§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Mr. COURTNEY in the Chair. [5.15 P.M.]
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £992,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense
of Victuals and Clothing for Seamen and Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st of March, 1833.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
The discussion which took place on Thursday night in respect of the Navy was almost entirely confined to the special subjects of which Notice had been given by Amendment on going into Committee of Supply on the Navy Votes; and it was not possible, therefore, to outer into a general discussion upon naval questions and the policy indicated in the Memorandum of the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton). I think, therefore, that the noble Lord has done well in giving an opportunity on this occasion for raising a further discussion upon the general questions connected with the Navy on the Victualling Vote. In opening that discussion, I am prepared fully to subscribe to all that was said by other hon. Members on Thursday night in regard to the Statement or Memorandum submitted to the House by the noble Lord, both as to its ability and completeness; and I hope that the example which has now been sot will be followed in succeeding years, and that hereafter a printed Statement will be submitted to the House in substitution of the personal explanation which has hitherto been made by the First Lord of the Admiralty. At the same time, it appears to me that an annual Statement of this kind will have much more permanent interest than a mere formal speech in introducing the Navy Estimates; and, therefore, it is most desirable that such Statements should be perfectly impartial, and not of a partizan character. I regret to say that much evil has been done in past times in consequence of mixing up partizan statements in regard to the Navy and questions of policy in the discussions upon the Navy Estimates. Such a practice is, in my opinion, much to be deprecated; and I should have hoped that in a Statement of this kind it would have been most carefully avoided. I have to complain, however, that the Statement made by the noble Lord in some respects appears strongly to partake of a partizan character, and to be specially directed against the shipbuilding policy of his Predecessors, and especially of Lord North-brook, who was First Lord of the Ad- 862 miralty for four or five years. The parts of the Statement which I take objection to in this Memorandum are twofold. In the first place, the Memorandum, so far as it deals with a retrospective history of the Navy, contains this assertion. The noble Lord says that—During the years from 1881 to 1885, while every other Naval Power in Europe was increasing its Naval Expenditure, England alone stood still.The noble Lord further goes on to say that during that time England has been the only Power not to recognize the necessity of important changes in naval construction being brought to bear, with a view of obtaining thicker armour for ships and greater speed. It appears, he says, that other Powers have been largely engaged in producing vessels of greater power and speed; and that we alone have stood still, England having been the last Naval Power to recognize the new condition of affairs. The other statement to which I desire to call attention is contained in pages 14 and 15 of the Memorandum, which gives a valuation of the vessels comprising the Fleet, and also an estimate of the amount required to replace vessels which have become obsolete from old ago or wastage. The noble Lord arrives at an estimate that £1,800,000 is required annually for replacing the Fleet, and he ends by saying that the expenditure for the years immediately preceding 1885 was very much less than that amount. Now, I think I shall be able to show that both of the Statements to which I have referred are untrue, and have no foundation in fact; and, further, that they are exactly the opposite of the real state of affairs. I do not mean to say that the noble Lord has made a wilful misstatement, but he has assorted a fact, probably on the authority of others, without sufficient consideration. If the noble Lord had gone a little further back in his historical retrospect and had included the three years before 1881, he would have then found himself in conflict with some of his own Colleagues, and especially the right hon. Gentleman who is now First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith), and who at that time was First Lord of the Admiralty, in regard to whoso administration some of the allegations made by the noble Lord may with great truth be said. I have no desire, however, to 863 enter into a recriminatory discussion with the First Lord of the Treasury. I have not mentioned the matter for the purpose of bringing charges against the right hon. Gentleman, hut simply to show what was the condition in which Lord North-brook found the Navy, and the changes during his administration which were made in it. I find that the expenditure for now ships during the three years which preceded 1881 amounted to £1,430.000 a-year, which is very considerably below the point the noble Lord estimates as the proper average expenditure on new ships, and very considerably below what it was in past times and what it has been since. The Gunnery Vote had been reduced to less than £400,000. That, again, was the period in which special exertions were made by the French for reconstructing their Navy. Their increased expenditure commenced in 1876, and it reached its maximum in 1879; and for the throe-years he had alluded to it amounted to exactly the same sum as that expended in England—namely, £1,430,000 a-year. When my noble Friend Lord North-brook came into Office in 1886, he recognized the fact that the Shipbuilding Vote had been brought down to a dangerously low point, as compared with France. I was a Colleague of the noble Lord in the Admiralty at the time, and I well recollect pointing out to him what I had frequently urged in this House during the naval administration of the First Lord of the Treasury—that, having regard to what was being done in France, the expenditure of the past few years in regard to the Shipbuilding Vote for the English Dockyards and by contract, especially that for iron-clads, had been brought to a very low point. I further expressed an opinion that unless a considerable addition was made to the Shipbuilding Vote there was likely to be great alarm in the country on the subject, and probably a scare would arise which, in the end, would involve a much larger expenditure. I always recognized, for my part, that there were special reasons for the great increase which took place in the expenditure in the French Dockyards. Their vessels were built of wood, armour-plated, instead of being completely constructed of iron. They were perishing away, and would not stand the wear and tear to which they were subjected. 864 It was, therefore, found necessary to make great exertions to bring up the French Fleet to a proper condition; but yet the fact remained that in these three years the expenditure in the French Dockyards upon shipbuilding was exactly the same as the expenditure in the English Dockyards and by contract. My noble Friend fully admitted the necessity of doing considerably more in the direction of building now ships, and during each of the next four years he added largely every year to the Shipbuilding Vote, and the consequence was that the average expenditure for the next four years during Lord Northbrook's administration amounted to £1,900,000, or £500,000 above the average of the previous three years, and £100,000 a-year above the amount which the noble Lord opposite, in the Statement presented to the House, asserts to be necessary for the annual replacement of old vessels. Lord North-brook brought up the annual expenditure upon new ships from the point at which he found it—£1,400,000—to the sum of £2,210,000 in the year 1884–5, and the average for the whole period was £1,900,000, showing an increase of 10 per cent on the average of the previous three years. This increase was almost wholly devoted to iron-clads and the larger class of cruisers. The expenditure on iron-clads has been brought up from £700,000 to £1,300,000, or 90 per cent. Therefore I say it is not true that during the years from 1881 to 1885 the naval administration in this country stood still. The fact is that during the same time the French Government made no further increase in their Navy Vote, and the expenditure in their Dockyards during four years averaged precisely the same amount at which it stood in the previous three years. Therefore, it is exactly the opposite of the truth to say that the shipbuilding in the English Dockyards stood still while there was a rapid increase in the French Dockyards. Precisely the reverse was the case—namely, that this country increased its expenditure by 10 per cent during the four years and by 90 per cent upon ironclads, while the expenditure of the French Dockyards upon the same class of vessels remained stationary. During that period Lord Northbrook commenced eight iron-clads against four laid down by the French. Six of these vessels can run 17 knots an hour, whereas the 865 average speed of the four vessels laid down in the French Dockyards is only 15 knots, showing an advantage in the case of the English vessels of no loss than two knots per hour per vessel. Then, again, five of the English vessels are constructed to carry guns of 67 tons, whereas the French vessels only carry guns of 50 tons; and as to the coal-carrying capacity, I find that six of our vessels have been constructed to carry 1,200 tons of coal each, whereas the French vessels can only carry 600 tons,—thus showing that the English vessels are provided with double the amount of coal-carrying capacity which the French vessels possess. Lord Northbrook also laid down, during the same period, several very large and fast cruisers of the Mersey type, faster and bettor vessels than the French. All these vessels were either completed, or will be completed, within the present year, while none of the French vessels are within two years of completion. I think I have shown that the statements contained in the noble Lord's Memorandum are not in respect of the years 1881–4 justified by the facts of the case; and I with great confidence appeal to the noble Lord to alter his Statement, because I am quite sure he does not desire that a Memorandum of this kind, which gives a retrospect of the history of the Navy, should contain inaccurate assertions, especially when this Memorandum will hereafter in all probability be looked upon as an authentic record. I trust the noble Lord will realize the fact that his Statements are not correct, and that he will rectify them so as to bring thorn in accordance with the true facts of the case. In 1885 unquestionably Lord North brook agreed, under the pressure of public opinion, to propose to the House a special Programme, involving a further expenditure, which was to be spread over five years, of £3,100,000. This alarm was, I think, occasioned by public opinion not fully understanding, as I believe, the enormous accession of strength which is gradually being attained. The alarm had its origin, I believe, in the fear as to our relations with France arising out of that damnosa hereditas—Egypt. Lord Northbrook had always said, that while he believed that the rate of expenditure on now ships which he had attained would, if continued for a few years 866 longer, have been quite sufficient, yet he was not unwilling to avail himself of public opinion to hasten the building of ships by a special Programme; and he therefore applied to Parliament for the special Vote I have mentioned of £3,100,000 to be spread over five years. The expenditure was subsequently increased to £3,500.000, and was spread over three years only instead of five; with this additional money two additional ironclads and five belted cruisers—which are, in fact, second-class ironclads—are being built. The result was that a very large addition was made to the Navy, and whatever credit is due for that is entirely due to Lord North-brook, and not to the Board over which the noble Lord opposite now presides. Lot me point out that none of the ships provided under the special Programme of 1885 are yet completed; and, therefore, if it is really the case, at this moment that the provision of the ships in the first reserve of the British Navy is more full and ample than it had ever been before. The noble Lord has claimed credit for the Navy of England being stronger than the Navy of any three other Powers.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Lord GEORGE HAMILTON) (Middlesex, Ealing)
No; if the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to correct him, what I said had reference to the number of ships on commission.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
Then the noble Lord said that the number of English ships on commission were equal to the strength of the three most powerful Navies.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
No; I said nothing about the strength of the Navy; but I said that the number of ships on commission of the iron-clad class was larger than those on commission of any three other naval Powers.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
At all events, we had three times the number commissioned; and I think if the noble Lord compares the strength of the vessels he will make a similar admission in regard to that point. I think he will also be prepared to make this further admission that at this moment, in regard to the vessels which are now in the first reserve, and are coming into it in the course of the present year, the Navy of England will present a comparison with 867 other navies infinitely bettor than it has done with the navies of Foreign Powers for many years past. If that be so, it seems that the vessels being built under the special Programme of Lord North-brook are not yet completed; is it not clear that this satisfactory provision has been made out of the normal Votes for the Navy from 1881 to 1885? The noble Lord has attempted to throw discredit upon the special Programme of Lord Northbrook in two ways. First, he said that the adoption of it tended to throw the Dockyards into confusion; and, secondly, that it by a sudden increase led to waste. I think he ought to have remembered that all the vessels which came under the Vote of Credit were ordered to be built by contract, and not one of them in the Dockyards. Therefore it cannot be the case that any of the vessels building in the Dockyards were interfered with by the special Programme, or that the work of the Dockyards was (hereby placed in confusion. The noble Lord says it would have been far better if some of these ships had been built at an earlier period. Now, if the seven big vessels contracted for in 1885 had been contracted for three years earlier, we might have got some of them earlier; but, on the other hand they would have been inferior in many respects as to speed and other qualities. We have certainly got much more powerful vessels and vessels of much greater speed. In fact, the improvements in naval construction have been so rapid that three or four years make a great difference, and there can be no doubt that the vessels bought under that Programme are much better and more powerful than if they had been ordered three or four years earlier. Then as to the cost, it is no doubt certain that in consequence of the depression in the trade, the vessels have been bought at a far more reasonable cost than they could have been if contracted for sooner. I do not, however, wish to make much of that point, and I only put it against the attempt of the noble Lord to discredit the special Programme, and to assert that it would have been far better if the vessels had been constructed earlier. I have now done with this part of the case, and there is only one other point I wish to mention. It has reference to the contract for the engines of the Renown and the Sans- 868 pareil. Lord Northbrook is in Italy at this moment, and unable to make a personal explanation. I have, however, received a letter from him, in which he says that he assumes full and entire personal responsibility for what has been done in connection with these vessels. In the course of his letter he expresses surprise in regard to two points. One is, that the hon. Member for the Govan Division of Lanarkshire (Mr. Pearce) should have been included in the reference with respect to a case in which he himself had been one of the tenderers. The noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty has very hastily assumed that because the engines of the Nile and Trafalgar contracted for by the same firm a year later were at a somewhat lower price, therefore there must necessarily have been a mistake. That shows very little knowledge of business. The engines, though for larger ships, were of the same size, horse-power and pattern, and that very fact alone, undoubtedly, enabled the contractors—Messrs. Humphrys—to offer a lower price. The other point is, that Lord Northbrook should never have been informed that a special inquiry was taking place by a Committee of which the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. Forwood) was a member, and that he should have been afforded no opportunity of making an explanation on the subject. I think that many hon. Members will agree with the surprise expressed by Lord Northbrook upon these two points. I have felt it my duty to make this statement in regard to Lord Northbrook—I will not say in his do-fence, but in regard to the conduct of himself personally, and his policy and that of all of his Colleagues. I believe, myself, that the naval administration of Lord Northbrook during the period I have adverted to will bear full investigation, and will stand against any of the somewhat carping criticisms which have been made upon it by the First Lord. Lord Northbrook's fame has been mainly achieved as an administrator; and I believe that the present Government showed their appreciation of it by offering him a seat in their Cabinet. I should like to know what form the statement the First Lord would have assumed if Lord Northbrook had been one of his Colleagues at this moment? I 869 cannot think that any reference to Lord Northbrook would have appeared in this document in so damaging and derogatory a form with regard to Lord North- brook during the time he was First Lord of the Admiralty. Turning from these matters to the Estimates now before the Committee, I find that the Estimates for the coming year show a reduction of £793,000 as compared with last year. I confess that when I saw that amount I was somewhat surprised, especially when I recollected that the noble Lord the Member for Smith Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) had left the Government, because, as he told us, he could not induce his Colleagues at the Admiralty and the War Office to assent to a reduction of even £500,000. It will be recollected that the noble Lord, in the explanation which he made at the beginning of this year, told the House that he had had a discussion with his two Colleagues at the War Office and the Admiralty with reference to a reduction of their Estimates. He said he would have been quite prepared to remain in Office if he could have induced them to make a reduction of £1,000,000. He said, further, that £100,000 or £200,000 less than that would have satisfied him, and that he was not prepared to say he would not have remained in Office if a reduction of £500,000 only could have been promised. He did not, however, find that either of his Colleagues was prepared to meet him in that respect; and therefore he was bound to send in his resignation. Certainly, in the face of that statement, I was surprised to see that the First Lord of the Admiralty claimed credit for a reduction of £700,000 in the Estimates of the year as compared with last year. I shall, however, be prepared to show that this reduction is, in fact, of an illusory character, and will not bear examination. There is an increase in the Gunnery Vote for naval purposes of £292,000. The effect of the Statement of the Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) is that there has been that increase in the Vote as compared with last year. However, the comparison of the noble Lord, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer's point of view, should be made with the Estimates of last year, only including the addition of the Supplementary Estimates.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
