. It Board promotions are retained, they should not be allowed to swell the lists, and should only be made in anticipation of vacancies.If hon. Members who take an interest in this question will refer to the earlier pages of this memorandum they will find statements bearing on the change when Board promotions were first introduced. The practical result has been that the aggregate amount of promotions has greatly increased. I adhere to the opinion I then expressed—that whoever may constitute these Boards there is not the same sense of responsibility in the aggregate body that there is in the individual Minister, open to question and censure in this House. Therefore, although I express my opinion with the respect due to gentlemen of professional experience, I do, on the broad public principle just stated, adhere to my opinion that it is for the interest of the public service to concentrate responsibility in all matters of promotion and do away with it as regards all aggregate bodies. I may be told of the distress- 477 ing case of Lord Gilford, who was wounded in China, and other officers who stand in the same position. I say no doubt they are entitled to every consideration, but in one of the very votes passed to-night you find the name of Viscount Gilford most properly selected for a very handsome pension. Therefore, I would rather refer to that case as supporting my view of the subject. You have rewarded him by a pension. It may be right to give him reward by pension and promotion, too. I cannot say how that may be; but you must remember that you cannot promote him without keeping back some other officer who ought to be promoted.
There is another branch of this subject to which the noble Lord did not allude; he did not give his opinion upon the question of haul-down promotion. In this memorandum I have condemned such promotion; and I adhere to that view. I say haul-down promotions do not benefit the public service; and they create very sore feeling. It is all a matter of chance, luck, or favour who may obtain these haul-down promotions. ["Hear!"] I am glad that observation is cheered by a gallant Admiral opposite who is so competent a judge; for he is just one of those distinguished men who are likely to benefit by the continuance of that system.
I am not aware that I need detain the Committee by longer observations upon the statement the noble Lord has made; but I would beg leave before sitting down to ask the attention of the Admiralty and the Committee to some other points connected with the present position of the different classes of officers in the navy. I am sorry to say my belief is that there is scarcely one rank of officers in the Royal Navy which is not at present dissatisfied more or less with their position. [Sir CHARLES NAPIER: Hear!] I do not know what is the meaning of the gallant Admiral's cheer. If he means that the different classes of naval officers who complain of their position do so without reason, I will say no man is less disposed than I am to yield to any unreasonable claim; but, on the other hand, I think the gallant Admiral will agree with me that it is one of the greatest possible misfortunes in our naval service to have large classes of men aggrieved by well-founded complaints. The question is whether the complaints they make are well-founded or not. The first class to which I allude are the captains of the Royal Navy who are not contented with 478 their present position, and I submit to the House, I submit to the Admiralty, I submit to the gallant Admiral, that, knowing what we do of what was passing lately in the fleet, knowing the unfortunate dangers which have existed and to which I hope the attention of the Admiralty has been gravely directed, this is not a moment when your officers ought to be dissatisfied. Have the captains in the Royal Navy any grounds of complaint or not? There are several respects in which they allege they have grounds of complaint. In the important respect of pay they are not in the position in which officers of their rank and fulfilling their important duties ought to be. The noble Lord is conversant with the change which took place some few years ago as regards the pay of captains in the Royal Navy. A few years ago I believe they were paid according to the class of ship they commanded. That is no longer the case. They are now paid according to their seniority in the service. What is the result? There are three classes of pay? At the present time no less than twenty captains are commanding line-of-battle ships on the lowest class pay, and I believe it to be the fact beyond all question that captains in the Royal Navy occupy their high position at a pecuniary loss to themselves. This cannot be right. I hold in my hand a letter from an officer of great distinction—it is a private letter. I have no objection to communicate in regard to it with the noble Lord, but I trust the Committee will allow me to read an extract from it. It comes from an officer of very high reputation as a captain who happens to he a man of independent fortune and to whom a pecuniary loss in the service of the country is not of that importance it must be to others. He writes to the effect, that a captain working out his three years in a ship will find himself considerably out of pocket. In fact, he pays for his own services. The consequence is, that a great many officers of this rank are never able to take employment; and the country in the hour of need loses the services of some of her best men. The average expense attending the commissioning of a ship is estimated at about £500. The writer has commissioned four ships which cost him £1,700, and that many will say was cheaply done. Will the Committee allow me to mention one or two cases which happened to myself when I was first Lord of the Admiralty. At that time, about a year ago, we were anxious to get up as speedily as possible a Channel 479 fleet. I sent for an officer, with whom I had no personal acquaintance whatever; I only knew him to be an officer of the highest distinction and standing in his profession. I offered him a line-of-battle ship. He requested twenty-four hours to consider. Next day he came back; thanked me for the offer, and said he should be proud to hold such a command, but that he could not afford to undertake it. I will give the House another instance of the same kind, also a captain in the navy, who happened to be a friend and connection of my own. He was an officer of high reputation, and I intended to offer him a ship. I believe he became acquainted with that intention, for he called on my private secretary, and through him sent me a request that I would not make him the offer, because he had not yet recovered from the debts he had contracted in fitting out a former ship as commander; and in consequence of these debts he could not afford to take command of a ship as captain. Now, this must he a false and erroneous state of things, and cannot he for the interest of the public service. Let the House remember the diplomatic duties captains of ships are often called upon to fulfil on foreign stations; and the hospitality they are required to extend to the officers of foreign vessels according to rules of the service which no one desires to see broken through. I am speaking in the presence of naval men, who can vouch for the truth of what I say; and I ask, can it he for the good of the service that officers should he exposed to such pecuniary loss in the discharge of their duties, that unless they are possessed of private means they cannot afford to take the command of a man-of-war? But how is it with foreign nations? Is it the case with France? Not at all. All officers in command of ships in the French navy have advantages that are not given to officers in the British service. In the first place their cabins are furnished; but a more important advantage is this—in the French navy there is regular system of table money on a scale proportionate to the rank of the officer, and, I believe, also to the class of vessel. There is also one scale of table money for the homo ports, and another for foreign ports. This prevents the occurrence of instances like those I have mentioned, of officers whose services the country requires, and who ought to be afloat preserving that discipline which I am afraid is now impaired. It is most painful and distressing 480 when an officer comes to the First Lord of the Admiralty and says, "I should be proud to hold a command, but it is too expensive, I cannot afford it." My noble Friend is in a position to know the fact; he is the man of all others to whom, on account of his knowledge and experience, the navy looks for some remedy for the evils complained of.
The lieutenants have also complained much of their position; but I have great hopes that the proposals of the noble Lord, especially the suggestion I took the liberty to make — that their mates' time should be counted, and the increased rate of pay, will give satisfaction. But I am sorry to say, that the masters, the paymasters, the engineers, and the naval instructors, are all making complaints, more or less well founded; they all desire to be improved in their positions. I will not go into these complaints, as I do not wish to detain the Committee longer. But I am distinctly of opinion that it will be for the good of the service and the country if these matters are looked into. Anything like ill-founded and unreasonable complaints should, of course, be disregarded and set aside, but all well-founded complaints should be fairly and justly met. It is difficult to enter into the whole of the retirement question; I do not wish to put the scheme I ventured to propose into comparison with that of the noble Lord, further than it may conduce to the public good. I do not wish to carry any comparison of the kind beyond the fairest reasonable limit; but I cannot help thinking the best course for the Admiralty and the country would be to refer the whole question to a Commission. If the Admiralty is willing to deal with it, it is no doubt competent to do so. But it is a large question; taking the operation of the retirement pay and allowances, and all the complaints made by various ranks of naval officers, this course appears to me the most desirable. I would suggest to the Government whether an inquiry into the whole question by a competent Commission might not be satisfactory to the service. As far as I can judge of the scheme of the noble Lord at the moment, I think his plan is timid and unsatisfactory, that it is not likely to give that satisfaction to the service which is so desirable. In making these observations, I trust I have said nothing of which the noble Lord can complain. I assure him I have no motive whatever but the good of the naval service. No man can hold, even for a short period, 481 the office I had the honour to fill without admiring and taking a sincere interest in that noble service, I shall heartily thank the Admiralty for adopting any scheme that may really be for its benefit; and I shall be very glad to hear that the Government is prepared to refer the whole question to a Commission.