§ (In the Committee.)
§ (1.) £4,400, Supplementary sum for Wages, &c. to Seamen and Marines.
§ MR. HUNT
said, that in moving the Navy Estimates last March he stated that he was anxious to improve the pay of the warrant officers of the Navy. A wish was expressed that he should do this in the present Estimates, and he now proposed to do so to a certain extent. There were now two classes of warrant officers—the first, who received 7s. 6d. a-day, and the second 5d. 6d. a-day. He proposed to adopt a progressive scale of pay according to the number of years' service. After the first five years' service he proposed to make a difference in the pay of the sea-going and other ships; under five years they would rise by degrees to 5s. 6d.; from five to 10 years they would receive 6s. 9d. in sea-going ships, and 6s. at home; and for 15 years and upwards 8s. 3d. for seagoing and 7s. 3d. for other ships, provided that no officer should receive a lower rate of pay than at present. He proposed that that increase should take effect on the 1st of October, and the Vote would only be for the half-year, so that the increase would be £8,800 for the year.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he was glad the right hon. Gentleman had been able to deal with this subject in the present Session. He had no objection to the increase; but presumed that the alterations would be described in an official document which would be laid upon the Table.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (2.) £1,300, Supplementary sum for Half-pay, Reserved and Retired Pay to Officers of the Navy and Marines.
§ MR. HUNT
said, that although the amount of this Vote was smaller than the last, it involved a much larger ques- 478 tion, which had attracted a great deal of attention among the profession—namely, the present stagnation of promotion. He stated during the discussion on the Navy Estimates that he had this question under his consideration, but that he was uncertain whether he should be able to deal with it this Session. He was happy to say that he had obtained the consent of the Treasury to the scheme which he would now briefly describe. The sum named in the Vote was very small, because it related to the extra expenditure incurred during the present financial year, and did not indicate the ultimate cost of the plan he proposed. He must admit that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers), when he brought forward his scheme in 1870, effected a very great reform in the Navy. His object was to diminish the numbers on the executive list of the Navy, and by the more constant employment of officers to make the Service more efficient. He (Mr. Hunt) by no means disapproved the general principle of this scheme, and believed that great benefit had been done to the Service. The right hon. Gentleman had acknowledged, however, that the expectations he had formed of the flow of promotion had not been realized, and that it was necessary to make some temporary provision to satisfy the demands of the Service as to promotion in the different ranks. The plan he had now to propose was of a temporary character, and he had endeavoured to work on the right hon. Gentleman's lines. On the 10th of June, 1873, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) said that his anticipation was that under his scheme there would be 7 flag vacancies, 15 vacancies of captains, and 30 vacancies of commanders in each year. According to the calculations made at present, however, there would be, during the next nine years, only 5½ flag vacancies, 7 captains' vacancies, and 9 commanders' vacancies. Every one who had considered the subject would admit that the vacancies which he had named were not sufficient to secure a proper flow of promotion in the Navy. The question had to be considered, not as personal to the officers, but as affecting the efficiency of the Service, and so great a stagnation of promotion must be admitted to be depressing to the Service and injurious to the public interest. The Committee were aware that the numbers authorized 479 by the Order in Council were 50 admirals of all ranks, 150 captains, 200 commanders, and 600 lieutenants. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) obtained an Order in Council to increase the number of lieutenants; but the others remained the same. If the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) had been successful, no doubt the stagnation would not have been so great as it was at present; but the fact was that, although the commanders' list had been cut down to 200, the captains' list, instead of being 150, as the right hon. Gentleman had expected, was now 174, while the admirals' list was five in redundance. What he proposed was that the Admiralty should promote 7 captains to flag rank every year—with this limitation, that the admirals' list should not exceed 68, and that if there were more vacancies than 7 those vacancies should not be filled up in that year, but should give promotion in the following year. With regard to promotion from the commanders' to the captains' list, he proposed that there should be, if possible, from 12 to 15 promotions to the captains' list every year. The additions to the flag list would assist that arrangement, and he proposed that the captains' list should not exceed 175. That should be the standard, and promotion should take place up to 15 a-year as long as the number of 175 was not exceeded. He proposed to take 225 as the standard number of commanders, instead of the present number of 200, and he thus hoped to get from 20 to 25 promotions for lieutenants every year. If, however, there were more than 25 vacancies, he did not propose to fill them up. He proposed, therefore, to get 7 promotions for captains, from 12 to 15 for commanders, and from 20 to 25 for lieutenants. He had had a calculation made as to what the effect of the scheme would be if carried on for 10 years, and it showed that, with regard to officers of flag rank, there this year 55, at the end of the year there would be 57, next year 59, the year after 62, the next 59, then 57; then the number would rise to 60, then to 64, and in 1882 to 68, which was the limit he put to the number of flag rank. In 1884 the number would fall to 67, and the next year to 66. According to the calculations made, in no one year would there be more than four additions to the list. It might, however, 480 owing to deaths or retirements, not be necessary to make the additions he had sketched out. Then, as regarded the captains list, there would be, according to the computation made, 175 in the year 1882, when they would fall to 173 in the next year, to 170 in the next, and to 165 in the next. Next he came to the commanders' list, which was now at 200. According to the calculation made the number even under the scheme he proposed would not be likely to exceed 216. It would go in this way—204, 206, 208, 211, and 215. There were, of course, in the calculation the elements of uncertainty to which he had referred—namely, deaths and voluntary retirements; but in making it, the rate of mortality for the same time in the same rank had been ascertained and adopted. Then, as to voluntary retirement, he thought the estimate was a low one. With reference to promotions from the captains' list, he was unable to say positively there would be 12 this year. He was only certain of 10; but it might happen, under ordinary circumstances, that there would be 12, and he took that number as the desired minimum, and 15 as the maximum; while in 10 years the estimated average would be 14. Of course, the number might fluctuate, as the Committee were aware that in the Navy, as in other professions, men who got to the top of their profession lived longer than the general run of the public. As regarded commanders, the calculation was that for 10 years there would be an average promotion of 20½ a-year from the rank of lieutenant, the maximum being 25, and the desired minimum 20. For the next two years there would be no great difficulty in maintaining the number of promotions, as he was at liberty during that time to make additions to the list. Of course, however, if vacancies were caused by optional retirements, there would be no necessity to make those additions. As that was the more desirable way, what he proposed was to lower the age of optional retirement for admirals, vice-admirals, rear-admirals, and captains by five years. At present the ages were, for admirals, 60; for vice and rear-admirals, 55; and for captains, 50. He proposed to lower the respective ages to 55, 50, and 45. He would, however, limit the number to three admirals and six captains. This he did on financial grounds, and as an inducement to make 481 the scheme available he proposed that those who did so should be entitled, according to seniority, to one step in rank, without any qualifying service. He