No, it is not—at all events, not for financial purposes. The noble Lord knows well that there will be further Supplementary Estimates in the coming year, as there have been in the past; and, in order that the Chancellor of the Exchequer may deal with the matter financially, he should make a comparison with the Original Estimates and not with the Estimates including the addition of Supplementary Estimates. Now, the Supplementary Estimates were £272,000; therefore, deducting these two items, the real diminution, as compared with the Original Estimate last year, from the point at which the Chancellor of the Exchequer would look at the matter, is only some £240,000 lower; and I am not sure that that sum is not also illusory, because the Supplementary Estimates have been caused by hastening on the contract work, and enabling More money to be spent in the current year. If that work had not been hastened, it is quite clear that all the money paid under the Supplementary Estimates to the contractors would fall upon the coming year; and I should like to know from the noble Lord if that has been done which was so much complained of by the Auditor and Comptroller General, and whether the money was advanced to contractors for work in hand, or whether the work has not been hastened. At all events, I am right in saying that if this contract work had not been hurried so as to bring it within the present year what is due to the coming year would have been included in the Estimates of this year, and the result would have been exactly the same. There has been a benefit to the coming year at the expense of the next year to the extent of £240,000. Taking the two Estimates together—the Army and the Navy Estimates—there is a saving only, I think, of £260,000. I cannot understand why the Government, for the purpose of saving a Colleague so valuable to them as the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, might not have advanced a little further and made a further reduction of the sum of £240,000. That would have been very easy to do, especially as the noble Lord pointed out that the liabilities at the end of the coming 871 year would be very much reduced from what they were at the beginning of the year. Therefore, I think the Government might easily, by postponing the contract work for three or four months, have arranged that the payments should be made to come into the financial year, and then the further reduction the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington asked for would have been effected, and in that way the Government would have saved a valuable Colleague I can only surmise that there was some other motive on the part of the Colleagues of the noble Lord for getting rid of him than the difference that existed between them of £240,000. The programme of the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty in regard to now work is of a very moderate character. It provides for five protected cruisers of 2,500 tons each and a few smaller vessels. Looking at the very large increase which has been made during the last few years, I am not prepared to say that the noble Lord was bound to go further, but at all events it appears to me to be somewhat out of harmony with the noble Lord's demands last year when he supported the views of the noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford), that an expenditure of £5,000,000 to be provided by terminable annuities ought to be spent upon cruisers. The demand made by the noble Lord last year, was that it would be necessary to construct immediately no less than 20 large cruisers, and some 20 smaller ones at a cost of £5, 000,000. I congratulate the Government at the conclusion at which they have now arrived. I think they are right in making a more moderate demand; and I congratulate the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty in having succeeded in restraining his noble Colleague, and in having brought the noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone so much within his demand of last year. One of the most interesting parts of the statement of the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty has reference to the future There is one statement to which I have already adverted shortly—namely, the valuation which the noble Lord has already made in regard to the effective ships in the Navy, and also the annual sum required for supplying the waste in the Navy. But I would observe that the statement contained in the Memorandam is a very 872 different statement indeed to that which was made by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty in the course of the Recess at a meeting in Lancashire. In the course of that speech, the Secretary to the Admiralty estimated the effective ships of the Fleet to be of the value of £50,000,000; and he gave them an average life of only 15 years, bringing out the fact that an annual sum of £3,000,000 was required in order to replace the Fleet—in other words, he considered that £3,000,000 should be expended every year on new ships in order to keep up the Navy to its normal amount of value—namely, £50,000,000. He wound up in the manner usual with the present be and by making a fierce attack upon his Predecessors. He said that whereas £3,000,000 were annually required, Lord Northbrook had only provided £1,800,000, and hence the neglect of the Navy. When I read that statement I looked upon it as a very exaggerated one, and I thought there were some extraordinary fallacies connected with it. I had in past times made calculations of this kind, and I had brought out far different results. I, therefore, proceeded at once to make a valuation for myself from the information I had before me. My calculations brought out that the fair value of the existing vessels belonging to the Fleet was £35,000,000. I thought that 15 years was a very short life to give to our iron-clads. I find that out of the 56 iron-clads we now have of an effective character, no loss than 20 have had a longer life than 15 years, including the Hercules and the Sultan, and there are 22 others—such, for instance, as the Monarch and the Audacious—all excellent vessels which have had a good deal more than 20 years' life. They are still valuable vessels with many years before them. We have not yet had sufficient experience of the cruisers of a larger type to allow us to form any data with regard to them, because it is only within the last few years that iron-clads have be on substituted for wooden vessels; but the Active and Volage, built 18 years ago, are still very valuable vessels. In regard to our troop-ships, I may mention three of those vessels. The Himalaya was purchased 33 years ago, and is as good as she was on the first day she was constructed. The other two—the Tamar and the Orontes—were 873 both of them built more than 32 years ago. Therefore, I think it is a mistake to assign so short an average of life as 15 years for our iron-clads; and, under these circumstances, I found that the sum required annually for the replacement of effective ships amounts only to £1,800,000, instead of the £3,000,000 put down by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. For-wood). I was very nearly writing to the Press to complain of the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty on this subject, and to give my version of the value of the Fleet, and the annual cost of replacement; but I refrained from doing so believing that the hon. Gentleman would renew his attack in this House. I was rather surprised, therefore, when I looked at the Memorandum of the noble Lord to find that he had completely thrown over the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty; that he had abandoned altogether the hon. Gentleman's valuation, and had brought out a result almost identical with that which I, as an amateur, had arrived. Instead of taking the value of the vessels at £50,000,000, he brought them down to the point of £39,000,000 only, including the shipbuilding, and he conceives that 15 years is too short a limit to assign as the average life of our vessels. The result he brings out is precisely similar to that which I had done—namely, £1,800,000 compared with the £3,000,000 his Colleague the Secretary to the Admiralty proposed in the Recess. I think we are entitled to some explanation from the Secretary to the Admiralty upon this point, and to ask whether he concurs with the valuation now made by the noble Lord. If so, I think we ought to have some apology from the hon. Gentleman for the attack which he made upon his Predecessors, and which he founded on this misstatement. It is clear, then, that if the noble Lord is right, and he believes himself his Estimate is a very fair one, and is, if at all, in excess, we may look forward to a considerable reduction in our expenditure on new ships in coming years, when the special programme of 1881 is completed. We are expending this year £2,800,000 on new ships, or £1,000,000 in excess of the noble Lord's Estimate. This excess involves a corresponding increase on the Vote for guns and gun mountings. I 874 feel little doubt, therefore, that we may look forward to a reduced expenditure of £2,000,000 in the total Votes, including the Gunnery Vote. Turning to another point, I have observed with pleasure, on reading the Memorandum of the noble Lord, that the Admiralty are making efforts for the reform of the Admiralty organization, both in the Admiralty itself and in the Dockyards. I can assure the noble Lord that on this side of the House we heartily sympathize with him, and are prepared to do our very best to assist him in carrying out any reforms he may make. I say this because I can recollect the time when it was very much otherwise. The last attempt to reform the Dockyard administration was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers)in 1870, and at that time a most tremendous political opposition was raised against the proposed reform, which did not confine itself to this House, but was experienced in the Dockyards themselves, and within the walls of the Admiralty also. The result was that every kind of obstruction was interposed in every way to the reform of the Dockyard administration, and I am sorry to say that in the end things went very much to the bad, especially under the régime of Mr. Ward Hunt. I attribute much of what has taken place since in regard to the Dockyards, to the unfortunate way in which this attempt to reform the Dockyard administration was received. I can assure the noble Lord that none of his reforms will be treated by us in that spirit, but we shall endeavour to assist him to the best of our ability in carrying them out. I am certainly afraid that he is attempting too much at once. Dockyard reforms can only be carried out slowly and with the greatest care, and the noble Lord will find that it is not so much the system that is at fault as the men. It is difficult to find good men to place in responsible positions in order to see that the reforms you propose to introduce are properly carried out. The present system of Dockyard responsibility is such as to prevent the growth of Dockyard reforms. There is one change which the noble Lord has made which I think is in the right direction, although I cannot say that I think it goes nearly far enough. The change I refer to is in the respect of the 875 appointment of civil assistants to the Naval Superintendents of Dockyards. I say that those appointments are in the right direction, but they are only a very small step in the right direction. Let me point out to the noble Lord and the House what has really been done. The Admiralty have appointed a highly-paid officer in each of the Dockyards as a civil assistant to the Naval Superintendent. This officer has a salary of £1,000 a-year, which is more than is attached to the post of Chief Constructor in the Dockyards. At the same time, the civil assistant has no direct responsibility of any kind. He is not able to give a simple command or order to anyone single man in the Dockyard; he is merely the assistant of the Naval Superintendent, to advise the Naval Superintendent, and to act the part of an aide-de-camp or a kind of a spy going about the Dockyard seeing if there is anything that ought to be done, and then advising the Naval Superintendent upon the matter. Perhaps even the discharge of this duty may do good, and I believe it has done good in finding out evils of various kinds, and bringing them under the attention of the Naval Superintendent. But the reform is one which I maintain does not go far enough, and I think it is absolutely necessary to impose responsibility upon these men, and to give them some definite function to perform with full command over others. I look with great alarm at divided responsibility. Let me suppose a case. There might happen to be a difference of opinion between the Chief Constructor of the Dockyard and the civil adviser of the Naval Superintendent—say in regard to some important point of naval construction. Divided responsibility in such a respect would be a most serious matter, and might lead to a naval disaster. Therefore, I cannot but think that the noble Lord will have at a very short date to go much further, and to give these important officers some real and direct responsibility in the Dockyards. That ought to be the true end and aim of any real Dockyard reform, and I do not believe that any satisfactory reform can be carried out in the Dockyards unless you are able to build up a complete system of management and control under one supreme civil Head under the Naval Superintendents. When 876 you have done that, the Naval Superintendents in the smaller yards, such as Pembroke and Sheerness, will be found redundant and may be dispensed with. With respect to all that the noble Lord has said about stores, I fully concur. I recollect well that when those doctrines were upheld by the right hon. Member for South Edinburgh and Mr. Baxter, they were denounced as tending to reduce the strength of the Navy by depleting the storehouses. In regard to reforms in the Admiralty itself, I listened with some interest to the remarks made by the noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford) upon that subject, especially in reference to the duties of the Naval Lords, in regard to which he said that great changes are taking place. He said that all of them in future would be consulted, and that they will all have to write minutes in regard to their own Department, and that nothing will be done without their approval. I listened to the noble Lord attentively, but I could detect no real change as having taken place. Therefore, I would ask the noble Lord to point out distinctly what change has been effected. The Order in Council distinctly lays down the responsibility of each Naval Lord; and in my time the Naval Lords signed the "Estimates." The noble Lord was obliged to admit in his speech that the Navy Estimates were flung at his head without his having been allowed to see them before they were presented, and that he was asked to put his signature to this important document-without having been consulted in the matter. I should like to know if that is the result of these new Rules? Is it the outcome of the new Rules that the Naval Lord is required to sign his name to the Estimates without ever having seen them? If so, it appears to me to be a very singular arrangement; but I would venture to say that the refusal of the Naval Lord to sign the Estimates is an unprecedented occurrence, full of danger in regard to the future. The noble Lord cannot absolve himself from the general tenor of these Estimates even by refusing his signature to them, because every Naval Lord is practically responsible for the Estimates as a whole, and if he does not care to be responsible for them his proper course is to give up his post. Although, therefore, the noble Lord did not sign the Esti- 877 mates he is responsible to the House and the country for them, and if he fails to do that he ought not to be there. His only alternative is to resign. There is one other point to which I desire to allude. The noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty gave an explanation of what is to occur in the future when new ships are under construction. I understood him to say that each Naval Lord is to be asked what he wants in a new ship—each Naval Lord is to lay down his requirements—and then the Admiralty are to call upon the Constructors to build a ship in accordance with their demands. If that is to be the new plan of the Admiralty in regard to now ships I do not know where it may lead us. Certainly not to the construction of a good vessel, I hold that one of the most important and responsible duties of the Admiralty is that of determining the designs of the larger vessels. It has been my lot to have been at the Board of Admiralty on several occasions when vessels of an important type have been agreed upon, and I know of no more responsible and difficult duty than that of arriving at such a conclusion. On all occasions the Naval Lords have been fully consulted; but so also was the Scientific Department of the Admiralty, represented by the Chief Constructors. There has often been a divergence of opinion between those two branches of the Navy; but I have never known a case where agreement was not finally arrived at between the scientific element and the naval element of the Admiralty. I think I may say that the great changes which have taken place in the designs of vessels during the last 20 years have not been due to naval officers, but that they have been forced on the Naval Service, in a great measure, by the Scientific Departments of the Admiralty, and by the Scientific Departments of other countries—especially of France. If naval officers' advice alone had been taken we should have made very little advance indeed. Eventually an agreement has been come to between the scientific department and the leading naval officers representing the Admiralty. As a general rule, the object of the naval profession is a very conservative one on these subjects, and perhaps rightly; but I do not believe that the most eminent naval men would stand by that conservative feeling unless they were egged on 878 by the scientific branches of the Admiralty. The consequence has been that the designs of our vessels have been the result of a combination between the best scientific and the best naval opinion. A big ship must be in the nature of a compromise in which various elements of strength are combined, as to which there is room for great difference of opinion. As a general rule, it has been possible to bring the Naval and Scientific authorities into harmony by some concessions on either side. The importance of this has already been brought under the notice of the House in the case of the Nile and Trafalgar. The facts of that case have not been disputed by the noble Lord. Their importance consists in this, that for the first time the scientific constructors wore not consulted, but were directed what to design upon the sole advice of the First Naval Lord. An order was given by the Board of Admiralty to construct these two vessels on certain conditions laid down by the advice of naval officers. The constructors objected, and reported that the vessels were not what they ought to be for the enormous expenditure devoted to them, and that they were very deficient in certain qualities, especially in speed. The constructors entered their protest, and asked that a Royal Commission would be appointed similar to that presided over by Lord Dufferin. I am not going into the whole subject of the designs of these two vessels; but I confess that the result of the debate on Thursday last was to impress me with the highest importance of the demand which has been made for a Royal Commission. That step, I believe, would result in reassuring public opinion as to the vessels already constructed after the attacks which have been made upon them by the hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Reed), which seem to me to be exaggerated, and most unfair to Sir Nathaniel Baruaby and Mr. White. I am afraid that the noble Lord, in the course which he has pursued, has promoted distrust in regard to some of the vessels which have been built, and that he has not stood up for the officials of the Admiralty as he ought to have done. I cannot help bearing in mind i what the noble Lord stated last year as to the construction of the Agamemon and the Ajax, and I think that having regard to the whole tenor of the dis- 879 cussion on Thursday it would be wise, at the present moment, to appoint a Commission of design, not with a view of altering any of the vessels now under construction, because that could not be done, but to reassure the public mind as to the character of the vessels now being constructed, and also with a view of laying down the conditions which are in future to be followed when now vessels are to be built. It is quite certain that before very long there will be a new departure in the case of vessels of large tonnage. I believe that the French Government are not commencing any now vessels of large tonnage, nor are they engaged, at the present moment, in laying down any large iron-clad at all. It is, therefore, evident that we are approaching some other line, and in view of that I think it would be well that a Committee of Design, similar to that presided over by Lord Dufferin, should be appointed again for the purpose of considering the designs on which the future construction of vessels should be based. I make this remark in no carping spirit. I think the programme of the noble Lord, for the coming year, is a wise and moderate one, and that it will afford an opportunity of considering what should be the character of our vessels in the future. It is quite evident that the days of iron-clads of the type of the Colossus and others are numbered, and it is right that the Government should be fully advised before taking a new departure. With regard to another point, I entirely agree with what has been stated as to the education of naval officers, and the results of the inquiry of the Ravensworth Commission. I regret what the noble Lord said about it; but I do not propose to refer to that matter now, although I shall certainly take the opportunity of expressing my views upon it at greater length on some other Vote. There is only one other point I desire to allude to. I read with pleasure the statement made by the noble Lord with regard to the personnel of the Fleet, He said that the waste of men is far less than formerly, and that the service has become more popular. I rejoice at that, for after all the personnel of the Fleet is by far the most important part of it. We can improvise in time of war to a great extent the matériel of the Fleet, but we cannot improvise officers and men of the highest 880 quality. That must always be a work of time with respect to the malériel of the Fleet. No one can foretell what would be the requirements of the nest naval war. My own opinion is that something very much more simple than the cumbrous and costly constructions of the last few years will he the platform on which our men will have to fight, and that science will discover something appropriate to the time, which will be improvised quicker than the iron-clads. What it may be we cannot foretell, but whatever it may be it will require hearts of steel to man our vessels. But having the greatest confidence in the personnel of the Fleet; knowing that our officers and seamen will be men of great courage and of the highest intellect, I fool that they will be adequate to any duty that may be imposed upon them, and that they will maintain the interests of the Service, and of the Empire wherever they may be called upon to act.