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he begged leave to thank the right hon. Baronet for the clear manner in which he had stated the grievances of the officers of the navy. Every word he had said would be received with satisfaction by the navy at large; there was no exaggeration whatever in his statement. As to the scheme of the Government, he thought the Committee had reason to complain that it had not been laid before it in time to receive full and sufficient consideration. He did not understand how the noble Lord could hope for such great advantages from his plan. He did not wish to see the system of selection done away with, though, as it was conducted, it gave dissatisfaction rather than encouragement. They were told of the promotions of the First Lord, and the patronage of the First Lord, till the House hardly knew what was meant by it. The patronage of the navy was given to the First Lord to dispose of fairly and properly. But it was impossible to avoid making most of the promotion in the navy, independent of political influence. Every one knew it was given by influence; it was nonsense to suppose it was not. If he commanded four or five votes in the House he could go to the First Lord of the Admiralty and insist on promotion for his son. They saw that men of influence and title always got on. The chief promotions were political. He held a list in his hand which showed that the promotions from the rank of commander to that of captain had been in 1854, 34; in 1855, 32; in 1856, 32; in 1857, 23; and in 1858, 22. They could not with any arrangements make promotions sufficiently large, without constant retirements from the service, and the way in which that result should be effected ought to be whatever way was least hurtful to the feelings of officers of the navy. In 1854, no less than 52 lieutenants were made commanders; in 1855 there were 61 thus promoted; in 1856, there were 68; in 1857, 30; in 1852, 52. Now, considering that every man who entered the navy must not expect to be an admiral, any more than every clergyman ought to expect to be a bishop, he must admit, he thought, there 482 was no lack of promotions for a time of peace. [An hon. MEMBER: And partly a time of war.] He thought the noble Lord would do well to leave these matters alone, and leave the officers as they were at present. He did not find fault with the noble Lord's desire to benefit and ameliorate the condition of the navy; but when he said he intended to benefit the captains of the navy, all he did was to add five years to the captain's age before he retired, and to take 5s. away from the captains when they were made admirals. He had not studied the plan proposed by the late First Lord, much as he respected, and he might say admired, the way in which he did his duty when he was at the Admiralty; but he did not think he was long enough at the Board of Admiralty to enter into the feelings of the old officers in the service. He would not, therefore, go into that plan, but he would suggest to the noble Duke at the head of the Admiralty the desirableness of withdrawing his plan for the present, and give the profession a fuller opportunity of considering it. It was not respectful to the Committee to place it in their hands a few hours only before it was discussed and to ask for more money, while at the same time it was proposed to inflict injury without conferring advantages on the officers in the service. He could not agree with the right hon. Member for Droitwich that it would be desirable to refer the matter to a Commission, because any such Commission would be appointed by the Admiralty themselves, and would in all probability, in reporting on the matter, do just exactly what the Admiralty bade them.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
I did not understand that the noble Lord the Secretary of the Admiralty intended to press for any Vote of money to meet the scheme which he has advanced, but simply to lay it before the House; and I quite agree with the hon. and gallant Admiral (Sir Charles Napier), that, with such a short notice it would be impossible to bestow upon it that amount of consideration which is due to the officers whom it so immediately concerns. I am glad that the late First Lord (Sir John Pakington) has corrected his first proposition on the subject of retirement; if, acccording to his second plan, the Admirals were to be entitled to hold commands and be capable of nomination to pensions and honourable distinction, in the same manner as if they had been retained on the active list instead of being removed, as the case proposed, to a substantive list, 483 on their advance in age, the change could have afforded only a slight benefit to the service, whilst it necessarily struck a heavy blow on the hearts and feelings of the officers themselves who had been employed in the war, lasting with slight intermission, from 1784 to 1815, and been distinguished for gallantry and ability. It is peculiarly distressing to myself to refer to my own case; and if it had been possible to mention the names of other officers, I would gladly have declined the necessity. After having served as a lieutenant for upwards of six years and as a commander for seven years more, I became in 1822 a captain. It was my good fortune to perform services in the command of a frigate in 1823 which obtained the high approbation of the Admiral commanding the squadron on the station to which I was attached, and led to the recommendation of my name to the Sovereign in 1827 for the distinction of the Companionship of the Bath by his late Majesty, who then presided at the Board of Admiralty as Lord High Admiral. To this hour I have never received that honour, it has been denied to me by every successive First Lord, except Lord