further proposed that the principle should apply to officers who had been retired under the scheme of 1870. Then, with respect to the cost of the scheme, if it were found necessary to go up to the maximum numbers, the cost would be a little under £10,000 a-year. "With regard to optional retirement, the cost in the case of admirals would be about £4,000 a-year ultimately, the expense in the present year being the sum stated in the Resolution in the hands of the Chairman. He had no precise estimate as to the cost of the retirement of captains. It should be borne in mind that the expense incurred one way would be diminished by the lesser expense incurred in another. There would be a certain amount of expenditure incurred under the head of optional retirements; but, on the other hand, there would be less expenditure by additions to the lists in the way of promotions. He hoped that the scheme of the Government would give a reasonable amount of satisfaction to the Service at no very great increase of cost. He was aware it was not likely to give entire satisfaction to all those who looked for something greater, and who thought that every officer in the Service was entitled to promotion. It was impossible under the existing system that every officer could obtain promotion. Some must be content to leave the Service or remain in it in the comparatively lower ranks. He had proposed a scheme which he thought, considering the numbers on the lists and his desire for the efficiency of the Service, would be acceptable to those who were tolerably reasonable in their demands, and would meet with the approbation of the Committee.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
asked whether the numbers were the same as proposed by the right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers)?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
preferred to look at the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman in a broad light. It was comparatively a matter of indifference whether 482 there were 10 officers more or less on the lists provided they were fairly agreed upon broad and general principles. He had listened to the statement just made with considerable satisfaction, because the right hon. Gentleman had very candidly stated that he intended to abide by the general policy of the retirement scheme of 1870. He (Mr. Goschen) should have felt great regret if, five years after the inauguration of the scheme of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers), the right hon. Gentleman opposite had overthrown the principles then laid down. The right hon. Gentleman was invited to consider proposals that officers who had retired should be brought back to the active lists. If that had been done it would have caused great heartburnings, and the great object of the scheme of his right hon. Friend would have been broken down. He (Mr. Goschen) was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had shown the firmness to stand by the general policy of keeping the lists within moderate dimensions, and of keeping the system of retirement with only moderate modifications to meet a temporary emergency. His proposals approximated very closely to those made by the right hon. Member for Pontefract in a previous debate on the subject. They were moderate, and might, he considered, be accepted by the Committee. With regard to optional retirement, he presumed the right hon. Gentleman changed the age and encouraged optional retirement, a course of which he (Mr. Goschen) entirely approved—in order to be be able to keep down the lists, and in that respect he quite appreciated the right hon. Gentleman's policy. He considered it to be of great importance that the general proportions of the lists should be recognized by both sides of the House; that they should be supported by the successive Administrations; and that the idea should not be created that it was a matter which was to be continually reopened. With regard to the retired officers, it had been constantly urged upon the Admiralty by officers who wished to retire that to give them a step in rank would cost the Admiralty nothing whilst it would give them great satisfaction. But there had always been this difficulty—that unless they went back for many years they would be giving these officers seniority in rank over those who had previously retired, and would create 483 a grievance. Remonstrances had been addressed to the late Board of Admiralty on this subject, and those who had served a longer time felt dissatisfaction that those who had served a shorter time should have obtained the step in rank. He was glad that the First Lord of the Admiralty had dealt with the subject in language so guarded; but he (Mr. Goschen) had thought it right to refer to this question of the relative rank of officers.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he was glad to know that the stagnation of promotion which had so long existed would, to a considerable extent, be relieved. His right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty deserved the thanks of the Navy for this alteration, and those thanks would be freely rendered to the Government which had sanctioned this plan. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goschen), in order to give a gentle fall to the system of 1870, had said that the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman now at the head of the Admiralty were on the same lines as that system, but such was not the fact. The lieutenants, who were the backbone of the Navy, had of late had no promotion whatever; but now every individual among them would know that he was going to have a chance. This was very satisfactory, and he was confident that the officers of the Navy would receive it as the greatest possible boon. There was one feature of the system of 1870 to which he must allude. One effect of it had been to increase enormously the cost of the retired list. Men—many of them between 30 and 40 years of age—were placed on the retired list—that was to say, in a position where they were not liable for future service, and were actually paid more than men on the half-pay list, who were still liable to be called upon to serve. He was sorry that the system of 1870 in this respect was not to be altogether reversed; but he gladly recognized that the step which it had boon resolved to take was a step in the right direction.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
was of opinion that the scheme of the First Lord of the Admiralty proceeded on the same lines as that of the right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers). The right hon. and gallant Member who had last spoken was inconsistent in approving the scheme, and, at the same time, maintain- 484 ing that the principle of compulsory retirement—a principle fully adhered to by that scheme—ought to be done away with.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
explained that he disapproved of compulsory retirement, except in cases of inefficiency.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
would give his support to the scheme, it being essentially the same as that of the late Government. A point to which he wished to draw attention was the danger arising from an increase of the number of cadets. One main object of all these schemes should be to keep down the number of entries. The excess entry of cadets for the 10 years before 1869, as compared with the entry since that year, at the rate of over 100 per annum, would entail upon the country an ultimate cost of from £3,000,000 to £4,000,000.
joined the Committee generally in acknowledging the consideration shown by the First Lord of the Admiralty towards a portion of the officers of the Royal Navy; but, at the same time, it was to be regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had left out in the cold an important branch of the Navy—namely, the Royal Marines. The reason assigned by the right hon. Gentleman for the delay in dealing with their case was, that nothing could be done until the Commission on Army Purchase made their Report. That statement showed that it was the Treasury, and not the right hon. Gentleman, who were at fault in the matter. The First Lord had himself evinced a desire to take the question of the promotion and pay of the Royal Marines into consideration; but he was held back by the Treasury, who would not allow him to place the necessary sum on the Estimates. So that the probability was that for another 12 months the officers of this corps would remain under a sense of injustice and neglect, until the Commission reported, and then, no doubt, they would not be content to make the very moderate demand which they now submitted, but would considerably increase that demand, to meet which extra expense would be incurred by the Government as the consequence of their not dealing with the case now.