§ CAPTAIN COLOMB (Tower Hamlets, Bow, &c.)
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) stated that he is not quite sure the next Secretary to the Admiralty will know the form of vessel in which the seamen of our Fleet will have to fight. He, perhaps, thus explains his own position when Secretary to the Admiralty himself. At the beginning of his speech the right hon. Gentleman alluded to the fact, as being generally recognized, that questions relating to the Navy were not Party questions. Yet the gist of the whole of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was that of a Party politician. Now I am afraid that it is this Party spirit which has injured the efficiency of the Navy in the past, and that if the efficiency of the Navy is really to be restored on a firm basis, it will be as well to discard any partizan feeling when discussing matters in which the Admiralty are concerned, and by hon. Members dropping their politics for the time. The right hon. Gentleman, in praising the policy of Lord Northbrook, quite forgot to tell us which policy of that noble Lord he was praising. Was it the policy of March, 1884, when this House brought a considerable amount of pressure to bear on the Representatives of the Government, when it was demanded that an inquiry should be instituted into the condition of the Navy, when it was asserted that the House and 881 country were dissatisfied with the existing state of things, and when the proposal was resisted by the Representatives of the Admiralty in this House, and especially by Mr. Brassoy—now Lord Brassey—on behalf of the Government? He said, in March, 1884, that the Admiralty were satisfied thatthe addition they were making for the Fleet was sufficient to maintain our naval supremacy, and that it would be impolitic to propose the sensational Estimates which the critics of the Government policy demanded.The right hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) maintained that it wasimpossible for the Government to allow an inquiry to be instituted into the state of the Fleet on the supposition that its condition was unsatisfactory.That was what Lord Northbrook's Administration stated in March, 1884; but in the month of November in. the same year they came down to this House and asked for an additional expenditure of over £3,000,000, because they were then altogether dissatisfied with the condition of the Fleet. Which of these two policies of Lord Northbrook is it to which the right hon. Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) has been referring? I think he ought to have specified whether it was the policy of Lord Northbrook in March, 1884, or the totally opposite policy which he advocated seven months later. I trust that the Committee will hear from the noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty a somewhat clear statement as to the responsibility which attaches to naval individuals in the Admiralty. I confess that, after the debate which occurred the other night, I have been more confused upon that point than I was before. I have never, since 1869, been able to understand the responsibility which attaches to Naval Lords. It was stated the other night that the Impérieuse and the Warspite are frightful examples of the bad system prevailing at the Admiralty. It was then pointed out that the case of the Benbow was an example of blunders owing to the goodness of the system, but badly applied. In one of these cases it was alleged that the system was bad, but in the other that it was good. The hon. and gallant Member for the Eastbourne Division of Sussex (Admiral Field) said that under the Order of Council in 1869 the whole position of the Naval Members 882 of the Admiralty has become most un-satisfactory. That was contradicted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers), who issued that Order in Council. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was perfectly satisfactory, because it throws individual responsibility on Naval Lords of the Admiralty, and he emphasized that fact by saying that he made each Lord of the Admiralty sign the Estimates, in order to show that he was directly responsible for his own Department. The next thing which happened was that my noble and gallant Friend the Member for East Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford), who is so distinguished an ornament of the Admiralty and the Naval Profession, stated that he had refused to sign the Estimates because he knew nothing about them, and had not had time to study thorn. Now, I do not think it is right that the House and the country should not be able to attach some responsibility to particular men for particular failures; and I cannot see how that provision is to be made while the civil element—what I may call the clerical element—controls. I cannot conceive how it is possible to say, in regard to the defence of this great Empire, involving as it does many critical questions, which only experts can deal with, that you should spend so much larger a sum every year in the clerical department of the Admiralty than on the expert staff. I cannot conceive anything more adverse to the establishment of a better state of things in regard to the naval administration. So long as naval officers are few at the Admiralty, and until you organize your Admiralty into departments under responsible naval men, with adequate naval staff, kept there long enough to know their business, I cannot see how you can get that business efficiently done. we must also have the guarantee which is provided by the American system—that not only shall the Admiralty and the naval administration be divided into departments, but that there shall be a Naval Lord at the head of each department. Unless that is done, you will never have that proper consideration devoted to the wider questions of policy which is necessary in order to secure the due administration of the Navy. I want to know from the noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty, if the Naval Lords are responsible 883 for the Estimates, how it is that they did not sign the Memorandum; how is it that it comes as a Memorandum of the noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty alone, while the Naval Estimates, which are necessary in order to carry out his policy, are signed by a majority of the Naval Lords? If the noble Lord, and the other Lords, are responsible for the Naval Estimates, they should be responsible for the policy that is involved in them; and, therefore, they should have been called upon to sign this Memorandum. I trust I may be allowed to express a hope that the next Memorandum will be a Report from each Naval Lord at the head of each department, stating that he is satisfied that the Estimates are sufficient and necessary for the department with which he is connected, and then let the noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty sign generally for himself that the Estimates are correct. That is a question of some importance, because if, under the Order of 1869, each Lord is responsible for his department, I cannot understand why the Memorandum appears as if it were the solo production of the First Lord. There is not one single word, from beginning to end, in that Memorandum as to the requirements of our coaling stations. I know the noble Lord will tell me that that is not in his Department; but I think it is a monstrous thing that the safety of the coals for the Navy in a time of war should not be vested in the Board of Admiralty, instead of resting with the War Department. It can easily be understood that the Navy will be helpless and powerless unless adequate stores of coal are secured, and yet there is not one word about the coaling stations in this Memorandum. If the noble Lord cannot guarantee an adequate provision for the coaling stations, I maintain that there is little use in spending money on ships. There is another point in connection with this Memorandum which has surprised me still more. Hon. Members will have read a very interesting paragraph about the personnel of the Fleet; but I think it is somewhat astounding that in these days the noble Lord should have omitted to mention the 10,500 Marine Infantry and 2,500 Marine Artillery under his control. It is astonishing to me that so large an Infantry and Artillery Force should be regarded as so minor a detail in 884 the defence of the country as not to be worthy of mention in this Memorandum. Who is responsible for this omission? Still less can I make out why, in these circumstances, we should have the House of Commons dissatisfied, and the country agitated, because the Secretary of State for War proposes to break up five batteries of Horse Artillery in order to provide garrisons for the purpose of protecting the coals required by the Navy in different parts of the world. I cannot conceive why it should be considered at all necessary to break up five batteries of Horse Artillery in order to meet naval requirements, and to provide Artillery for garrisoning naval stations. But it will be found that the Board of Admiralty, or, at all events, the Naval Departments, have 2,500 Marine Artillery placed absolutely at their disposal. Nevertheless, the noble Lord has not even considered it necessary to mention them in this Memorandum. As an officer who has spent 15 or 10 years of his life in that Force, I think I ought to know something about its value. Yet my opinion is that, although the country is spending a great sum of money in order to secure an efficient body of Artillery, the Admiralty are misusing and misapplying it. I challenge contradiction to that assertion. I find that there is a mention of the Marine Service in the Memorandum; but it is only this—that a certain number of Marines are about to be turned into butchers and bakers. I admit that that may be right; but I do not know why we should break up a number of batteries of Horse Artillery, while it is proposed to turn the Marino Artillery into butchers and bakers. I think our naval defences in a time of war is too serious a matter to be trifled with in that manner. I should like to know whether there has been any communication whatever between the War Office and the Board of Admiralty as to the application of the Marines and the Marino Artillery to the defence of the coaling stations? There is not one word about that matter in the Memorandum, nor any allusion whatever to the employment of the Marines, except as butchers and bakers. What I want to know is, whether the question of de-feuding the coaling stations under the Admiralty with a Marine Force has ever been put by the Admiralty to the War 885 Office? If that had been done, the whole matter could have been fairly inquired into, and the defence of these coaling stations would have been carried out at a cost infinitely loss and in a far more efficient and satisfactory manner. The noble Lord must admit that when the Horse Artillery is broken up, the War Office will come to the Admiralty and call upon them to provide transport for the Artillery and their stores to coal depots all over the world, backwards and forwards, and the country will have to pay for it. Marino Artillery would go out as supernumeraries in warships, and transport expense would thus be saved. There is another interesting point touched upon in this Memorandum. I am sure that the noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone is the last person to give credit to any Department which does not deserve it. One of the most interesting portions of the Memorandum is the statement with regard to the Naval Intelligence Department. I most cordially approve, and I warmly thank the present Board of Admiralty for, the stop they have taken. It has been too long deferred already, and I think that the promotion and extension of that Intelligence Department is the wisest step the Admiralty have ever taken in its history in modern times. But I am sorry to say that I cannot give the Board any credit for the idea of this Naval Intelligence Department. The facts are these. The Naval Intelligence Department appears first in the Estimates of 1881 for the sum of £500. Lord Northbrook does not deserve credit for that, nor does Lord Northbrook's Administration. It was a totally inadequate Estimate, and merely a sop towards satisfying public opinion. The present Board of Admiralty are taking a further step in this direction, and I believe they are pursuing a wise policy—one of the wisest, indeed, which has distinguished the Admiralty for many years. More than 20 years ago I pointed to the necessity of establishing a Naval Intelligence Department; and I remember having had a bad time of it, on one occasion, at the hands of a Naval Lord of the Admiralty, because I dared to advocate certain views. At length the United Service Institution asked me to put all my arguments together and deliver a lecture upon the subject. I remember talking to a distinguished friend of mine 886 —who has since left the Admiralty—upon the matter, and he implored me not to deliver the lecture, because the Admiralty did not want such a Department. My lecture, however, was given in 1881, and Lord Northbrook came down afterwards and said that it was very interesting, and that something should be done in the matter. Nevertheless, it was not until 1884 that Lord Northbrook produced the Vote for £500; and he might just as well have asked for 500 pence for all the good a sum like that was calculated to do. My estimate was, and still is, that the Naval Intelligence Department should cost at least £20,000 a-year. It has leaked out how this question of the Naval Intelligence Department has been dealt with in an Admiralty Minute; but it is somewhat like the performance of the play of Hamlet with Hamlet left out. There is not a single word in the Admiralty Minute which requires the Naval Intelligence Department to make itself acquainted with the vast and complicated operations of sea commerce. It is supposed that our commerce is. to a certain extent, always the same on the ocean, and there is not a single word said about the naval arrangements for the protection of that commerce, to the variations and tendencies of which these arrangements must conform. The natural laws which influence commerce are the keys to our ocean defence, and therefore I feel emboldened to ask the noble Lord what is to be the policy of the Admiralty in the event of war? Are we ready to maintain a blockade, and, if so, is the Admiralty prepared to keep up a force sufficient for blockading all the war ports of probable enemies, so as to prevent their iron-clads from getting out? In addition, to watch the great commercial ports of the enemy, are they in a position to guard the 13 great junctions of our commerce on the ocean? Are we prepared to maintain a sufficient naval force to hold those 13 junctions?—because, if we are not, we might just as well try to keep possession of the line of railway from the Victoria Station to Dover, and allow the enemy to take possession of Clapham Junction. Have we an adequate force for this purpose? Have we an adequate force to watch neutral ports so as to deny the enemy coal? The whole question of naval warfare is the 887 coaling of our own cruisers, find the position we may be in to deny coal to the enemy. I am satisfied, and I challenge contradiction, that the Admiralty are not prepared and have not a sufficient force at command to do these things; and I want to know what is to become of the commerce of this country in the case of war, if you are not? I hope the noble Lord will understand that in speaking strongly on this matter I am not saying that he is to blame, or that the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone is to blame, or even Lord Northbrook. I blame no individual; but I say that the system is to blame, and I contend that you are imperilling the whole of your commerce by continuing to pursue this absurd course. Just one word more. It is important for this House and the country to have some standard by which it is to measure its naval requirements. It is of no use to say that we are equal in ships to three Foreign Powers, and, therefore, we need spend no more. That would be just as reasonable as to say that Sir Charles Warren has got more police than burglars, and therefore the Estimates for the Metropolitan Police ought to be cut down. In this Metropolis do you measure the strength of your police by the number of criminals? Do you not increase your police in proportion to the growth of wealth and the area over which it is spread? We are told that the growth of the Metropolis necessitates the increase of the Police Force by 150 police constables annually. So also in the Navy—it is not a question of money primarily, but of the necessities of the case. There ought to be some standard by which the requirements of the case can be measured. Abstract comparisons with the Naval Force of other countries are worthless. Our Naval Force must be measured by our requirements, and it certainly seems to me that the strength of our Navy has not been developed in the same ratio as our responsibilities. It may be quite true that the number of Her Majesty's ships in commission may exceed those in commission of any three other Naval Powers. That, however, means nothing. I trust that in connection with the next Naval Memorandum we shall have a map issued showing by ocean districts the amount of British commerce compared with that of France, Russia, 888 Germany, and other Foreign Powers; also the number of ships and guns which England has on each ocean, and the number of ships and guns which foreign nations have. That would probably educate Parliament and the country as to the extent of our responsibilities, and the task which is imposed upon the Navy of this country. Abstract comparisons do nothing but blind people. The question of coal is all-important in these days, and it is regrettable to hear that Singapore is not adequately defended. I can say that the same statement applies to the Cape, notwithstanding the fact that the Cape is to us of the very utmost importance as a coaling station. Foreign fleets can coal at Madeira and at St. Vincent; and the moment a war breaks out, unless you have a sufficient squadron off these places to stop vessels from going in there to got supplies of coal, you would find it impossible to maintain the ocean routes for your commerce to the other side of the world, and your commerce would be absolutely paralyzed. Thus the neglect of the War Office as regards coaling stations increases Admiralty responsibilities. If that happens, who are you to hang? The noble Lord says—"I will not be hanged; I have nothing to do with the coals; they are not in my Department." I trust that in next year's Memorandum the noble Lord will not almost apologize for the expense, and hold out hopes of a reduction. I myself hope to see a greater increase of efficiency, and also a still larger expenditure. I cannot help thinking that it is nothing but moonshine to see your commerce grow and grow, and to expect to cut down your expenditure. At Singapore, for instance, where you import annually 300,000 tons of coal, the station is inadequately defended; and unless it is properly defended and maintained in time of war it would mean the stoppage of nearly the whole of your Mercantile Marine. Surely it is most unsatisfactory that a station like that should be left without proper defence, especially when we know that in that very Port of Singapore a greater average amount of tonnage is cleared and entered annually than in the whole of the Ports of the United Kingdom during the year Her Majesty commenced her Reign. We are told to cut down our Expenditure; but perhaps the Committee will allow me to mention 889 the fact that when Her Majesty began her Reign the total sea commerce of the Empire was only one-fifth of what it is now. The tonnage entering and clearing British Ports is now ten times as great, whereas our Naval Estimates are not throe times as great as at that time. Take the tonnage of the National Mercantile Marino entering and clearing the national ports, and compare the Naval Expenditure of this country with that of the other great Naval Powers. It will be found that Germany spends 7s. upon her Navy per ton of national tonnage entering and clearing national ports; Italy pays 15s. per ton for Italian ships entering and clearing Italian ports; Russia £2 10s. per ton for ships entering and clearing Russian ports; and Franco £1 1s. for her ships entering and clearing French ports. Thus you have Germany paying 7s., Italy 15s., Russia £2 10s., and Franco £1 1s., while the British Empire pays 2½d.