Ellenborough, who left at the Admiralty a Minute, that I: should be promoted on the next vacancy—this was in 1846. I was entitled to it, by the fact of wearing a medal. The reason why I was not made in 1827 was that the number of Companions was then limited to one hundred. I am now told that the honour is restricted to officers whose names have been recorded in The Gazette. At the period to which I refer, 1827, actions against pirates were not entered in The Gazette; the case is now altered, and similar services have appeared in The Gazette with the names of officers raised to that distinction on their account, while I have been most cruelly refused that which they have been given. One other observation. If an officer declines to serve he is entitled to no consideration; in my case I challenge contradiction when I make the assertion that no officer in the navy, from 1824 to 1852 more earnestly, more emphatically sought employment than I did, and I had commanded a frigate in action; but I was told from time to time—firstly, that I was too low on the list of captains—secondly, in the middle—thirdly, too high for ships then about to be commissioned. The fact was I had no interest, and, therefore, I could get no employment. Every step I won through my own energy, and for thirty years I offered, year by year, 484 myself for any description of service and for any station in the same spirit, and year by year came back the cold curt answer, enough to break my heart. In a case like this the question should be put, has the officer really endeavoured to serve? If he has not, let his name be set aside, but if he has, it is an excess of cruel injustice to punish him for his misfortune by placing him on a reserved list. Sir, I shall be pardoned for these remarks, when I remind you that my days are closing in, and the time approaches when no distinction of earth will be of value; but I could not allow the opportunity to pass of justifying the reserved Admirals, and of showing conclusively that Admiral Walcott who sat in Parliament was one who had not failed in exertion in his own profession. I could not brook any imputation to the contrary. The late First Lord had recommended that the patronage should rest with the First Lord for the time being, on the ground that he was accountable to this House for its just administration— but the real mode of employment was the following:—the First Lord would say to the Naval Lord, I intend to appoint Captain Black to such a ship, or to promote an officer, as the case might be, and without inquiry into the claims of other officers that favoured individual at once received appointment or promotion. Three only of from ten to fifteen admirals who are between the ages of fifty and sixty are in employment. Officers, while captains, do good service; but in their removal to the superior rank are rarely employed in command; the less occasion therefore for removing the more aged officers who gradually die off when promotion occurs from the captains' list. I cannot approve of the scheme of the late First Lord (Sir John Pakington) with respect to commanders. The postion of lieutenants is a standing proverb of neglect. It is flagrant injustice to withhold from that grade advantages which are bestowed for medical officers, when their services are equally meritorious. By the existing regulations a surgeon may attain the rank of lieutenant colonel, while a lieutenant of twenty years remained stationary. Permit me, Sir, to offer to the House my sincere thanks for the patience with which they have listened to my remarks in general, and for their kind attention when I referred to my own position. Would that I could indulge the hope that the time was at hand when promotion and honour would depend wholly on the con- 485 duct of officers, and not on uncertain, and capricious regulations, which lead to bitter disappointment, and when the golden rule would be adhered to, suum cuique, give to every man according to his deserts.
§ SIR MICHAEL SEYMOUR
observed, that in a great service like the navy nothing short of a full and efficient scheme could be of a permanent character. The scheme of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir John Pakington) met generally his approval, and he should be glad to see it carried out. He should like to see the claims of the various classes of officers settled on a right basis. That part of the right hon. Gentleman's plan which referred to the admirals had been objected to, but he was sure there was no intention to cast any reflection on the services of those officers. He would be the last man to throw any reflection on those gallant officers, but he could not see how they could be affected by removal from one list to another. If benefit was to accrue to the service from such removal, he did not think there should be so much sensitiveness as had been exhibited on this subject. He deeply sympathized with the gallant Admiral (Admiral Walcott), than whom no one stood higher in the opinion of the service, although he might perhaps justly complain of the manner in which he had been treated. The principle of selection was tried in the higher branches of the navy upwards of 100 years ago. When it first commenced we had only twenty-one admirals; but the system finally broke down under Lord Howe, who made a selection of sixteen captains, who were passed over the heads of a large number of other officers, thereby exciting the greatest possible dissatisfaction. The question raised by that debate being a very important one, he trusted it would be examined in a comprehensive manner, and one that would result in advantage to the service.