§ COLONEL NORTH
was glad to have the opportunity of bearing his testimony to the distinguished gallantry of the Royal Marines, than which troops there 485 were none more loyal and brave in Her Majesty's service. When they looked at the lists and saw that numbers of the officers of the Royal Marines had served 17 years in the rank of captain, with no hope held out to them of promotion, he must say it was a disgrace to the Service, and a scandal in the opinion of the country. He deeply regretted it, and he must again say that it was shameful that such a brave set of men should be so neglected and treated by the Admiralty.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
dissented from the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) that the scheme proposed by the present First Lord of the Admiralty was the same as that of the right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers). The scheme of the latter altogether did away with the esprit de corps of the officers, and if it were in force there would be no promotion at all in the Navy this year. With regard to the officers of the Royal Marines, he sympathized with them in their feelings about the manner they had been treated. The extent of the time at which the officers of the Royal Marines were told they might retire was so great—namely 70 years, that there was no hope of promotion for them. He considered it ought to be reduced to the same limit as that of the officers of the Navy.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
congratulated the Government and also thanked them for what they had done in regard to promotion in the Navy. He regretted that the officers of the Royal Marines should have been so treated. The noble Lord who had just sat down had stated that the extent of the service of the officers of the Royal Marines was such that there could be no hope of promotion for them. That was a most regretful state of things. It might be that the finances of the country were in such a state as not to admit of their promotion; but he trusted that that was not the case. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty would consider the case of those gallant officers, and not allow such a meritorious class of brave men to be longer neglected.
§ MR. E. J. REED
said, the Committee were being called upon to vote money to gallant gentlemen for meritorious service, though the merit of their receiving it consisted in their doing nothing. Suc- 486 cessive Governments had bestowed their sympathies upon those octogenarians, who could do nothing, to the injury of younger men. The right hon. and gallant Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay) was not present at the moment, and therefore he would take the opportunity of saying that it was a shame and a discredit that so right hon. and gallant an Officer should be forced to be on the retired list against his own wish and that of the country whom he was willing to service. The feelings of the Service were hurt by this block in the higher list, which kept men like the right hon. and gallant Member out of active service. In his opinion, it was an offence to the common sense of the country to have two lists of officers, those upon one list being officers whom the Crown could call upon to serve, whilst those upon the other could not be so called on, and to pay gentlemen considerable sums to induce them to retire from the first on to the second list. As to the proposals of the First Lord of the Admiralty, he thought them, so far as they went, moderate and well-considered.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
expressed his deep sympathy with the gallant officers of the Royal Marines, and said it was not very long ago since the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Admiralty gave them hope that he would consider their case and give promotion in their ranks, and also to the officers of the Royal Navy; but the case of the naval officers was alone proposed to be considered. The scheme which the right hon. Gentleman had developed of lowering the age of retirement of officers in the Navy ought to be extended with equal consideration to the officers of the Royal Marines. The age fixed for the compulsory retirement of the Marine generals was considerably more advanced than that at present fixed for the corresponding ranks of the admirals, and the new proposal to lower that age for the retirement of naval officers would create a still greater discrepancy between the military and naval officers. Considering that the Marines had always been treated as a part of the Navy, it appeared only just to assimilate the retiring advantages as well as the disadvantages of the admirals and generals of both services. In this case, the same extra outlay now proposed to be incurred for the acceleration of the rise of naval 487 officers ought to be used for advancing the Marine officers, especially the captains and subalterns of Marines, in which rants the slowness of rise was most marked. The only course to be adopted in the Marines to secure a due flow of promotions through all grades of the Marines was by inducing the senior ranks to retire, or by enlarging the seniority list so that officers might be placed on that list without losing their position in the corps in which they had served. The proposal of waiting till the present Commission on Army Promotion and Retirement reported would delay the remedies for the present slow promotion of Marines for some time. The difficulty of dealing with their grievances would be enhanced by waiting for the Report of the Commission on Purchase in the Army. The proportion of superior officers in the Infantry was far in excess of that of the Marines. It would thon be found that the organization of the Infantry was so entirely different from that of the Marines, it would be declared inexpedient to incur the very heavy expenditure which must follow by assimilating the numbers and ranks of all grades of officers in the Marines to those of the Infantry of the Line. The entire corps of Marines, when compared with the regiments of Infantry with an equal strength of privates as in the Marines, would be found to be singularly economical, owing to the grades of officers in Marines being, to the number of privates, much smaller than in the Infantry. It would be far better to deal with the Marines at once, and apply the simple remedy to meet the existing evil of stagnation in promotion by inducing senior officers to retire.
§ MR. HUNT
was fully alive to the want of promotion in the Marines, but until the Commission now sitting upon Promotion and Retirement in the Army had made their Report, the Treasury were unwilling to consider any question relating to this subject. The view taken at the Treasury was that, though the Marines formed part of the Navy, the question of promotion in that corps and promotion in the Army bore one upon another. Probably if he were now at the Treasury he should take the same view. At all events, he was powerless in the matter. He wanted no urging to do anything, and no one would be more glad than himself when he was able to do for 488 the Marines what had been done for the Navy. With regard to naval cadets, the last entry was 52. He agreed entirely in the propriety of checking accumulations in the Navy List by stopping the flow at the source. It must be remembered, however, that it had been finally determined to make no more navigating officers, and it was necessary, therefore, to enter a larger number of cadets than would otherwise have been required in order to provide the requisite number of officers for navigating duties. The number of cadets entered under his direction was less than that which had been suggested as necessary. He thought, however, an actuarial calculation was necessary, and he proposed to have such a calculation, so as to be certain that the proper limit was not exceeded for feeding the higher ranks of the Service.