§ MR. PULESTON (Devonport)
I have not risen for the purpose of making any comments upon the able speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down (Captain Colomb), but rather to answer some of the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), especially where he referred to the policy of Lord Northbrook while at the Board of Admiralty. It will be in the recollection of the Committee that what the right hon. Gentlemen said as to the pressure brought to bear upon the Admiralty was quite true. It must not, however, be forgotten that before that pressure of public opinion was placed upon Lord Northbrook, the noble Lord had stated that if the £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 which was then asked for was granted by Parliament, he would not know how to use it, or what to do with it. I think I am very nearly quoting the actual words of Lord Northbrook at the time. The noble Lord found it necessary, subsequently, to give in to the public opinion of the nation at large, and that public opinion was not certainly always in accord with that of the right hon. Member for Central Bradford. Both the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman came round to it, however, very quickly at last, and they passed Votes for the purpose of putting the Navy in a proper state of efficiency. Lord 890 Northbrook, in the speech which he made on that occasion, declared his readiness to reverse his previous decision, and said that the money might be used with great advantage to the Navy and to the country. Therefore, I think that to quote what was said and done under the administration of Lord Northbrook is not saying very much, when we take these inconsistencies into consideration. I am sorry that any reference at all has been made to Lord Northbrook's administration, because I believe that the question ought to be discussed on its own merits, and in a manner befitting the importance and efficiency of the Navy, as well as the great interests of the country. The right hon. Gentleman devoted a largo portion of his speech to the political side of the question, and to some views expressed by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, the noble Lord the Member for Paddington. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford should have devoted so largo a portion of his speech to a political retrospect instead of discussing the real merits of the question. I do not desire to give any credit to one Party more than another for the steps which have been taken to reorganize the naval administration of the country; and the Memorandum of the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) ascribes no credit either to a Conservative or a Liberal Government, but decidedly and emphatically refers to the desirability of the policy of continuity. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the re-grot expressed by Lord Northbrook that the hon. Member for the Govan Division of Lanarkshire (Mr. Pearce) was placed on the recent Committee over which the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. For-wood) presided, on account of the fact that the firm with which he is connected had tendered for the construction of the ship3 which were to form the subject of inquiry. I have nothing to say about that; but the country either requires technical knowledge to be brought to boar upon an inquiry into these subjects, or it does not. For my own part, I think it was of the highest consequence to have such knowledge as my hon. Friend possesses, just as it was to have the knowledge which my hon. Friend 891 opposite (Mr. Sutherland) possesses as the head of one of the largest Steamship Companies of the country. My hon. Friend the Member for Govan has great experience in the building of large ships; and what we want and must have is the experience which he and gentlemen like himself can bring to bear upon these technical questions. Such experience, however, it would be impossible to obtain if we are to rule out every person who has an interest in the actual work. We must either adopt the one principle or the other; and if we say that we require the knowledge in these matters which a shipbuilder alone possesses, then the argument of Lord Northbrook which the right hon. Gentleman quoted falls entirely to the ground. The right hon. Gentleman has referred, in connection with the improvement and the reorganization of the Dockyards, to the difficulty of finding good men. I do not think that that is a difficulty which really exists, or that the present Board of Admiralty has found to exist. I question whether the right hon. Gentleman, when he was Secretary to the Admiralty, discovered that it was difficult to find good men. I think it is always possible to find good men in the Dockyards, and if necessary to find good men who will be willing to go there when they are wanted. I was surprised, therefore, that such a statement should have been made by the right hon. Gentleman, seeing that he has himself had considerable experience at the Board of Admiralty, and that he has always taken a deep interest in these matters. Nor can I agree with the further statement which the right hon. Gentleman made, that we should practically disestablish all the naval control in the Dockyards, and establish in its place a civil control.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I did not say that. I said that the business should be under Naval Superintendents, with a complete civil control.
§ MR. PULESTON
That is just the same thing, and we have gone as far as that in the arrangements made by the present Board of Admiralty. I quite concur that £1,000 a-year is a large salary to give to a civil assistant, and I have said that I could not concur in having an officer so largely salaried for doing the work which is now performed by the Naval Superintendent's 892 civil assistant in the Dockyards. But I think it would he carrying the principle to a grievous excess indeed in the wrong direction, if we were to give greater power to this gentleman, and piano him practically over both the Admiral Superintendent and the Chief Constructor. I admit that the position he now occupies is a very anomalous one, because he has, in reality, no power whatever; and, worse than that, he takes away a considerable amount of responsibility from the Chief Constructor, the Admiral Superintendent, and others upon whom the real responsibility ought to rest. Now, I think that is a serious consequence arising from the appointment of civil assistants. I trust that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty, when he rises to take part in the debate, will reply to some of the remarks which I felt it my duty to make on a previous evening. In addition, I hope to get some information from the hon. Gentleman about the Naval Barracks. I think it is necessary to understand what is the use they are to be put to. Some £70,000 or £80,000 has been spent upon them, and I understand that only about £3,000 or £4,000 is necessary to complete thorn. It would appear that their non-completion is due to a desire to put off the matter, because only about £1,000 is appropriated for those barracks this year. It has been stated that the Marines are to occupy them when complete, and that the Marino Barracks at Stonehouse are to be sold to the Railway Company; but I believe there is no foundation for that assertion. It is a very valuable property, and I think it will be of some interest to know what the real facts of the case are. Therefore, I hope the noble Lord, or the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty, will give the Committee such information in reference to those matters as happens to be in their possession at the present moment. There is one item to which I now desire to call the attention of the Committee—namely, the sum of £12,000 for armour-piercing projectiles paid by the Admiralty this last year. That seems to me to be a mixing up in these Estimates of what ought to be paid by the War Office. I do not understand why this item. should be in the Naval Estimates of last year, and I think that such an arrangement will lead, or rather has 893 led, to confusion in the accounts. I hope the day is not far distant when the Admiralty will have full control over its own expenditure; because I believe that is a matter of importance, so far as the efficiency of the Navy is concerned; and because I believe that much of the delay and difficulty which have taken place would have been avoided if the Navy Departments had the control of their own armaments. With reference to the reorganization of the Admiralty in respect to Dockyards, to which reference has been made, I cannot help referring incidentally, before I sit down, to the fact that every reorganization in the arrangements of the Dockyards, and in the Department of the Admiralty, necessarily entails great expenditure. It is, no doubt, quite necessary that a number of clerks and others should be pensioned off, and that the pay of men who take their place should have increased the charge by £8,000 for the coming year; but I want to impress on the Admiralty that, while we are making economies in the Dockyards, and cutting down the wages of men and discharging men too, we must not forget that a keen interest is taken by these people, by their friends, and the country generally, in the figures which show an. increase in the higher Departments, and that economies, if they are to produce contentment, should provide for reduction at the top as well as at the bottom.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
I think it is desirable that I should dispose of the questions which have been raised by hon. Members who have already spoken, and I trust my hon. Friends who wish to speak on the Estimates will pardon me for intervening at this stage of the discussion. My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Puleston) has pointed out that there is a certain charge for armour-piercing projectiles, and he asked why that item is included in the Navy Estimates. The simple explanation is that the Vote for which the War Office is responsible was already so high that it was thought impossible to include this sum; and, for that reason, and rather than leave out a provision for these projectiles, we have included the charge in the Navy Estimates. In the same way, with regard to the armaments on which these projectiles are to be tried, al- 894 though, under the present system, the War Office must provide the great bulk of the money necessary for the armament of the Navy, yet I hold, undoubtedly, that it is the right of the Navy, if they cannot get sufficient Supplies from the War Department, to get it under their own Vote. My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport also spoke of the Dockyard reorganization, and scorned to doubt the necessity of discharging a certain number of men from those establishments. We found last year that it was necessary to make a change which placed upon us the unpleasant task of having to discharge, at different times, a certain number of men; but a review of all the considerations brought home to the minds of the Board the absolute necessity for this. It was said at the time that it was our duty to find work for these men; but that doctrine is one to which I cannot assent, because it must be borne in mind that the Dockyards exist for the Navy of the country, and not for the men who are employed in them; and it is the duty of the Admiralty, therefore, to administer the Naval Department as efficiently and economically as possible, even though it may happen, and as, I fear in certain cases, it has entailed more or less hardship on individuals and distress upon localities. It is the desire of the Admiralty to put the Dockyards in a firm and impregnable position, so far as their work is concerned; but when, under the various alterations and reforms which are being pressed forward, the Dockyards become more efficient, and as soon as they are able to hold their own with private yards, there will be no opposition to asking that the great bulk of the work required by the Navy shall be done in them. With regard to the relations of the Admiralty Superintendent and the civil assistant, the principle on which we have endeavoured to proceed with regard to the Dockyards and the different Departments, is to make one man responsible for all that goes on there. If he wants more assistance we are willing that he should have it; but I am convinced that many of the undoubted blunders which have occurred in the past were owing to the system under which no one man was held thoroughly responsible for what occurred in a Department. The right hon. Gentleman 895 the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) says that he approves of this appointment of civil assistant; but, if so, I think it is unfortunate that he should have spoken of his work as that of a spy. The right hon. Gentleman has made use of a most unfortunate epithet; it is one which I think is not calculated to assist that officer in the difficult work which he has to do in the Dockyards. How is it possible that any man can discharge the duty of supervising labour at the Dockyards if a distinguished Liberal, one of the Members of this House, characterizes his work as that of a spy? The very word illustrates the way in which the right hon. Gentleman approaches the discussion of naval questions. He looks on the question from a Party point of view, and anything which is not associated with himself, or his Party, he feels bound to disparage and depreciate. He commenced his speech by saying that I have made a statement which is not true, and which is unfair to Lord Northbrook, and to the Board of which Lord Northbrook was the head. I have great respect for Lord Northbrook, and I should be very sorry to say anything that was unfair of him, or of the Board over which he presided. What are the statements which the right hon. Gentleman characterized as untrue, but which he did not prove to be so? I stated in my Report that "in the period between 1881 and 1880 every Naval Power in Europe save Englargely increased its naval expenditure." Well, that is true. The right hon. Gentleman could not deny that it was true. But he says—" You ought not to have made that statement, because in the period antecedent to 1881 the Conservatives were in power." What on earth has that do with my statement? I submit that what must to a great extent influence the expenditure of this country is the expenditure of foreign nations. We cannot help noticing what foreign nations do in this respect, and it is apparent that during the period I have named, Franco and Germany had enormously increased their naval expenditure.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I stated that between 1881 and 1885, France had not. increased her naval expenditure, and I called attention to the statement of the noble Lord as to the position of England during that time.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
I showed the other day that while the expenditure of France had increased 30 or 40 per cent. our expenditure had only increased 16 per cent for the period 1876–1886; and it is the fact that between 1881 and 1885 the total expenditure of France largely increased, and I wont on to say that "England was the last Naval Power to recognize these new conditions." That is true; and it was because of that the large Vote was brought forward by Lord Northbrook, All I asserted was that if that expenditure had been spread over a larger number of years, greater care would have been taken in disbursing it, and the nation would have derived greater benefit from the outlay. The Statement which I drew up and which is laid before the country, presents an accurate view of the naval affairs of the nation. If it happens to reflect on any particular Administration, what does that matter to the country—if it is true? I do not believe the House of Commons to be a hard master, in the matter of expenditure) on the Navy, provided the Government take the House into its confidence, and make a full and frank statement. Every Government is liable to make blunders, and it is the duty of those who succeed them to seek to benefit by past experience, in order to remedy those blunders. If the Board with which I have the honour to be associated should commit blunders, is it to be supposed that a succeeding Government is to be deterred from commenting upon the faults of our Administration? What was the Administration up to 1885, which the right hon. Gentleman champions? Was it a satisfactory Administration? Does the Report in any way strain the facts? Why, one hon. Gentleman, who is perhaps the greatest authority on shipbuilding in the House, the Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Reed) fell foul of me the other night, because he said I made far too favourable defence of what he calls the blunders of that Administration. What are the facts? In the Memorandum to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, he will find the following passage:—With the important exception of being more deeply immersed than was anticipated, the Impérieuse, in her trials, fully realized the expectation of her designer, and notwithstanding her deep draft, she is now, taking the 897 essentials of speed, armament, and armour into consideration, if not actually the most powerful, one of the most powerful iron-clad cruisers afloat of her tonnage.And that is what the right hon. Gentleman calls undue depreciation of the vessel. The right hon. Gentleman was Secretary to the Board of Admiralty which occupied itself in laying down vessels of the Impérieuse, Warspite, Admiral, and belted cruiser class. There is a great dispute as to whether or not those belts were deep enough. Into that dispute I will not now enter; but the Committee will understand that where there is a narrow belt of armour over the vital part, so to speak, of the ship, it is essential that the draught of the vessel should be what was anticipated when she was laid down. Every one of those ships was more deeply immersed than she ought to have been. Why was that? Because, at the time they were laid down, proper co-operation did not exist between the different Departments relative to their complement and armour-plates. What happened with reference to the Benbow? She is a vessel which was to carry two 67-ton guns; but the armament was suddenly changed to two 110-ton guns; and the consequence was, that she had to carry additional weight on that account, and also on account of shot and ammunition. The Rodney was designed to carry 43-ton guns, and, after she was laid down, that was altered to 63-ton guns. In the case of the belted cruisers, the complement of men was put down at 350; but it was found that the crew necessary to work the guns was 421 men. Every one of these mistakes could have been prevented. I allude to this matter, not for the purpose of finding fault with the late Board of Admiralty, but in order to show to the country that the present Board have made an alteration which we believe will be beneficial. It consists in this—that when a design of a ship is approved by the Board of Admiralty, each single officer—the First Lord, the Comptroller, and Chief Engineer—should, in consultation with the designer, fix the weight of the engines, the number of the complement, and the exact nature of the armament, that they should estimate the exact weight necessary to supply that complement and armament; and then that they should attach their signatures to 898 the contract, after which no alteration shall be made. I have alluded to the fact that these ships were more deeply immersed than they ought to have been, because that is a very great blunder, and because every one of them will have a belt of much less utility than it was intended to be. [An hon. MEMBER: Are any of the belts under the water?] That depends much on the quantity of coal on board. The second mistake in the action of the late Board is to be found in the fact that, for the purpose of obtaining high speed, the designer was in the habit of associating the trial of vessels with what are called legend weights. The statements made in this House with reference to trials were thoroughly misleading. They were misleading because, if the vessel has her full supply of coal on board, it is evident that she cannot attain such a high rate of speed as when she has not her full quantity on board. Having detected this, it was my duty to show, as clearly as I could, what the Board of Admiralty unanimously decided upon to prevent its recurrence. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that I wrote this Memorandum for the purpose of causing pain to those who held Office before us. If the right hon. Gentleman objects to that Statement, let him read the evidence laid before several Committees, and the Reports made by the Select Committee as to the state of things existing at the Admiralty in 1885. Lot him read the evidence of General Graham on the Dockyards, and he will see that the language used is far stronger than anything I have said in this Memorandum, for I knew how much Party fooling entered into the discussion on the Navy Estimates in this House, and I was anxious to start with no such embarrassment. The right hon. Gentleman wont on to say that the programme of work proposed to be laid down is of a very moderate character. What is the position in which we find ourselves? There is provision made for additions to the Navy which have never before been made in one year. We found that we were able to produce this result by placing all the power we could on the vessels that were building; and we felt, until that was done, it was not advisable to launch into a more extensive programme. But there was another consideration. If we had laid down a 899 large number of sloops and gunboats, we should have been compelled largely to increase the Dockyard Establishments; but next year, when we have finished the iron-clads now building, there will be a considerable reduction in the Establishments. When we came into Office, there were in, the Dockyards 80,000 to 100,000 tons in iron-clads perfectly useless to the country. They were all near completion; and the lesson we have learned is this—if you want to turn those vessels out of the Dockyards rapidly, you must lay them down at such intervals that you can afford full and continuous employment for each branch at the Dockyards. The policy which we have pursued is to complete all the vessels in hand as soon as possible; and then, when the}' are finished, to fill up the gaps by laying down fresh vessels. The right hon. Gentleman says there has been no alteration in the law which constituted the Board of Admiralty. But there has been an alteration in the system. Under the present law, and under the Order in Council, the First Lord of the Admiralty is primarily responsible to Parliament and the country for the Navy and the expenditure connected with it. The other night I stated that the two Orders in Council of 1869 and 1872 illustrated the different manner in which the Admiralty has been worked. Under the Order in Council of 1869, the right hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) speaks of the Lords of the Admiralty as his "assistants;" his object being, as he practically admitted, to reduce the Board of Admiralty to the same condition as the Board of Trade, which has very little to do. Then the second Order was passed which rescinded the Order in Council of 1869. Then the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer came into Office, and he passed a second Order in Council, which rescinded that of 1869, striking out that objectionable word "assistants," and putting the Naval Lords in their proper position—that of Colleagues of the First Lord. Since I, myself, have been at the Admiralty I have endeavoured—and Lord Ripon worked on the same lines—I have endeavoured to give as much authority as possible to the Naval Lords, each in his own Department. The first object of our desire, therefore, is to give the Naval Lords, as far as 900 their own Departments are concerned, as much power as possible; and the second object is to ensure, so far as the general question of policy goes, that there should be full and adequate discussion at the Board. The question is raised in another sense by the omission of my noble and gallant Friend's (Lord Charles Beresford) name from the Estimates. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bow (Captain Colomb) seems to think it would be better if in future the names of all the Lords of the Admiralty were attached to the Memorandum laid before the House. I do not think that is possible. If you have a largo number of people to draw up a Report, the probability is that the Report will not be very satisfactory. It is a curious fact that, previous to 1869, when the powers of the Junior Lords were greater than they are now—and when nearly all the business of the Admiralty was transacted before a full Board—it was not the practice of all the Lords, although they were responsible for the Estimates, to sign them. It was then insisted that all the Lords should sign the Estimates, and I find that the signatures came to be given as a matter of course. I thought that a somewhat objectionable practice; and, therefore, before these Estimates were presented, I asked my Colleagues whether they had any objection to sign them, and my noble and gallant Friend (Lord Charles Beresford) said that, inasmuch as he was not cognizant of ail the Estimates and their details, he thought it was better he should not attach his name to them, although he fully agreed with the policy embodied in them. It is a matter for consideration whether anyone should attach his name to any document of this kind unless he has had an opportunity of going through the whole it. It is perfectly evident to the House, as business men, that the mass of complicated figures such as this, comprising 100 pages, cannot well go before each individual Member of the Board in that manner. What can be done was done in the present instance. the policy which is embodied in the Estimates was fully discussed, the shipbuilding programme was agreed to, and then it was left to my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Forwood) and myself to go through the Estimates and, in connection with the Naval Lords, who are 901 responsible for each individual Department, put the figures into shape. I think, however, it is a proper matter for consideration whether, in subsequent years, it would not be better to go back to the old practice, and for all the Members of the Board to sign the whole document, or whether each of them should only attach his name, so that each Lord may sign those Estimates for which he is personally responsible. Now, with regard to the subject of the Intelligence Department, which has been referred to in the discussion, I am glad to say we have secured the services of about 10 of the ablest young officers in the Navy, and I believe they will be able satisfactorily to perform their duties not at a cost of £20,000, as an hon. Member has suggested, but at a cost of something like £4,000 or £5,000 a-year. It will be seen at once that, as the officers I have mentioned are on The Navy List, their employment in the Intelligence Department does not involve any additional charge, so far as pensions are concerned. Well, then, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) approved of the proposal to estimate the value of the Navy by giving a capital sum, as representing the value of the Navy, and appropriating an annual sum for the purpose of meeting depreciation and waste. I believe that the figures which are contained in my Memorandum will stand the test of time; but when the right hon. Gentleman draws a comparison between the figures in my Memorandum and the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty in Lancashire some time back, it is only right I should say that this idea and the figures are those of my hon. Friend; and I am sure both the Board of Admiralty and the House are much indebted to him for the ability and energy with which he has worked out the idea. I believe he puts before the House, in a plain and intelligible way, what is the sum which ought to be spent annually to keep our Navy up to the requisite strength. My experience is that it is no use placing before the Committee an enormous mass of figures; what, I presume, hon. Members would like to have is a simple account which, at one glance, will tell them what we are doing, what we propose to do, and what 902 ought to be done. There are many business men in the House, and I believe this idea of annually voting a sum neither more or less than that which we consider to be requisite to make good the waste and depreciation of our Fleet is one which will commend itself to their minds. There is a considerable difference between the total of the capital account in this Memorandum and that which my hon. Friend gave in Lancashire; but his estimate in Lancashire included a number of things which are excluded in the Memorandum. My hon. Friend's estimate included all the gun-mountings and armaments; and if we take into consideration the total cost of the armaments and gun-mountings, which amounts to something over £10,000,000, there is practically only a slight difference between my hon. Friend's estimate and the estimate in my Memorandum of about £200,000. The estimate my hon. Friend gave in Lancashire was not an estimate worked out by actuaries as that contained in the Memorandum is, but it was a rough estimate made from the materials which he had during the time at his command.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I drew attention to the fact that the Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. Forwood) arrived at the estimate of £3,000,000. and that then he stated that the late Board had only provided £1,800,000. The latter figure certainly did not include either armaments or gun-mountings.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
I am not myself cognizant of all the details of my hon. Friend's (Mr. Forwood's) speech; he is quite able to take care of himself, and I have no doubt that, later on, he will satisfactorily explain any statement that he made. Then, allusion was made to the speech I delivered at the Mansion House on Lord Mayor's Day. Now, Sir, what distresses me very greatly is that it is the habit of certain writers in the Press to constantly depreciate everything connected with the Navy, and the result is that a wholly false estimate of the naval strength of this country is convoyed to the minds of people. I believe there are persons in this country who believe we have got the worst Navy in the world; and I believe it to be a great advantage to this country that there are here competent naval attachés, representing various foreign Governments, who are able to 903 represent to their Governments what our real naval strength is. Therefore, on the occasion in question, I was anxious to lay before the country and the world a clear statement of the condition of things. I pointed out that we had as many ships in commission as any three naval Powers; but I never implied that we wished to fight, or considered ourselves a match for any three naval Powers that were in a thoroughly satisfactory condition. On the contrary, the views I then laid down were in full accordance with those expressed in this Memorandum before the Committee. We have made great progress with our iron-clads; we have now coming on a large number of efficient cruisers; but all naval officers will agree with me when I say that a great portion of our sloops and gunboats are obsolete and quite unsuited to the requirements of modern naval warfare. There is one remark I must make with reference to these gunboats and sloops. I find that a considerable portion of these gunboats and sloops are in their first commission, but that they are quite obsolete in respect to speed. I do hope that, whoever may be at the Admiralty, they will take care that, when small vessels are laid down, they are of the requisite speed and have sufficient power in them. Every year speed is becoming a more essential fact in naval warfare, and it is possible for a vessel of comparatively limited displacement to attain a high speed. I am sorry I have detained the Committee at so considerable a length. I have, I think, shown that this Memorandum of mine was drawn up in no partizan spirit, but with an anxious desire to secure efficiency without undue expenditure. When the present Board of Admiralty accepted Office, all of us were determined to do our best to attain that object. We were conscious we might have difficulties to contend with. We knew we might come in contact with some of the old usages of the Service, and have to confront local prejudices and class prejudices; but we felt that the duty imposed upon us was one from which we ought not to shrink. I am confident that if Boards of Admiralty will frankly lay their case before the House of Commons without exaggeration—if they point out what has been done, the manner in which it has been done, and what 904 is required to be done—I believe this House will always give a most patient and attentive consideration to any such appeal. I believe, moreover, that no difficulty will be experienced in obtaining the money required to put the Navy in efficient condition, provided that there are guarantees that the money will not be wasted.
§ MR. C. H. WILSON (Hull, W.)
Mr. Chairman, it appears to me that the Statement of the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) is of a very melancholy character, because what does it mean? It means that the British Admiralty is only now—in the year 1887—learning a very elementary portion of its duty in the administration of the Navy. We, who are connected with the Mercantile Marine of this country, have been brought up to do exactly what the Admiralty now propose to do. In building ships for the Mercantile Navy it has been our custom to study every point—to consider what work particular ships have to do, what speed they are to go, and what weights they have to carry—but it seems to me that the building of ships for the British Navy has been very much a matter of chance. Why has that been so? Because of the system hitherto prevailing that ships have been laid down, and instead of being built as speedily as possible, the time of construction has varied, and in some cases has been as long as seven or eight years. I believe I am correct in saying that, at present, the capabilities of the country are such that the very largest iron-clad could be built within two years, and oven in two years there are certain alterations which could not be avoided, on account of the strides now made in mechanical science. But these alterations ought to be allowed for in the Estimates. Instead of that, everything is drawn down to the very finest point, and there is no margin loft for any contingency. What is the consequence? Even, according to the statement of the noble Lord, very few of our recently constructed vessels of war are up to the requirements for which they wore intended. During the late war scare large sums of public money were expended, but still the old reckless system prevails. Now-a-days ships are ordered by the half-dozen; but when they are completed, it is found there are great deficiencies in them. If one vessel were to 905 be built at a time as speedily as possible, we should be able to find out exactly what that vessel could do, and what improvements could be made. It must be borne in mind that we have, in this country, great private shipbuilding yards, owned by gentlemen who are very competent to be of great service to the State in giving advice in the designing and the construction of vessels for the Navy. Although we are, after all, greatly indebted to the professional gentlemen connected with the Navy, we cannot blind ourselves to the fact that their profession prompts them to take a somewhat shortsighted view, compels them to run in too narrow a groove. Now, if the Admiralty, when they have once made up their minds as to the class of vessel they think suited for certain services, would consult with the different private builders, I feel sure great improvements could be made in the designs of Her Majesty's ships of war. Having sat in this House for a great many years, I have noticed the repetitions of the same old stories. We have had hon. Members rising, gone-rally from the Conservative Benches, and telling us that a great deal of money has to be spent. Their excuse is that the expenditure is necessary for the defence of the Mercantile Navy of the country. The Mercantile Navy wants defending, but the taxpayers of the country want defending also. The speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bow (Captain Colomb) made me wonder whether the world was so big that there were so many British interests to defend. According to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's view, it is not £12,000,000 of money that is required to protect our interests in the different parts of the world, but I should imagine it must be something like £100,000,000 of the money of the British taxpayers. ["No!"] I think I am correct in saying that, if all the requirements of the hon. and gallant Gentleman were complied with, that not much short of an expenditure of £100,000,000 would be requisite annually. But I rose more especially to call attention to the peculiar agreement which has been made by the Admiralty, sanctioned by the Treasury, for what is called the subvention of merchant steamers for State purposes. Looking through the noble Lord's Memorandum, 906 I find that the excuse for that subvention is, that £500,000 of the British taxpayers' money was wasted during the late war scare in hiring fast merchant vessels. I have not the slightest doubt that every penny of that £600,000 was wasted. I have not the slightest doubt that every penny that is going to be spent on this subvention of merchant steamers for State purposes will be also wasted. Although I do not like to bring, what may appear, mere Party politics before the Committee, there have been some whisperings that, when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) stood as a candidate for the representation of one of the Divisions of Liverpool, a feeling prevailed in Liverpool that the people there had been badly treated by the present Government in the taking of the mails away from Liverpool and giving them to the North German Lloyd steamers sailing from Southampton. That may or may not have been the fact; but, any way, we do know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not returned for Liverpool. Well, now, shortly afterwards we find that this agreement has been made with the White Star Company and the Cunard Company, by which a certain price has been fixed for the hire of certain of their vessels. Knowing what I do of merchant steamers, I am prepared to say that the price fixed for the White Star steamers—which are not modern steamers, which have an old class of engines, and which, in other ways, are not suited for the purpose intended—is utterly unreasonable and extravagant. The price fixed for the Britannic, for instance, is £130,000. If the vessel were put in the market it is very likely it would be impossible to get half that sum for it. A new vessel of the same class with modern machinery, could be built for a considerably less sum than the price named for the Britannic. But in addition to the price of £130,000 fixed, if the vessel is taken by the Government, 10 per cent is to be added to that price, which makes another£13,000; so you give £143,000 for a merchant steamer which is supposed to be of some service to the country as a fast cruiser, but which, I fear, will not be found to be the case. Now, let us consider what is the arrangement with the Cunard Company. The vessels of this Company to be taken are those— 907 the Umbria. the Etruria, and the Aurania. The price of the Etruria. is fixed at £310,000. I am not prepare to make the statement as a fact, but I am under the impression, having made some engines, that a new vessel of the Etruria class, also with modern engines, could be built for, from £220,000 to £250,000. But in the case of the Etruria you also add 10 per cent, which makes £30,000, or a total of £340,000. In addition to that, you are going to give to the White Star and Cunard boats what a barrister would call a retaining fee of 15s. a-ton, making £5,100 a-year for each ship. What does that mean? It means that to a Company that is running in competition with other Companies, you are giving out of the taxpayers' money a subsidy which places them at an advantage over others who are competing with them in the same trade. Then you fix the hire of these vessels at 20s. a-ton per month. Any shipowner in the country would only be too glad to get 20s. per ton per month for his vessels. The fleet of the Peninsular and Oriental Company is about 200,000 tons; so a retaining fee of 15s. per ton per annum would sum up to £150,000 per annum. During the late scare, when transport vessels were wanted, and when so much money was wasted by the late Government, the hire of merchant steamers was down as low as 10s. and 11s. per ton per month. And when you have got these vessels, when you have spent this money on them, my own opinion is they will be utterly useless as armed cruisers, and that this agreement will result in a gross waste of public money. Another point in this subvention, but to which, perhaps, my remarks do not apply as strongly, is, that when now vessels are built which come up to the Admiralty requirements, they are to come under the terms of the subvention, and they are also to have a retaining fee. I am very doubtful, indeed, as to the wisdom of this arrangement; but, anyhow, the last provision of the subvention I have mentioned is very much better than that by which you take old unsuitable vessels, fix an enormous price upon them, give them a retaining fee, and also fix what is a very largo and profitable price upon them for their hire. Those of us who are connected with steam shipping know that, every now and then, the country gets 908 into a state of alarm, merchant steamers are taken up in a somewhat reckless manner, large hire is paid, and in some cases it has been a godsend to Companies to have their vessels taken; in. more than one case it has saved the Company from premature bankruptcy. I do not apply tin's remark to this agreement; but what has happened ought to be a warning to this Government, and to any Government, not to make such a foolish agreement as this—a totally unnecessary agreement—and not to waste money in the way suggested. If the Government of this country think they have £50,000 a-year to spare—although I am now perhaps entering upon a different subject—let them grant that as an annual subsidy to the distress in the Metropolis, and we may excuse them; but as things stand, I unhesitatingly say that this is an agreement that ought not to be ratified by the House of Commons, and if there is an opportunity when the Vote comes forward of pronouncing against it, I shall certainly do so, either in Committee or in the House.