said, he thought the discussion that had taken place on the noble Lord's scheme was calculated to attract a good deal of attention. The noble Lord held that no general plan could be laid down for meeting this subject, but that means must be taken to ease the shoe where it happened to pinch at each particular moment. The opinions of the House, however, appeared to be in favour of viewing the question in a broader spirit. A non-professional mind could not help remarking that the cost to the country of 486 the retired list was very nearly equal to the entire charge for the officers who were now in active employment. That anomalous state of things existed, too, at a time when the navy afloat had been almost doubled within the last few years. The number of men now voted was between 85,000 and 86,000, whereas eight or nine years ago it was only between 40,000 and 50,000. With such a large increase in their force it might have been supposed there would not be much difficulty in promoting officers in the lower ranks; but they were told the fact was otherwise. The noble Lord gave a curious reason for the course he was about to take. He said he was going to promote commanders and lieutenants, but there stood an order in his way declaring that there should not be above one promotion for every three vacancies. Well, the natural, as well as the simplest course, would surely be to get rid of that order. The noble Lord, however, did not do that, but meant to create the vacancies instead, giving to a number of gentlemen an increased rate of pay, without regard to whether or not they had a fair claim to it, merely with a view to clear the way for the promotion of those below them. Would it not be far better to relax the order against the promotion of officers in the lower grades? When it had been strongly stated by his right hon. Friend, and confirmed by all the naval Members who had spoken, that there were captains in such a position that they would not serve because they would serve at a loss, it was pretty obvious that the whole service, both active and retired, required to be looked into in a large and comprehensive manner. We had now pretty nearly worn out the old French war list; and yet, although the navy had lately been greatly increased, the cost to the country for the unemployed was about equal to that for the employed. Whether that was remediable or not he could not tell; but it seemed to indicate that the arrangements of the service were very far from perfect, and the evil would hardly be cured by the bit-by-bit expedients suggested by the noble Lord.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, he wished to explain to the right hon. Gentleman that the crowded state of the half-pay list was not due to the present day at all, but was the result of past years. If any one looked at the lieutenant's list, comprising the young officers who had been promoted of late years—he would 487 find that almost every lieutenant upon it, who was fit to go to sea, was now in active employment. As his worthy and gallant brother Officer had told the House, they could not kill the elderly officers. He should, indeed, he very sorry to kill them, and would prefer that they should live in honour as long as it pleased God to spare them. It was all very well, therefore, to say the list was in an unsatisfactory state, and ought to he dealt with in a comprehensive manner, instead of by mere driblets; but it was impossible to get rid of the old admirals, old captains, old commanders, and old lieutenants. The right hon. Gentleman said that, if they dealt with the captains and commanders, it was but fair that they should deal in the same way with the admirals also. Why, it was asked, should they not carry their compulsory retirement for the junior ranks up to the admirals? Now, the admirals were in a totally distinct category. In the first place, they were necessarily officers of more distinguished service; and it became offensive to officers of their age to put them upon the retired list, unless that was absolutely unavoidable. The Admiralty did not find such a course to be necessary. They had plenty of young admirals, and they desired to have plenty of young captains and commanders likewise. When he was asked to produce a great and comprehensive scheme, he could only say that he did not think that such a scheme was proper at this time. Nor did he think the matter of sufficient magnitude to justify an inquiry by a Commission, as was asked for by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich. What he proposed was, a small boon to a certain number of officers, by which a flow of promotion, which was admitted on all hands to be desirable, would be created. Reference had been made to the hardship of not allowing mates' time to count; but if that were permitted, there could not be such short periods of service taken as at present; however, this point should receive the earnest consideration of the Admiralty. In former times officers served eight or ten years as mates, before receiving promotion; but that was not the case now, when every officer obtained promotion very soon after passing as mate. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir John Pakington) had given a touching recital of the hardships suffered by captains of line-of-battle ships from insufficient pay; and had stated that officers had refused employment, because they could not afford to 488 command a line-of-battle ship. He (Lord Clarence Paget) felt inclined to go some way in that expression of feeling, and was willing to admit that in some cases the pay of captains of line-of-battle ships did bear hardly upon individuals. Until within a few years the pay of captains graduated according to the size of the vessels they commanded; but in the late war it became necessary to employ some of the most distinguished and senior captains in vessels of light draught of water, and there arose complaints that while one officer commanded a frigate, another, who was his junior, commanded a line-of-battle ship, and had better pay. No doubt, the costs of living attaching to the command of a line-of-battle ship were great, but it should not be forgotten that of late years the Admiralty had done much for the captains. Formerly a captain had to go to a great expense in his outfit, but now he had nothing to take on board but his portmanteau. The Admiralty furnished almost everything—plate, furniture, linen, &c. He admitted there were some cases of hardship, but this was a question of expense, and it was the duty of the Government to economise the public money as far as was consistent with justice. He hoped that his right hon. Friend would not persist in his opposition to the Vote, as a great and comprehensive scheme would be a costly affair, and one that would not be certain of proving a permanent advantage to the navy.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
observed that, while the noble Lord called this a small boon, he asked the Committee to adopt it because it was so small. Would the noble Lord say what the cost to the country would be, and whether this Vote would cover the whole expense? [Lord CLARENCE PAGET: Yes.] Then, was it to be understood that if the Vote were agreed to it would involve the sanctioning of the scheme by the House? Because, if so, that could hardly be asked of the House, seeing that the scheme itself had only been published that morning, and its reception by the Committee had not been very gratifying. Before committing themselves to this scheme, time ought to be given for the consideration of it.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he fully concurred with the right hon. Baronet, and he hoped the scheme would be withdrawn, or he should feel it his duty to divide the Committee against it.
also complained of the little time allowed for consideration 489 of the scheme. The complaints of captains of line-of-battle ships which had been stated by his right hon. Friend were well-founded, but could easily be remedied by a graduated scale of table money.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he desired to say that the change in the pay of captains was made while he was at the Admiralty. According to the old rule officers, of whatever standing, were paid according to the rate of the ships in which they were employed. A complaint was made during the Russian war that it was impossible to put captains of high standing into frigates or small vessels in which they might most advantageously serve the country, because by so doing they received a lower rate of pay than other officers of less standing who commanded line-of-battle ships. It was strongly represented that if officers were paid under all circumstances according to their standing in the service it would facilitate the choice of captains for the work they were most fitted to undertake, and that on the whole no injustice would be done. While the war was going on, vessels of light draught being greatly in request, it was thought very desirable occasionally to appoint to the command of them captains of high standing, whom under the old system they could not have so employed. He did not mean to deny that the captain of a line-of-battle ship might be subjected to higher charges than a captain commanding a frigate. But there was no rule to which objections could not be urged; and this, on the whole, was considered by his naval colleagues an advantageous one.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, the plan had been adopted by the Admiralty without thought, and the sooner the old system was reverted to the better. He moved that the Chairman report progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, that after the opinions which had been expressed, he would beg to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of ,£12,000— the cost of the proposed scheme—with a view of postponing the consideration of the subject. He hoped the Committee would allow him to pass the reduced Estimate.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he had no objection whatever to the course pro- 490 posed by the noble Lord, and he sincerely hoped the scheme would never again be submitted to the House.
§ Motion and original Question, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The following Votes were then agreed to.
§ (5.) £679,262 Half-Pay.
§ (6.) £488,806, Military Pensions and Allowances.
§ (7.) £173,030, Civil Pension and Allowances.
§ (8.) £478,000, Freight of Ships, &c.
§ The House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.