§ MR. BENTINCK
endorsed the view which had been expressed by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Reed) as to the hardship of forcing officers into a position where they could no longer serve their country, and complained of the wretched system of parsimony which possessed the House of Commons when dealing with the Army and Navy. When our soldiers and sailors were fighting the battles of their country they were lauded to the skies, while at other times the House of Commons haggled over half-pence, squabbled about pay and pensions, and kept the Services at starving point. His right hon. Friend gave, as a reason for doing nothing, the fact that a Royal Commission was sitting. He hoped the time would soon come when the country would cease to be governed by Royal Commissions, and when responsibility would rest, as it ought to rest, upon the Government, instead of being evaded by them by means of Royal Commissions.
§ MR. SAMPSON LLOYD
reminded the right hon. Gentleman that no officer of the Marines was a member of the Commission, while, so far as he knew, no witness had been examined on the part of this corps. If so, the mere fact that such a Commission was sitting could not justify the continuance of the present state of things in the Marines. He was convinced, from his knowledge of the working men of this country, that if a plébiscite were taken they would be found wholly opposed to such miserable pay and position as were now 489 given to meritorious officers in the Marines, after lengthened service. "Working men disliked sinecures, and were jealous of jobs; but they were as patriotic and as anxious that public servants should be properly paid as any class of men in the country. Officers in the Marines had an undoubted grievance; and their case would, he hoped, receive the most earnest consideration of the Government.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
appealed to the First Lord of the Treasury to endeavour to sway the Treasury so as to induce them to deal with the question. The Royal Commission as to the Army would really not deal with the Marine force. The Government had been liberal to the Navy, and he hoped that the Marines, who were an integral part of the Navy, would be treated with equal liberality. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for London (Mr. Goschen) led the country to believe that he intended to restore the rank of major in the Royal Marines; and yet, although the rank was restored to the Royal Engineers and Royal Artillery, the Marines were still deprived of that rank. The change would hardly add anything to the public charge, because those promoted to the substantive rank of major in the Marines were brevet majors in the Army.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, the feeling, with regard to the Marines was, that they were supposed not to belong to the Navy or the Army; and the consequence was that, unless great care was taken, neither of the two great Departments of the State would care for the Marines. He was sure that the present First Lord of the Admiralty would do his best on all occasions for the Royal Marines, and the officers well deserved fair consideration. They were not represented by any officer of the corps at the War Office, and there was no Marine officer on the Board of Admiralty.
§ COLONEL NAGHTEN
was glad to find that the cause of the officers of the Royal Marines had attracted the attention of the Committee. Great dissatisfaction existed amongst them with regard to their present position; but they were forbidden from publicly expressing it.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £1,322,069, for Dockyards and Naval Yards at Home and Abroad.490
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he must enter his protest against the deferring the consideration of the Naval Estimates to so late a period of the Session. During the last six years it had only once occurred that such important Votes were taken so late, and that was in 1871, which was an exceptional year. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Admiralty ought to explain to the Committee in greater detail the cause of the large discrepancy between his programme last year and the work completed within the year. In introducing the Estimates this year the right hon. Gentleman told the House that according to the Estimates of last year, 19,962 tons were to be built either in the dockyard or by contract. There was, however, a deficiency of not fewer than 4,704 tons. Taking the dockyards only, the Estimate was 14,171 tons, but the work done was only 11,304 tons, and therefore there was a deficiency of 2,867 tons. It was a very remarkable fact that though there was an increase of upwards of 2,000 men in the dockyards as compared with the last year but one, the amount of tonnage built was less. In the past six years there was no year in which so small an amount of tonnage had been built in the dockyards. Last year, when the right hon. Gentleman made some very disparaging remarks as to the condition of the Navy, he asked for £150,000 additional to be expended on the Invincible, the Superb, and the Shannon, and on two new vessels of the Shannon class. According to the original Estimates of last year they were to be advanced 1,500 tons, and according to the Supplementary Estimates 700 tons additional; but 1,120 tons only were completed during the year, or only half what was intended. In the repairing of ships there was an equal deficiency. He could only conjecture that the employment of an increased number of men in a dockyard gave rise to increased demands for the repair of yachts, dockyard tugs, stationary ships, and vessels of that description. Indeed, useless work of this kind appeared to be always going on in in our dockyards. He would recommend that there should be a larger amount of contract work instead of an increase of men in the dockyards. Another explanation of what had occurred was that there had been to some extent a change of policy under the present 491 Administration with regard to the recall of vessels from foreign squadrons, and the increase of expenditure was likewise in some respects due to the change of armament, which in many cases had not been beneficial. The Committee were entitled to a better explanation of the deficiency of work as compared with the programme of last year. He approved of the increase of the salaries of the master shipwrights in the dockyards, and he would suggest whether something ought not to be done in the way of giving honours to these officers. In the French dockyards the principal officers ranked immediately after the Admiral Superintendent, and they were generally decorated with some order. It appeared to him that the position of the master shipwrights was inferior to what it ought to be, and he thought it worthy of consideration whether something should not be done to increase their status and improve their position.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