COLONEL, HUGHES-HALLETT (Rochester)
I should not have intervened in this discussion to-night had it not been for two Questions asked in the House this afternoon by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Yarmouth (Sir Henry Tyler) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Finsbury (Mr. J. Rowlands). These Questions induce me to ask the Committee to allow me to say a few words upon the subject referred to in them. It will be fresh in the recollection of the Committee that a short time ago some rather painful discoveries were made as to the sale of designs of ships of war at Chatham Dockyard; and I am reminded by what has occurred to-day of a Question I put during the last Session of Parliament to the First Lord of the Admiralty. I asked whether it was true, as stated in the American Press, that the United States Government had managed to obtain confidential plans and specifications of some of our ships of war. The noble Lord seemed to think that the Question imputed rather a breach of trust to some of our officials. Well, I happen to have with me the extract from the American Press upon which I based my question—having provided myself with it to-day on seeing in the Paper the Notices of the Questions to which I have alluded. 909 The Army and Navy Register, of Washington—a journal occupying in America a position similar to our Army and Navy Gazette, says—Secretary Whitney"—that is the official at the head of the American Navy—"has determined to include in the list of new cruisers for which proposals are to be invited, the large unarmoured cruiser authorized by the Bill passed two weeks ago to increase the naval establishment, and has directed that for this vessel the plans prepared by Chief Constructor White, of England, for the ship known as No. 27, be used. These plans contemplate a vessel of greater power and speed than any cruiser now afloat—in fact, the very highest-powered vessel of the kind in the world at the time of completion.Then follow the details and dimensions of the ship, with which I will not trouble the Committee. I think hon. Gentlemen will agree with me that I had some reason for asking the First Lord of the Admiralty the Question I did—they will agree that I was justified in asking whether the statement contained in this extract was true or false. Since then—only a few days ago—a statement was made in the papers to the effect that these very designs to which that Question referred were parted with by Chief Constructor White, when he was not in the employ of the Admiralty. Mr. White, therefore, is absolved from blame in this matter; but the Committee will remark that in the paragraph I have read, upon which I founded my Question, there was no indication of that kind. I am reminded of the observations of the hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Reed) the other night, who mentioned what struck me as a strange piece of information—namely, that Mr. White, whilst Chief Constructor at the Admiralty, was allowed to do work—of course including the execution of designs—for the firm of Armstrong and Company, of Elswick.
§ LOUD GEORGE HAMILTON
As I have several times before stated, Mr. White was in the Admiralty, and he left-it when he became head of the shipbuilding yard of Messrs. Armstrong and Company. When the Chief Constructor of the Admiralty, Sir Nathaniel Barnaby, retired, I offered the appointment to Mr. White; but the greatest difficulty in the matter was the desire of Messrs. Armstrong and Company to retain him in their service. The only condition Messrs. Armstrong and Company made on parting with him, was that they might be allowed 910 to consult him in certain contingencies with regard to uncompleted contracts.
§ COLONEL HUGHES-HALLETT
I simply mention what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff said, and I hope the Committee will understand that, not for one moment, do I impute blame to Mr. White. Passing that matter by, I should like to direct the attention of hon. Members to a curious publication which appeared in America not long ago, issued for private circulation by the Naval Constructor of the United States Navy. It appears from that publication that two years ago the United States Naval Constructor was requested and required by the Secretary to the United States Navy to go over to England with the view of learning all he could as to our "improvements in naval architecture, and especially with regard to the steel ships of war." In the preface to this book are set forth the communications made by the then Secretary of the United States Navy to this Naval Constructor, Mr. Philip Hitchborn. This gentleman was informed that the Bureau of Construction would defray all his expenses; that he was to keep vouchers of those expenses; but that when vouchers were not given, he was to keep the best record he could. Mr. Hitchborn came over to England, and visited Pembroke Dockyard first, where he met with some success. While there he obtained, in some way or other, detailed information from specifications of the size and form of the composite barbette ships Anson and Howe, and a photograph of the double bottom of the Howe. He was also supplied somehow with extracts of specifications of the Forth and the Thames, which were being constructed there at the same time. That was all the information he could obtain at Pembroke. At Devonport Dockyard his efforts were crowned with greater success; for he obtained geographical and descriptive estate plans of that Dockyard, and of the Keyham Steam-Yard or machine factor}'. These plans were much fuller than could have been obtained from the Ordnance Survey or any published plan. They are strictly Admiralty confidential information, and the question is how could, Mr. Hitchborn have obtained them? He could not have obtained a staff of surveyors and naval architects to measure up and plot off these extensive establishments, because the proceeding would 911 have had to be done in the open, and it would have been detected and stopped at once. He could not have obtained his information by a bird's-eye view, as the plans are geographically and mathematically exact in their details. Somehow or other he got hold of detailed information. He also procured information from specifications of the Mariner, Racer, and Icarus, sloops of 970 tons displacement; particulars of the Royalist and Amphion, sister ships; and some particulars of the Tamar, troopship, which had put in at that time for repairs. At Portsmouth Dockyard, Mr. Hitchborn obtained specifications and particulars of the following ships:—Collingwood, Colossus, Camperdown, Impérieuse, Hecla, and Polyphemus; a sot of detailed working drawings of the Calliope; the detailed construction of the 'midship section of the Mersey, and a plan of the fighting-deck of the Mersey, with its general arrangement of machine-guns, etc. Then he went on to Chatham, where he obtained specifications, etc., of the fast cruisers Severn, Arethusa, Leander, Phœton, etc.; worded particulars of structural details of the Rodney and Hero; copies of the confidential detailed plans of the 'midship section of the Rodney; and particulars of the composite construction of the Caroline. I have now in my possession facsimiles of the drawings Mr. Hitchborn obtained, and I should be glad to show them to any hon. Member who may desire to see them. The question is, were these plans and specifications confidential, or were they not? If they were, how did this gentleman manage to get hold of them; and if they were not, there is no need to make any fuss about the disclosure of naval secrets, and no need to talk about the desirability of meting out punishment to anyone? I say, if these plans and specifications were confidential how did Mr. Hitchborn get possessed of them? The Dockyard officials would never have given them to him, nor would the Admiralty officials—it seems to me preposterous to imagine such a thing for a moment. The only inference we can draw is that these plans and designs and specifications were obtained from Pembroke, Devonport, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Chatham in the same way that they were obtained from Chatham the other day. I asked the Government a few days ago whether the man Terry 912 who had been detected selling these designs at Chatham had ever been employed as naval draughtsman in any other Dockyard except that of Chatham; for if he had been at Pembroke, Devon-port, Plymouth and Portsmouth, Mr. Hitchborn's possession of these plans and specifications might have been accounted for; but it seems that before his employment in Chatham Dockyard he was nothing but assistant overseer at some works in Sheffield. The conclusion we must come to, therefore, is that there were some other Young Terrys lying around at the other Dockyards, ready for some miserable gain to sell the secrets of their country. What Powers have been supplied with these plans? What other country, besides America, is in possession of this detailed information concerning the characteristics of our ships and the formation of our Dockyards. It is possible that some other Powers may have them. It is true that at the present moment we are at peace; but we never know now-a-days when we may have to expect war—we never know how soon or how far friendly relations existing between us and other nations may be broken. I hope hon. Members will bear this in mind, that though we may not suffer in time of peace through a foreign Power possessing the plans and designs of our ships, in time of war these very designs will be used against us to our detriment. It seems to me that it is nothing short of high treason, in time either of war or peace, for anyone to sell to a foreign Government any description of Her Majesty's ships. I do not know how hon. Members take it; but it does seem to me that designs and specifications relating to our vessels of war should be kept in the strictest manner confidential, all knowledge of them being confined to this country, seeing the enormous amount our taxpayers have to pay in respect of them. No considerations of courtesy or etiquette should permit any English official to make known to the Representative of any foreign Power such information as this; and I do hope and trust that if these designs are hold by the Admiralty to be confidential—and I assume they are so hold as we are told—although we are told that foreign attachés are allowed to look at thorn and examine them, but not to take them away—the noble Lord the First Lord of 913 the Admiralty will not content himself with issuing the new rules to which he has referred, and with putting up proclamations in the Dockyards—on the principle, I am very much afraid, of locking the stable door after the horse is stolen—but that if the existing law is not strong enough to punish these offences I have referred to, he will use his influence to get it amended speedily, so that it will be possible to visit with the very severest penalties, such as imprisonment with hard labour, those who recklessly and wilfully sell the designs of Her Majesty's Navy to foreign Powers, thereby imperilling the safety of the country.
GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUE (Kincardine)
I desire to give credit to the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty for the improvements which he has effected in the form in which the Navy Estimates have been laid before the House. I had an idea that the Army Estimates were better arranged than those for the Navy; but I see that a I great improvement has taken place in regard to the Appendices of the latter, and I trust that any defect which still may be found to exist with regard to them will be remedied by the noble Lord. In regard to the naval guns, about which I spoke last week, I had not seen the details set forth in the Appendix, but I think there are still some defects in the information which should be remedied. When we had nothing but wooden ships, we had an accurate list not only of the number of the vessels, but of the armaments of these vessels. We had an establishment of four fleets each of 30 line-of-battle ships, making 120 line-of-battle ships, armed with 17,500 guns. Since, however, the old establishment was broken up, we have always been at a loss as to what the exact armament of the new Navy should be. Until we have an accurate system established, it will be impossible to found any conclusion upon the cost and the number of guns. At one time the establishment of guns seem to be 3,000 breech-loaders; but at another time we are led to understand that it is 3,000, and in the present Memorandum and Appendix there is not a single word of information on the point of the guns forming the armament of the Fleet now maintained. In connection with the list of ships which go to make up the £39,000,000 of 914 capital that is expended on the present Navy, there is no mention of any kind of armament put in the ships. In regard, however, to the vessels now building in the Government Dockyards, and building by contract, there is a careful statement made as to the cost of armament, but no statement as to the calibre of the guns that are required. When I mention that the amount in the Army Estimates to be taken for the guns, &c, of the ships building is £1,062,200, it will be seen that the amount for guns is not alone sufficient, but also we need the calibres and numbers.
THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. FOKWOOD) (Lancashire, Ormskirk)
The armaments are set out in the Appendix. Under the name of each ship the armaments are carefully given.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
the armaments specified of which I have a Memorandum are armaments for the general fitting out of the ships for | service this year. But I will not fail to study the Table more carefully. As I understand the correction of the Secretary, the armaments given in the Appendix are for ships now building in Her Majesty's Dockyards and by contract. I fail, however, to see that the number and calibre of the guns composing the armament of Her Majesty's existing Navy are given. In connection with the one set of vessels fitting out, we have it set out that there are 308 guns, which is a very small number, indeed, compared with the total armament of the Navy. These are intended for the 15 vessels fitting out for actual service this year. It would be as well if we could have two complete lists prepared, showing the number and calibre of guns for the ships completed, and the number of guns for those building and fitting out and in service. I understand that in the case of these 308 guns, which are intended as the armament for the 15 vessels fitting out, there are no less than 15 different calibres. That is a great evil. Stores and projectiles are multiplied, and expense incurred for such varieties of guns. Great confusion also arises in consequence of describing some guns by the weight of the shot they throw, and calling others 10-inch guns and 18-ton guns, and 12-inch and 55-ton guns. These distinctions are confusing; and I feel convinced 915 that if something is not done to rectify that evil, Her Majesty's Government will find some day that a great mistake: will occur, which will be attended with, disastrous consequences, in giving out guns, projectiles, and stores to the different ships. The matter is one of great importance, and I feel sure that hon. Members connected with the Naval Service will appreciate what I say. There is another point connected with the Admiralty to which I wish to draw attention, and that is the question of taking stores from the War Department. I cannot protest too strongly against this system of allowing the Navy to be supplied in these matters by the War Office; and I think the Secretary to the Admiralty would effect a great good by taking over stores from the manufacturers at first hand. It is not necessary to have those stores in the War Office magazines. Each vessel afloat or in the Reserve has its own complement of guns, stores, and ammunition, and might as well be at once handed over to the Admiralty. So also the 308 guns that I have referred to might be at once provided for in the Navy Estimates, and handed over to the Naval Authorities. Nothing but confusion will take place unless this is done. I further reiterate my advice that the Admiralty have in their gunners, boatswains, carpenters, and other ranks, men well fitted to act as storekeepers.
§ MR. JENNINGS (Stockport)
The naval experts who have taken part in this debate have expressed the opinion that we do not spend sufficient money on the Navy, and that a great deal more-money ought to be devoted to this purpose every year. But I, on the other hand, think that the outside public are convinced that quite enough money is spent on the Navy, if it were wisely spent; and, in arriving at that conclusion, I have been very much influenced by the tone and tender of the remarks of those who are best acquainted with the real condition of the Navy—especially the remarks of such Gentlemen as the hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Reed). Now, Sir, in the Statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty which has been laid before the Committee, the expenditure for the year ending 31st March, 1888, is estimated at about £12,500,000, and we are bidden to expect a reduction of £793,000 on the Estimates of the present year. It 916 must be quite evident that this is a case of reckoning our chickens before they are hatched. No doubt, the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty expects to see his Estimates come out as they appear now on paper; but no Estimates ever come out at the end of the financial year as they have been originally placed before the country. What usually happens is that, towards the end of the financial year, it is found necessary to introduce Supplementary Estimates. This year, as the Committee is aware, they amounted for the Navy to £277,000; and the Estimates, about which such a great flourish was made 12 months ago, turn out to have been based on the fiscal principle of Mr. Member. I have very little doubt that the Estimates of the present year are destined to meet with a similar fate, and that we, none of us, shall know, until the end of March next, what the expenditure has been. In all probability, there will be a bundle of more or less important accounts tacked on to the Estimates before us this time next year. Last year, the late Secretary to the Admiralty explained to us that from 1871 to 1880, under a Conservative Administration, the expenditure upon the Navy averaged £11,133,000, and that from 1880 to 1886, under a Liberal Administration, the annual expenditure was £11,500,000. This amount has now been brought up to close upon £12,500,000; and I think the general tone of the Naval Members of the House is that £12,500,000 is not nearly sufficient to keep up an efficient Navy. I am myself satisfied, however, that the great body of the taxpayers think that it is a great deal too much to pay for such a Navy as we have, especially in times of depressed trade. When we consider that this amount is £4,500,000 more than the cost of both Army and Navy during the time of the Crimean War, I think that the conclusion at which the outside public have arrived is fully justified. It is, of course, easy to understand that there should be a considerable increase in the cost of the Army and Navy since the time of the Crimean War; but is it not a fact that it is chiefly the wastefulness which has increased? If it is not so, how is it that we have hoard from the hon. Member for Cardiff that; £1,500,000 has been as much wasted as if it had been thrown into the sea? And how is it, again, that we have heard from 917 the First Lord of the Admiralty himself, of vessels the armour of which is below the water line? If this sort of mismanagement were stopped, and if the money were spent in a legitimate manner, and not upon fat contracts which do not benefit the nation—which benefit nobody but i the favoured contractors—there could be no sort of question that the burdens which now press so severely' upon taxpayers might be materially lightened, and we should have a far more efficient Fleet. We have been told, and, no doubt, with truth, that it is the practice—not a mere accidental occurrence—to build vessels on the Clyde, and to send them to Devonport to be pulled to pieces again, before they have done any work, or seen any service at all. The last Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General abounds in statements which show that the money of the taxpayers is not devoted to its legitimate use. Will any naval export in the House explain to the Committee, and to the country, how it is that while the prices of labour have decreased considerably in every private shipbuilding yard, they have increased—indeed, more than doubled—in Her Majesty's Dockyards? The Admiralty itself pays far less for some of its materials than it did—as, for instance, iron plates which, in 1874, cost £19 per ton, in 1883 were £18 per ton. Lead and copper, in the same way, have decreased materially in price; but has there been any proportionate decrease in expenditure? Nothing of the kind. The expenditure continually advances, and the result is a continual disappointment to those who are expecting real and practical reforms to be set on foot at the Admiralty. I defy anyone to sit here as a mere outsider, knowing nothing whatever about naval matters, and listening to the statements that are made by those who do know about them, and not feel satisfied that the money wrung from the public by all sorts of objectionable taxes, such as the Income Tax, is neither rightly nor usefully spent. If they want to get some idea where the money goes, I would earnestly advise the Members who have not yet read them, and people out-of-doors, to get hold of the Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General. I do not say that these documents are as interesting as the last new novel; but they are full of information which will show the taxpayers of the 918 country that their money is being wickedly and wantonly thrown away. the Comptroller and Auditor General tells us, for instance, that advances are continually being made to contractors to which they are not entitled; and he says that the view entertained throughout the Dockyards is that because money has been voted by Parliament, therefore it must be spent, if possible, within the financial year. Well, with such an opinion as that prevailing in the Dockyards, of course, there would be no difficulty in spending twice or three times the amount of money voted. Therefore, it is no wonder that naval experts should come down here and tell us that our armoured ships are generally armoured below the water line, and that most of our ironclads are only tit to be the coffins of those who man them. The Committee appointed to inquire into the matter of contracts said that there is no business-like co-operation between the heads of Departments, and that £15,000 has been paid to a contractor for work which he actually offered to do for £8,080. Then we are told that the contracts are not scanned closely. A witness, Mr. White, when asked why the contracts are not scanned closely, replies that it is, unfortunately, against the Admiralty traditions—that is to say, that it is against the Admiralty traditions that proper caution should be taken even in the purchase of materials and stores for the use of the Navy and the Service generally. All sorts of idiotic follies are committed daily in the management of the Navy. According to the Report on Contracts, sugar and Jamaica rum are sent out to vessels on the West India stations. Flour is actually sent from Deptford Dockyard to Hong Kong, and rice to India; and the only thing requisite to complete the operation is that vessels on foreign stations should occasionally send back coals to Newcastle. This last suggestion would not involve a more absurd and wicked waste of the public stores or of the public money than to send rice from Deptford to India, and rum to Jamaica. Then, of course, when a Vote of Credit is granted, there is a sort of Saturnalia of extravagance. Ships are taken up, and never used afterwards; cables are purchased, and never taken out of the manufacturers' yards; bills are sent in to the Admiralty for all sorts of useless articles. The Report just 919 issued by the Committee appointed to inquire into the Dockyards reveals endless scandals. It is shown therein that there is no proper examination of goods delivered; consequently, we may safely assume that inferior articles are shot into the Dockyards at Bond Street prices, because contractor.?, as a rule, do not spare people who do not examine the consignments of goods they receive from them, and do not look into their proceedings. I will read a short passage from this Report. It says—We were impressed by the fact that large quantities of tools issued from the Tools Store proved to have been of inferior quality; and although their failure had been frequent, it was left to an Admiralty Officer to bring the matter to notice, merely as the result of a casual visit to the Dockyard.Then there are innumerable pensions to all sorts of persons, and extravagant salaries, and a system of occasional reorganization, the result of which is to saddle the country with still more pensions, and to encourage a system under which all sorts of hangers-on, and relations of hangers-on, and men who have been useful to those in Office, or who are likely to be useful to them at election time, receive payment out of the public funds. When complaint is made of this wild and wicked expenditure, the country is told that there is no possibility of saving anything in the Navy. And, when we humble Representatives of the taxpayers desire to express our opinion upon these matters—and I submit that, although we are not experts, we have no difficulty in possessing as much information upon the subjects I have dealt with as those who are exports—we are told that we are not competent to criticize such subjects, and that we ought to sit silent and vote, and so perform our duty to our constituents. "Well, I believe that the public have had about enough of that system, and, whether under a Liberal or a Conservative Government, it will not last much longer. I am very sure that in these days, when the industrial classes are finding it more and more difficult to obtain employment, and when trade is depressed at home, and this country is being invaded from all quarters, while our trade is not allowed opportunities of extending itself into foreign countries in the same proportion; you will find that there is an increasing impatience of the heavy load of taxation which Administration after 920 Administration places on the backs of the people. I believe that the Conservative Party has now got the best opportunity it has over had, or in all probability is over likely to have, of putting an end to this monstrous evil. One of the Leaders of that Party has publicly identified himself with the cause of Retrenchment, and has made sacrifices for it which have never been equaled, either in this age or in any other. I believe the public will look to this Party for the realization of the hopes of Retrenchment, of practical reform, and of a mitigation of taxation which have been held out not only by that Leader of whom I spoke, but by many of us in our addresses to our constituents—hopes of reform and of mitigation of that taxation which now weighs upon all classes with a severity which cannot much longer be endured.
ADMIRAL MAYNE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)
I wish to ask the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) one or two questions with reference to his Statement; and, first of all, with regard to the value of the ships in reserve. The Ajax is said to be worth £552,000, and we are told by Lord Brassey in his manual that the difficulty with regard to her is that she will not steer; but if she is such a valuable vessel, it would be well worth while making her efficient. But no mention is made of repairing or doing anything to her to enable her to go to sea, and if she is not fit for sea, she ought not to stand on this list at the value of £552,000. On page 240 it will be seen that she was laid down at the original cost of £548,000, and that there is an additional sum of £3,157 for completion to the 31st of March. The First Lord also mentioned in his Report and in his speech the question of speed, which we all know is one of the greatest necessities at the present day; but he does not account for the building of the vessels mentioned in his Report which are only to go 13½ knots. I refer to the Rattier and Wasp, Class 6 and 7 in number. If this calculation is made on the old system of trial, which the noble Lord himself has properly denounced, it would mean something like 10 knots in actual sea work. The trials of these vessels are spoken of as having been very satisfactory; but at the same time we are told that the protected cruisers 921 and torpedo boats would give nearly double the speed, and consequently they could not escape from our own vessels by any possibility. Of course, it may be said that to obtain greater power the vessels must be larger. I should think I that the cost of increased size would be well repaid by the increased speed that would be gained. I should like also to ask if it is the fact that upwards of £30,000 are to be expended in putting the Garnet in order? The original cost of the vessel was £102,288 in 1878–9, and I see that the cost for completion to the 31st of March, 1886, is nearly £19,000. I understand that upwards of £30,000 more is about to be expended for the purpose of putting her to rights. The Garnet belongs to a class of vessels of the Gem type—vessels which never steamed above eight knots in their best days, and which probably will never go at a greater speed than six or seven; knots. She is therefore 10 years old, and obsolete, and yet it is proposed to spend upon her now nearly one-third of her original cost. The hon. and gallant Member for Kincardine (Sir George Balfour) appealed to me with reference to the guns of different calibre supplied to Her Majesty's ships. I do not know why the hon. and gallant Member refers to me; but of course I, in common with all practical men, support the view which he takes, that the fewer types of guns—and consequently the fewer different sizes of shot and shell, a vessel has on board—the better. I should think he would know that it is impossible for the Admiralty to take over the supply of guns to the Navy in a very short time, because they have to create a Department for the purpose before they can take the responsibility upon themselves, and they must have time to get their house in order for it. If it is done in too great a hurry it will be done badly. The First Lord has made a remark which strikes me as being very peculiar, and it is, that the £36,000, which the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Devonport (Mr. Puleston) spoke of as £12,000, for armour-piercing projectiles, was brought into the Navy Estimates because the War Office would not supply the money. Surely it is an extraordinary thing that the First Lord of the Admiralty should say he wanted certain guns or ammunition for a 922 particular purpose, and that the War Office should be in a position to reply—"You shall not have them," be cause it practically comes to that—it is a question of cutting down a particular Vote to the smallest amount. I should like to know what the country cares whether this £36,000 comes out of the Admiralty or out of the War Office Estimate! Certainly, it ought to come out of the grant of whichever of the two Offices is responsible for supplying the ammunition. It is right that the First Lord should have included this money in the Naval Estimate, because it was the only way in which he could do that which he believed to be necessary; but it was perfectly wrong that such a necessity should have been laid upon him at all. The First Lord spoke of civil assistants at the Dockyard being conducive to economy and efficiency; and I ask whether it would not be more economical and better for the discipline of the Dockyards that a Superintendent should be appointed for a fixed term of years? Superintendents are now appointed for a year, 18 months, or two years, depending upon their promotion and other contingencies, and by the time they have got to learn what is the work of the Dockyard and become thoroughly acquainted with their duties, they are relieved by another officer, who has again to learn the duties of his position. Then let me mention the sending of ships from one yard to another in an uncompleted state to be completed. I am aware that it may be said that this refers particularly to vessels being sent from the yard in the district which I represent to be completed at another; but my argument will be equally good in the case of a vessel sent from another yard to Pembroke, Portsmouth, or Devonport. It is utterly impossible that a ship can be finished in any other yard as cheaply as she can be where she was laid down. In the first place, the people in the yard to which she is sent have not the same interest in her; on the contrary, their interest would be to run up the expenditure on her to the highest figure. They would take care when they got hold of a vessel like the Nile, for instance, at Portsmouth, that she shall cost as much as the Trafalgar, which was built there, and of necessity much work must be done. Any prac- 923 tical man will admit it is quite impossible that a vessel can be completed as cheap another set of people as by those by whom she was originally built. There have been several questions asked with regard to obtaining designs from the Dockyards. I do not know that the noble Lord has informed us yet where the gentleman is who divulged the designs at Chatham, and whether there is any means of preventing him from now divulging all the secret knowledge he possesses to anyone who will buy it? As far as I understand, he is at liberty to do so at any moment he thinks fit. With reference to the remarks of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stock-port (Mr. Jennings), who just spoken, I think he made a great mistake in drawing an analogy between times of depression and the state of the Navy, and that, if we were to be guided by his suggestion, the very difficulty which he wishes to remove would be augmented. If the money to be spent on the Navy were dependent on whether the country is suffering from depression or otherwise, we should get what the First Lord has said he is most anxious to prevent—namely, fitful, and consequently larger, expenditure. What can the efficiency of the Navy have to do with the question as to whether there is a greater or less amount of depression in the country? The noble Lord has said that we must proceed on some settled plan, and not on the plan of fits and starts such as has been adopted before. The question of the Navy has but one reference to the state of the country, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bow (Captain Colomb) has given us to-night a comparative statement, which shows that the amount expended in this country for the protection of its commercial tonnage is ridiculously small to that of every other country. I think the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Devonport was quite right in his statement as to the necessity which exists for having professional men and experts upon Committees such as that which was appointed to consider the system of purchase and contract in the Navy; and I do not think it was worthy of the hon. Member who accused one of those who sat on that Committee of being bassied because a firm with which he was connected had tendered in respect of one of the vessels. The right 924 hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) has received such a severe handling from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. K. Stanhope) that I do not think it necessary further to refer to his speech than to say that the vessels—the building of which he wished to stop last year—the Nile and the Trafalgar, and the designs of which he now considers should have been the subject of inquiry by a Royal Commission, are those which the had. Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Rood) and others qualified to judge have spoken of as the very best that we have yet laid down.