inferred from the absence of the Leader of the Opposition that the noble Marquess was of opinion that the other Business of the House had necessarily led to a delay in the discussion of these Estimates. The hon. Member for Reading had taken great pains to ascertain the sums which had been voted in various years, and the mode in which those sums had been applied. He would now quote a few figures bearing on the point. He would first take the question of money, and then the question of tonnage. In 1865–6 the sum voted for building purposes was £1,162,000, and the sum expended was £840,000. 'In 1866–7 the sum voted was £855,000, and the sum expended £721,000. In 1867–8 the sum voted was £1,280,000, and the sum expended £1,265,000. That was the only year in which the Estimate and the expenditure approached each other. In 1868–9 the sum voted was £1,204,000, and the sum expended £1,137,000. In 1869–70 the sum voted was £1,080,000, and the sum expended £953,000. In 1870–1 the sum voted was £1,104,000, and the sum expended £951,000. In 1871–2 the sum voted was £1,054,000, and the sum expended £887,000. In 1872–3 the sum voted was £784,000, and the sum expended £596,000. The right hon. Gentleman now at the head of the Admiralty felt some alarm at the state of the Navy, and proposed the largest Esti- 492 mate that had ever been laid before the Committee—the sum of £1,364,000, and the sum expended was £1,117,000. Then with respect to the tonnage. In 1865–6 the estimated amount of tonnage was 21,000, and the amount built 16,000. In 1866–7 the estimated tonnage was 18,263, and the amount built 15,384. In 1867–8 the estimated tonnage was 33,206, and the amount built 33,701. In 1868–9 the estimated amount was 29,000 tons, and of that only 27,000 were built. In 1869–70 the estimated amount was 22,000 tons, but in that year there were 24,000 tons built. In 1870–1 the estimated amount was 23,000 tons, and of that only 19,000 were built. In 1871–2 the estimated amount was 21,000 tons, the whole of which were built. In 1872–3 the estimated amount was 21,267, and of that only 16,000 were built, being 5,175 tons loss. That was a year for which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) was responsible. In 1873–4 the estimated amount was 19,000 tons, and of that 17,000 only were built. In 1874–5 the estimated amount was 19,797 tons, of which only 16,480 were built. The hon. Member for Reading had made so extravagant a statement that he (Sir John Hay) felt it necessary to submit the facts he had done, and to show that the present First Lord had been bound in honour to make the statement which he had made as to the condition of the Navy, and as to the extraordinary efforts he had made to improve it.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, the right hon. and gallant Member for Stamford seemed to claim credit for the present Government on the ground that they had spent more money on the Navy than any Government of recent years. But the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had not complained that the present Board did not spend money enough, but that they did not show sufficient results for the money so spent. What the hon. Member for Reading asked was this—"You, the Government, have asked for a larger sum of money, and you have engaged a larger number of men, and we want to know what adequate amount of work have you turned out of the dockyards?" There had been no answer given to that question. No doubt it would be said that a very large sum had been spent upon repairs; but that 493 was not a sufficient explanation. The Government would have to make plain how it was that having last year promised to build 14,000 tons, they had only built 11,000 tons, and were thus 3,000 tons in arrear. The Committee had a right to inquire why the work for which money had been voted had not been done. His own opinion was that the whole of the money asked for fighting ships ought to be spent upon building fighting ships, and ought not to be frittered away in the dockyards.
§ MR. HUNT
remarked that the statement of the hon. Member for Reading invited them into controversial matters, which he was anxious to avoid. It was true that the shipbuilding programme of the Government during the past year was not fulfilled, as he stated when he introduced the Navy Estimates in March. He was told that the excuse that so many men had been employed upon repairs would not serve him, because the completion of ships under repair was behindhand. But how did that arise? Last year he was very much taken to task for saying that he would not have ships upon paper, and that they should be real and effective, and not dummies. He had been endeavouring to make good that assertion. There was an extraordinary number of fighting ships under repair last year—the Warrior, the Defence, the Resistance, the Hector, the Minotaur, the Achilles, the Black Prince, and the Valiant; and those eight ironclads, until they had been put in a proper state of repair, were more or less dummies. When the work came to be done it turned out that the cost of repairing the ships approached very nearly their original cost. It was, perhaps, as well to remark that the original Estimate was prepared, not by the present representatives of the Naval branch of the Government, but by their predecessors. That was the reason why the Government had been unable to build the amount of tonnage laid down in their programme. They were told, again, that they had added a considerable number of men to the Estimates without showing a corresponding amount of work done. Well, in explanation of that circumstance, he had only to mention that it was impossible to get the additional men all at once, and they had been without them for a long time, though they had now been ob- 494 tained. Last year he pointed out that there were always contingencies to be provided for, and that to meet those contingencies men were taken off the new ships. This year he had endeavoured to obviate that evil by providing a number of men expressly for contingencies. It was too early in the day to boast; but he had been told by his professional advisers that the programme of work had never been so nearly up to the estimate for a great many years past as it was during the current year. That fact he attributed to the precaution of taking men for contingencies. A remark had been made that whilst last year he gave a lugubrious picture of the Navy, this year he seemed to be tolerably satisfied. He was more satisfied, not because things were perfect, but because they were mending. He denied that they were very much the same as last year. He did not take all the credit, or anything like all the credit, for this improvement, for he had always admitted that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, his predecessor at the Admiralty, had endeavoured to put matters straight, and when he took office he found that some improvements had been effected. But he had to point out to the Committee that last year the Government were unable to send a reserve squadron to sea. It was true they sent out ships singly to exercise the reserve men; but there were not seaworthy ships enough to form a squadron. That appeared to him to be a very grave state of things. Now, this year there was a reserve squadron at sea, and but for the additional men that were taken on last year, they would not have been in a position to send out the same number of ships or to supply so many reliefs. He did not say things were perfect or all that he could wish; neither did he contend that the improvement which had taken place was altogether owing to the change of Government, but things were mending very considerably, and therefore there was good reason for adopting a more complacent tone in speaking of the Navy.
§ MR. SAMUDA
observed, that during the past 10 years the amount of work done had fallen 25,000 tons below the Estimates, and that the only time when there was no deficiency was when Mr. Corry was at the head of the Admiralty. He urged the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hunt) 495 not to rely too much on calculations as to what a certain number of men would do. The number of men this year when there were 14,000 tons to be built was only a fraction above what it was last year, when the building of less than 12,000 tons was contemplated; and, under these circumstances, how was it possible, he asked, that the programme could be carried out? At the present moment eight ironclads were building in the dockyards and two in private yards. Two of the vessels laid down were of a perfectly new type, and although he was bound to admit, after having had an interview with the Chief Constructor, that they had a number of most ingenious and admirable arrangements, which would prevent the defects to which, in ignorance of the facts, he had in a former speech alluded, still he thought that their cruising qualities had been sacrificed. He wished to press upon the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Admiralty that, when all other nations of Europe were considerably increasing the sea-going character of their cruisers of the fighting class, we could not afford to dispense with an augmentation of that particular class so as to keep up the immense superiority we had at present over all those different nations of Europe. The increase of that class was the more important from what had been said as to our inability to send our squadrons to sea.
§ MR. BENTINCK
quite agreed with the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) that it was most unfortunate that the Navy Estimates had been postponed till so late a period of the Session. Neither the late nor the present Government had done much to improve the lamentable state of things in the Navy. He admitted that the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) had done his best, and that his right hon. Friend the present First Lord was doing his best to improve the wretched state of things; but the result was so infinitesimal, and so inadequate to the requirements of the Navy, that it simply amounted to nothing. He asked his right hon. Friend the First Lord if he believed that, taking into account the state of the armaments of Europe, and taking into consideration that, by civilian interference, their Army had been reduced to a cipher, the Navy of this country was in such a state, in 496 point of efficiency and numbers, as to secure at all times the security of the country and the maintenance of its honour? In this country they had, he believed, about six weeks' provisions for the whole population, and if war broke out they would be in the position of a besieged town if they had not a sufficiency of light sea-going ships to protect their commerce. If they lost the command of the sea the result would be that in six weeks they would be reduced to starvation. We were devoting too much science to the construction of floating batteries without regard to their sailing qualities; our ironclads, from their shape and form, were useless as sailing ships; the majority of them could not be classed as sea-going ships; we could not make sailors on board of them; and he would suggest that they should be kept in dock, and that we should have a Channel Squadron of sailing ships to train sailors to be put on board the ironclads when their services were required.
§ MR. E. J. REED
joined in the protest at the Vote being taken at a time when discussion was impossible, and pointed out that the departure of Governments from their building programmes was concurrent with their practical escape from Parliamentary control by the postponement of Estimates to the end of the Session. He thought there was much ground for congratulation with reference to the speeches which had proceeded from both sides of the House. Large sums had been granted yearly for several years past by Parliament for the purpose of supplying the country with a thoroughly effective Navy; but the precise manner in which the expenditure took place had been, to a great degree, beyond the control of Parliament. The monies granted for the purposes of the construction of the Navy were divisible into two main portions—that part which went for the purposes of building ships, and that part which was devoted to their repairs. It was impossible to anticipate correctly the amount of money which would be needed for repairs. It might be possible to draw up a certain programme, and to put down in that programme a list of the ships that it was intended to repair, but it might also happen that the Estimate which had been formed would prove defective, and thus an outlay upon repairs beyond that which had been 497 asked from Parliament might be found necessary. If this uncertainty were allowed to extend itself to the building of ships also, then it became still clearer that something like a distinct understanding should be come to with the Government as to the apportionment of the grants. In the course of the discussion which had taken place that evening they had heard a great deal upon the subject of tonnage. He had amused himself a short time ago, during the dull portion of a speech, by calculating the price per ton on the construction of certain ships of war. He had calculated that the price per ton for the Superb was £51, for the Temeraire the same price per ton, for the Euryalus £72 per ton, and for the Garnet £67 per ton. These amounts varied so much that he should wish to point out that if all the Committee asked was that the Government should build a certain amount of tonnage, the Admiralty should submit a more specific Estimate as to the proportion of the grant that was to be appropriated to special classes of these vessels of war. He thought it was a somewhat extraordinary thing that the Committee should be asked to sanction the construction of two very peculiar ironclads without any more specific knowledge than that they were to be something like the Inflexible. That vessel was of a peculiar type, a kind of vessel to which he had given great consideration while he was at the Admiralty; but he had not put forth a plan, because it required so many check calculations, and because there were some features in connection with it which gave him some anxiety. He did not say that because he doubted the constructive power of the authorities at the Admiralty; but because the vessel was of so singular and peculiar a typo. He had not seen a model of these ships, though he admitted the courtesy of the right hon. Gentleman in affording facilities for viewing models at the Admiralty; but he would counsel that great care should be observed in the construction of these vessels. He would ask the Committee whether the position of the master shipwrights or Chief Constructors as they were now called, should not be improved; but their position was constantly depressed through naval officers being appointed as superintendents of the dockyards. However, the course now pursued at the dockyards resulted 498 in a large waste of public money, and he would suggest that the master shipwrights should have more power to prevent it. He did not make these observations with the view of obstructing the Vote, but to secure more careful attention to the question. The hon. Member (Mr. Bentinck) sometimes made strong statements and sometimes modified them on re-consideration, and he would remind the hon. Gentleman that it was one thing to say that a ship sailed badly and another to say that she was useless, and in this latter respect he thought the hon. Gentleman had spoken too strongly.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
said, that although many faults had been attributed to our ships, yet, taken as a whole, our Fleet was very efficient and powerful, and, in his opinion, our naval architects and designers deserved the greatest credit for what they had done. What the Navy really wanted was a larger number of first-class cruisers of the Active, Volage, and Shah type, possessing great speed, to be rigged as frigates, and able to keep at sea for a long time, to stand weather well and carry heavy guns. War was very different now from what it was 10 years ago. If we went to war now it would be a matter of a fortnight, and this is where we should suffer. The enemy would send out three or four cruisers, which in that space of time would inflict a vast amount of damage on our commerce, for it should be remembered that we did the carrying business of the world. We ought to have cruisers which could go at the same pace as the great steamers engaged in the merchant service—namely, from 13 to 15 knots an hour. He found, however, that we possessed only 34 cruisers. Twenty-one of these would go from 9 to 11 knots; 12 could go from 11 to 12 knots; and only 6 could go from 12 to 15 knots. Thus we had only six vessels that could attain the speed requisite—namely, 15 knots—for the protection of our commerce in the event of our going suddenly to war. He hoped a large number of ships of this description would be added to the Navy. No nation would be imprudent enough to run its head against our ironclad fleet; but it would send out cruisers to attack our trade. He was glad to learn that nine new cruisers were to be built, two of which would soon be finished; but he should have been 499 greater pleased if the number had been 69. These cruisers would be particularly valuable to protect vessels going into our coaling stations. He hoped that the Admiralty would give their attention to this matter, which, he submitted, was one of great importance.
said, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to a matter of considerable importance and interest both to his own constituents and the country at large—namely, the discontent which existed amongst the men employed in the dockyards. His predecessor (Admiral Elliot), in a previous Session, had brought the subject before the House, and there was then a promise that it should have serious and earnest consideration. He wished to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he would give the Committee the result of the inquiries which he had made in reference to the matter? He did not wish to bring it forward as a mere dockyard workman's grievance, but as a question of the economical expenditure of public money. The money voted could not be economically expended if the workmen were in a state of dissatisfaction. For some time there had been considerable dissatisfaction among all classes of workmen employed in the dockyards; though he did not think that it was at all necessary that men who were in the employ of the Government should be in a chronic state of discontent. It was not so in private firms. One ground for the discontent in Government Yards was because they did not treat all the men alike; and, indeed, the great complaint was that there was an unnecessary inequality. The first great inequality was in dividing the men into establishment and non-establishment workmen. Men who had worked side by side in the dockyards for the same number of years found themselves in this position. One had been lucky enough to get upon the establishment whilst the other had not been so lucky, and the consequence was that their positions were entirely different. They were differently regarded, had different trust in the town; one looked forward to a pension, whilst the other had no hope of such a thing. There was another ground of discontent, and that was founded upon this, that promotion in the dockyards was supposed to be based entirely upon competitive examinations. 500 Promotion upon this system, however, was not fairly carried out; because it was found impossible to trust entirely to the result of competitive examination, and there were personal marks given to the men which really made the system of competitive examination a mere sham. He should not object to promotion being made by persons who were responsible to the House; but in the dockyards they had neither promotion by strict competitive examination, nor promotion by persons who were responsible to the House. He hoped to be able to bring the matter under the attention of the House under more favourable circumstances next Session.
§ MR. E. J. REED
considered that the system of examination at the dockyards was one of the fairest that could be devised. There was one point he wished to call the attention of the First Lord to, and that was with reference to the case of a number of skilled labourers who only got pensions of an inferior class. The fault, he believed, rested with the Treasury.
§ MR. WHALLEY
was anxious that some steps should be taken to utilize the private yachts of the country as a sort of Naval Volunteer body. He condemned the sending of ironclads to sea for the training of our seamen.
§ DR. KENEALY
said, he coincided in the sentiment that it was extremely inconvenient to hon. Members, and it was discreditable to the system of government in this country, that at this late period of the Session and at this late hour of the night they should be called upon to discuss Votes of this importance, and without any adequate excuse being given. Such proceedings were not calculated to raise the House of Commons in the opinion of the country. He could tell hon. Gentlemen that there was beginning to be felt a widespread spirit of dissatisfaction and disaffection that two of the most important branches of the administration of the country—namely, the Navy and the Indian Revenue—should be put off to the latest possible period of the Session, and when the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) brought forward his Motion complaining of this being the case he should give him his warm support.
I beg to point out that the question before the Committee is the Vote for the Dockyards, 501 and it has nothing to do with the Indian Revenue.
§ DR. KENEALY
I do not intend to anticipate any discussion that may take place on the Indian Budget. I am pointing out what I think I am quite in Order in doing. ["Order!"] I intend and will point it out. ["Order!"] I repeat I intend and will point out that the country is justly dissatisfied that important questions of this kind are thrust upon us at a period of the Session when hon. Members, such as the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), are obliged to go down on their knees and apologize for doing their duty to their constituents. I am not going to do it. [Laughter.] I believe I am addressing English Gentlemen, and I hope they will allow me, as representing a large and independent constituency—[Laughter]—I repeat a large, independent, and most honourable constituency, who will have to pay this taxation—to express some views on this matter, and the more especially as the House knows I do not often intrude myself upon it. Now, the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) is a prophet, and he is the most dangerous of prophets, because he is a respectable prophet, and he says that we do not know when there may be an outbreak of a general war. I always notice that when the Administration comes and asks for Votes for either the Army or the Navy, there are military and naval prophets—and there are respectable prophets who are neither naval nor military—who begin to anticipate a general European war. I know something of the state of Europe, and after careful consideration of it, I am quite unable to see any symptoms of this general outbreak with which we are threatened. Russia is not going to war with this country, unless this country shall be insane enough, and sometimes I think this country is quite capable of any amount of insanity—especially when certain portions turn their heads upon the Orton theory—I say that Russia is not going to war with us, unless England interferes with the proper, legitimate, and rational designs she has upon Turkey. ["Order!"]
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
I rise to Order, and submit that it is not competent for the Member to raise a discussion on the general policy of Europe.
The question is the Vote for the Dockyards, and it is not competent for the hon. Member to raise a question of general policy.
§ DR. KENEALY
I am endeavouring, if I can, to dispel from the mind of the hon. Member for West Norfolk any clouds of alarm and terror which he may have in reference to this impending European war, which seems to terrify him so much. I hope to be able to show that the hen. Member's assertions are made for the purpose of seducing the Committee into an easy compliance with the present Vote.
I have already intimated to the hon. Member that the question before the Committee is the Vote for the Dockyards, and it is not in Order for him to raise a general discussion about a European war, because of some chance expression which may have fallen from the hon. Member for West Norfolk.
§ DR. KENEALY
The hon. Member for West Norfolk speaks about there only being six weeks' provisions in case of war. I am surprised that a Gentleman of his great experience should imagine that this country could by any possibility of means be driven into such a condition. The hon. Member was followed by the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Reed) who gave the House a dissertation on the construction of ships, but I hope the Committee will not be led away by the arguments used.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £1,261,000, for Naval Stores for building, repairing, and outfitting the Fleet and Coast Guard.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, it would be a farce to enter into a discussion of the items contained in the Vote at the present period of the Session and at so late an hour, and he trusted that if the Vote was allowed to be taken in silence on the present occasion it would not be considered as a precedent for the future.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (5.) £902,608, for Steam Machinery and Ships building by Contract.503
(6.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £652,751, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of New Works, Buildings, Machinery, and Repairs, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1876.
§ MR. EDWARDS
moved to reduce the Vote by the sum of £8,000 towards the erection of a College for naval cadets at Dartmouth.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £644,751, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of New Works, Buildings, Machinery, and Re-pairs, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1876."—(Mr. Edwards.)
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, there were certain questions connected with Chatham Dockyard which he should have liked to have seen discussed; but after what had been said by the First Lord he felt it would be useless to make any remarks that evening.
§ DR. KENEALY
said, the country would hear with very great surprise the statement of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Admiralty that the Session was so late and the hour so late that there was no time to discuss Votes which were of very large amount. He begged to move that the Chairman should report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—504
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ (7.) £145,088, for Greenwich Hospital and School.
§ MR. HUNT
made a brief statement as to the financial changes that had recently been carried out in connection with the income of the Hospital. He explained that a certain part of the estates belonging to the Hospital had been sold last year, the result of which had been to increase the income of the Hospital by a sum of £13,809. This sum had been applied by reducing the age at which the pensioners received their pension so as to give them a claim to additional pension at 65 instead of 70, by adding 200 boys to the Hospital and school, and by increasing certain annuities.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
expressed his satisfaction with the statement, but should like to know whether the Government were going to continue the policy of selling the estates. The late Government had recourse to selling some of those estates for the purpose of increasing the revenue. The estates were very large, and in reference to the proceeds of them, he considered the Government should keep a very large sum as a reserve fund in case of war, the effect of which would be to increase the pensions very much.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he was one of the Commissioners for inquiry into the Greenwich Hospital estates, which produced £4,000 a-year, and in his opinion, when consolidated and brought within one circle—to dispose of them, in fact—they would become very valuable.
§ LORD ESLINGTON
said, that he, too, had been associated in inquiry respecting the Greenwich Hospital estates, and those which had been sold brought very high prices. The time might come when the charity would be very largely drawn upon, and the funds should therefore be very carefully kept. The Government should be very careful in selling this property, which, in his opinion, 505 was very valuable, and in selling the surface it might be found that there were minerals beneath it.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, it was impossible to judge of the policy of these sales by their immediate results. If this country continued to progress in wealth and population the rate of interest in the public funds would decline; and while the value of money became less the value of land would increase; and therefore he hoped the Government would not get rid of all their landed property.
§ SIR MASSEY LOPES
stated that the increase this year for the Greenwich Hospital estate had been £14,000, independently of the sales effected by the late Government. It was true that the College was the property of the charity, and it was worthy of consideration whether a small acknowledgement should not be paid from the naval funds to the charity for the use of the College. As to the policy of continuing the sales of the estates the Government had come to the conclusion that where the property was purely agricultural and fully developed it was desirable to sell it, but that where there was any mineral value below it would be very unwise to part with the property. The net rental of the property sold last year was £5,134, and it realized 62 years' purchase, so that upon it they now had £7,500 a-year beyond the net rental. Charges amounting to £10,000 a-year more upon the Greenwich estate would be falling in, so that in case of war there would be sufficient resources to meet an emergency.
said, the buildings were the property of the charity, and should the Hospital be sold the pensioners would be entitled to the interest of the money so realized. If, however, the buildings were left for the use of the nation as a Naval College, the pensioners were clearly entitled to a fair rent for their premises.
§ MR. SPENCER WALPOLE
explained that the increase in the Vote this year was chiefly due to increased salaries.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (8.) £82,276, to complete the sum for the British Museum.
§ Resolutions to be reported.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £505, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1876, for the Expenses of the Office of the Commissioners of Education in Ireland.
§ MR. MELDON
said, that at this stage it became his duty to move that the Chairman should report Progress. The Committee had now been engaged for many hours in voting Supply, and there were upon the Paper two or three important measures in which Irish Members were very much interested. The Chief Secretary had intimated his intention of proceeding with the two Bills relating to National education in Ireland, and the Irish Members were most desirous that the Bills should proceed at such an hour as would ensure careful consideration. He (Mr. Meldon) was most anxious that the Bills should be got through, and he felt it only reasonable that Progress should be reported after eight hours work in Committee.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Meldon.)
§ MR. GOSCHEN
suggested that if the Government would postpone the contested Votes hon. Members, perhaps, would not object to going on.
thought it best to adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, and was glad to see a Representative of the late Government present at so late an hour.
§ MR. MELDON
complained that he had experienced at the hands of a Member of Her Majesty's Government a piece of terrorism such as he believed 'had never been equalled in this country. He (Mr. Meldon) was reluctantly compelled to bring a matter before the Committee which showed very clearly 507 the manner in which Irish business was managed. Immediately before the last division which he felt it to be his duty to take, the Chief Secretary for Ireland came across the House and stated that if he (Mr. Meldon) intended to obstruct the passing of the Votes, he (the Chief Secretary) would withdraw the National Teachers Ireland Bill, and would take very good care that it should be known in Ireland why he did so. Now, the Chief Secretary knew very well that he (Mr. Meldon) was most interested in the passing of the Bill alluded to, and he submitted that the Chief Secretary was guilty of a very gross attempt to intimidate him from the discharge of his duty by threatening to denounce him in Ireland. This was not the first time the right hon. Baronet had had recourse to similar threats.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS - BEACH
observed, that it was not usual for hon. Members to repeat openly in the House what had been said to them by other Members in private conversation. The hon. Member had drawn a wrong inference from what he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) had said to him.
§ MR. MELDON
said, that he would not trust himself to express what was his opinion of the statement just made by the right hon. Baronet, but would content himself with a statement of what actually had occurred in which statement he would be borne out by all the hon. Members sitting around him. Upon the House being cleared for the division just taken the Chief Secretary in a most excited manner rushed across the House and in a loud tone of voice audible to everyone on the benches around made the statement referred to which was heard by many Members. Indeed, several of his Friends around expressed very strong views of the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman. The Chief Secretary very well knew of his (Mr. Meldon's) anxiety that the Bill alluded to should not be opposed, as both privately and upon the occasion of a recent deputation he had assured the right hon. Baronet that all responsibility was left with the Government, and that the passing of the Bill would not be opposed. His object 'was attained by directing the attention of the Committee and the public to the manner in which Irish legislation was conducted by the Chief Secretary, so that he would not further press the matter. 508 He gave the most unqualified contradiction to the statement made that the conversation was private, and in this he would be borne out by all his Friends about.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 23; Noes 88: Majority 65.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Whereupon Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Parnell.)
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;
Committee also report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
House adjourned at half after Two o'clock.