§ SIR WILLIAM CROSSMAN (Portsmouth)
With regard to the defence of our coaling stations, I have a few remarks to make. We have the Royal Marines and Royal Marine Artillery some of the finest men in Her Majesty's Service, and those men are not employed altogether so advantageously as they might be. I have always been of opinion that the defence of the coaling stations ought to be intrusted to those men. This arrangement would leave at the disposal of the Secretary of State for War a number of men of the Regular Army! who are now distributed all over the | world. The defence of such stations as Hong Kong. Singapore, and Bermuda ought to be in the hands of the Royal Marines and Royal Marine Artillery; and in that way you would save the expense of transporting to those places the land forces who are now discharging the duty there. My hon. and gallant Friend opposite has said very truly that the coaling stations deserve every attention at the hands of the Government. These places are of the utmost importance for the operations of the Navy; and unless they are fortified properly our Fleet will not, in time of war, be able to keep the seas, and therefore I think their garrisons ought to be under the orders of the Admiralty, and not under these of the War Office. There is another matter on which I should like to make a few remarks, and that is the question of submarine mining. I have long been of opinion—and I have had some experience in this matter—that all the work in connection with submarine mining should be done by the Navy, and not by the Army. we require: sailors for the guard-boats employed in the Service, but the urines themselves 925 are in the hands of the Engineers. It is said that the Admiralty requires all the men they can lay their hands upon for the sea-going Fleet. I do not demur to that at all; but there are the Royal Naval Volunteers, who might be so organized that the Navy might take charge of this Department. The guns which are required to defend the submarine mines might also be in the hands of the Royal Marine Artillery. There is another point to which I desire to refer. The Staff sergeants of the Royal Marino Artillery are paid less in pensions than the men of corresponding rank in the Army to the extent of 3rf. a-day. The armoure sergeants also get less than the men in the Line. The alterations I suggest are of a trifling character, and as they are the cause of discontent among a fine body of men, I hope the noble Lord will take the matter into consideration.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD (A LORD of the ADMIRALTY) (Marylebone, E.)
I rise to answer some of the questions which, in the course of this discussion, have been pointedly addressed to me. I may remark, in the first place, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), having began his observations with the expression of a hope that no Party sentiment would be introduced into the discussion, immediately entered upon subjects of a Party character. I think, however, that in the conversation which he had with my noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty he had rather the worst of it. My noble Friend did not intend to say anything of a Party character; his only object was to make to the Committee a clear statement of facts. The right hon. Gentleman first referred to the changes alluded to in that Statement. There are two principal changes connected with the Department. The first of those is the establishment of a regular Intelligence Department, whore the Naval Lords meet together, at specified times, to discuss questions relating to the fighting capabilities of the Navy. That has never been the case before, and the reason why the change has been made is this—if you take 20 of the ablest seamen in the Fleet, and separately ask their opinion on this subject, they would all give a different opinion; but if you bring them together you will get a Suite 926 opinion from them. That is what has now been done. The other change relates to the building of ships. My noble Friend has explained that we wish to build our ships in a business-like way. The men who fight the ships will be able to give their opinion as to what is required in action, and this will be submitted to the constructors and experts whose business it is to produce the machine which is required for fighting. A ship under the new system will not take six or seven years to build; and there will be no alteration unless with the consent of the whole Board, who will have to sign the Order. There will be none of those alterations after a ship is laid down, in respect to engines and armament which will cause her to draw more water, and, in short, turn out something entirely different from the original design. I cannot understand why my right he. Friend opposite has so strongly attacked the Nile and the Trafalgar; and I ask him whether the man who has to fight a ship has not a just right to have an opinion about her? There may be different opinions as to some parts of these ships, but as to their good qualities I do not believe that any seamen differ as to their excellence as fighting ships. I believer them to be good ships and loss likely than others to be damaged in action, and therefore, as I have said, I cannot conceive why my right hon. Friend has taken such a violent dislike to them. My noble Friend has explained that the Impérieuse and Warspite are not what they were intended to be as to draught; but they are valuable ships, and can steam faster than any other of their class in the world. Moreover, they are belted, and are therefore ships of a very formidable type. I deny the argument that has been brought forward by the hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Rood) with regard to the capsizing of unarmoured ships if a hole is knocked through the unarmoured ends. There has been an experiment made in the case of the Hero, which with 700 tons of water in her fore compartment steamed 18 knots without the slightest awkwardness. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bow (Captain Colomb) made some interesting remarks, and with much of what he said I entirely agree. But I cannot quite see the object of his first proposal. He rather found fault with the Marines being 927 made butchers and bakers on board ship. I have always endeavoured to have every man on board made useful. The number of non-combatants carried has always been a great danger in our Fleet. For instance, in ships of the Invincible class, we have as many as 65 per cent of non-combatants; while in the French Navy the number of non-combatants is only 5 per cent. I should like to see Marines more largely employed on board ship, because there is no better man than a Marine, and if you can make him a double-handed man, so to speak, you have the best possible man in him on board ship. Therefore, I do not quite agree with my hon. and gallant Friend on that point. Then we come to the defence of the coaling stations. I have always had a certain idea on that point; but I do not see that it is quite practical at present. I have always held that the Marine Corps should be doubled or treble; and that it should be largely employed at all the outlying stations—at Malta, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, and Singapore, for instance. We should always have in that case fighting men there, accustomed to go in ships, accustomed, in fact, to do anything, and by their employment the expense to the taxpayer would be materially lessened. I do not know that this is exactly the opinion of my noble Friend (Lord George Hamilton) upon the point; however, he does not object to my saying what I think on those matters. Reference has been made to the Intelligence Department. Now, the duty of the Intelligence Department is to find out everything that is necessary for the use of the Fleet in time of war; to examine the plan of campaign. [Laughter.] Oh! a different plan of campaign to the one of which we have heard so much lately; it is a more decided plan, but still a plan of campaign. The Committee of the Intelligence Department has to see to the plan of campaign, and to see that all the trade routes in the world are guarded. In other words, it has to acquire all the information that is necessary that our Fleet in time of war should be possessed of. My noble Friend has recognized the necessity of this, and we have, at this moment, an Intelligence Department working diligently, and acquiring an enormous mass of information that has not been obtained hitherto. I do not blame anybody for that; up to 928 this the Intelligence Department has not been developed on account of—well, I really do not know why the matter has not been taken up before this. We are asked what the present Board of Admiralty have done. Now, I think that our work is very clearly set out in the non-Party Statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty. We acknowledge that things are very bad, and we hope to make them better, and we point out what we have done in this direction. There was a great and wasteful expenditure in the ships in commission going into the Dockyards with large repairs. The present Board have stopped that; they say that ships are supplied with artificers, and they must do their own repairs. That is a very important matter. Then there is the immense question of Dockyard reorganization. My noble Friend has already referred to that, and my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. Forwood) will, no doubt, on go upon it in duo course, he having had a great deal to do with the reform. Then there is the shipbuilding circular, which will save the country an enormous sum of money. Then there is the Intelligence Department; there is no use in having ships and men unless you have somebody to tell them what to do when war is declared. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for one of the Divisions of Hull (Mr. Wilson) made some remarks about what are called armed cruisers. I think the name is rather confusing; the name should be armed auxiliaries, or, better still, runners. England will suffer most in the first three weeks after war is declared; in other words, she will suffer in her food supply, and in a tax upon her enormous floating wealth. Our merchantmen will be attacked, and some of them destroyed, and then up will go the rate of insurance Not only so, but merchants who have ships in port will not send them out; that is another difficulty which has to be thought out by the Intelligence Department. The principal use of these runners will be to go out as soon as war is declared, or directly you think war is inevitable, to one or other focus of our trade in different parts of the world.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
That is a curious question. It depends where the ship is sent to, and the hon. Member will fully realize that fact. Take the Etruria, for instance, she will go much more quickly than the enemy; and she may go to India or to China.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
It depends upon the speed she goes. I believe that at full speed the Etruria carries 10 days' coals; but at a low rate of speed she is able to carry 25 days' coals. I think that explains matters. What we have got to fear is that some intelligent and energetic foreigner will take a small ship, and, getting on a focus of our trade, say, 21 hours before we get there, will possibly sink 20 or more of our ships. These runners are to prevent any accident of this kind occurring to our great commercial interests and floating wealth, when war is first declared. Then they would have to attend the Fleet; they would be like cavalry to an army; they would let the Admiral know what he was to expect, and where the enemy was, and they would be used for a thousand other things that our ordinary men-of-war would not be useful for. They are merely armed to protect themselves against vessels that they would meet of their own class, who would prey on our commerce for the first throe weeks after war was declared. I am quite sure this great commercial country will recognize that the employment of these fast vessels is a first step in the right direction. The hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings) made a very sad speech. According to him, everything is wrong. Where there is a great deal said of a thing it must be more or loss true; but, after all, is it a right thing to sit down and cry because things are wrong? We are all doing our best to put them right. The hon. Member said that the only effect of the re-organization scheme had been to give pensions, and thus to increase the call upon the taxpayers. Now, the statement of my noble Friend is, in my opinion, an honest one. What the present Board of Admiralty wish to do is to put the Navy in the best state they can, and the only fault 930 found in the noble Lord's Statement is that there is an inclination to show that we do not want quite as much money as before. I hope the hon. Member for Stockport will not this time next year be in a position to take any or quite so sad, gloomy, and funereal glance at affairs. The hon. and gallant Admiral the Member for Pembroke (Admiral Mayne) spoke of the Ajax and Agamemnon. It has never been considered that they are handy ships; but the run of these ships has now been filled in, and they may be taken as fairly good vessels; we must take things as they are, and not as they ought to be, and do the best we can with what we have got, always being careful to profit by experience. Reference has been made to the Rattler class of ships. A great many of my friends have said to me—"You had better resign, because the Admiralty are going to build those 'snails' as they are called." Now we have had much discussion in regard to this matter. The hon. and gallant Admiral is quite right when he says their speed is not great; but the conclusion we came to, after thoroughly threshing out the subject, was that if these vessels were required to carry their present tonnage and armament, it was impossible to get more speed out of them; besides it must be remembered that these vessels are peculiarly fitted for the stations to which they are sent. Upon the China, West African, and Pacific Stations, steel-bottomed ships are of no use, you must have copper-bottomed ships there, and as far as the fighting capabilities of those ships goes—they are only 660 tons—there is no doubt they are better than any other gun-vessel or small ship that they are likely to meet. we came unanimously to the conclusion that it was impossible to have heavy vessels of this description that would go fast. It must also be remembered that we are not building many of them. My right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) wanted to know why I had not put my name to the Estimates. Well, it is a very natural inquiry for anybody to make, but I think the Committee will agree with me that it is a great mistake for anyone to put his name to a public document that he has not looked at. What is this document? It is a document which relates to the spending of £13,000,000 sterling of the taxpayers' money. My 931 noble Friend quite agrees with me that I had not had time to look through the Estimates.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
What I asked was, how it was, under the new Regulation, the Estimates were submitted to the noble Lord at the last moment, when he had not time to look into them?
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
The Estimates were submitted to me at the last moment; but I do not blame anyone for that. The real question raised by the right hon. Gentleman is, whether I agree with the policy contained in the Estimates. I agree entirely with that Estimate; if I did not with it do you suppose I would remain at the Admiralty ten minutes longer; but that is a different thing to putting my name to the Estimates. "What I represented to my noble Friend was that I would put my name to those Estimates I was responsible for. It has hitherto been the custom for all the Members of the Board of Admiralty to put their name to the Estimates; but I do not approve of that system. And I have no doubt my noble Friend will see his way to alter the system. When a taxpayer and the House take up the Estimates, and they see the name of every Lord of the Admiralty at the bottom of it, they naturally conclude that the whole of the Lords of the Admiralty are responsible for the whole lot of the Estimates. Now, I object to he responsible for any Estimates for which I am not responsible; I have no objection to put my name to the Votes under my own charge; but I object to the system which requires me to put my name to the whole of the Estimates, when I have not had an opportunity of examining them.
§ SRI JOHN COMMERELL (Southampton)
There is one point which has been omitted by the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) in his able speech, and that is the state of the lieutenants' list. We have now hundreds of lieutenants, the larger proportion of whom have little or no chance of promotion. But, bad as this is for the lieutenants, it will he worse for the Navy in time of war. We have now 662 lieutenants on service in various ships, 38 in the Coastguard, and 81 unemployed. Out of this 38 and 81, I have no hesitation in saying that half of them could hardly be expected 932 in time of war to go on active service. If war broke out to-morrow, and we had to commission all the various ships that we have ready, we should be hardly pressed for lieutenants; and I wish the First Lord of the Admiralty would intimate how, in the case of war, he intends to deal with the lieutenants' list. Then there is another hardship under which the lieutenants of the Navy suffer, and which I desire to bring before the Committee. A boy may now be entered in the Navy by his parents or guardians at the age of 13, and has no possibility of leaving the Service until he is 40. That is an anomaly and inconsistency. We are every day compelling military men who are in the primo of life, and who have learnt their duty, to retire into private life; while in the Navy we keep men from 13 to 10 without allowing them to retire. I should like to mention a particular case to the Committee which will illustrate the hardship which this system inflicts on naval officers. A very eminent officer, who had risen by his ability, put his son into the Navy when 13 years of age. The young man now finds himself, after 17 years' service, fourth lieutenant in one of Her Majesty's ships. At the same age I was a post captain. The young man, however, has no chance of promotion. In fact, his only chance is that of retiring after 10 years' more service on £240 a-year. Well, finding himself almost a pauper, with a wife and children dependent on him, and an income of only £180 a-year, he had an offer of an appointment on shore of £400 a-year, with a prospect of increase to £600 a-year. He asked to be allowed to retire. That request the Admiralty refused. Then he asked to be permitted to resign his commission. That also was refused. Then the young man, unfortunately, did a most unwarrantable thing. he left his ship on foreign service, thus committing an act of insubordination in which I, as an old officer, cannot support him or lend any sanction to. Still. The case is a very hard one, and one that I trust will yet receive the favourable consideration of the Admiralty. But what I complain of specially is that our lieutenants' list is in such a state that men, having been refused retirement, are tempted to commit acts such as this which I have described. I now desire to say something about the 933 Dockyards and the work done in them. My hon. and gallant Friends the Members for Devonport (Captain Price) and Pembroke (Admiral Mayne), being Dockyard Members, of course raised the old cry "There is nothing like leather." But although the work done in the Dockyards is most excellent, and I should be sorry to sec the Dockyards decreased for one moment, still I maintain that there is in these days an actual necessity for vessels to be built by contract in other yards: and as to vessels being built cheaper in Her Majesty's Dockyards than they can be built by contract in the yards of private shipbuilders, I do not believe a word of it. What I particularly wish to urge upon the Admiralty is that private contractors should be employed in time of peace, so that they might have knowledge and experience of our requirements in war time and in a time of emergency. If that is not done, then the contractors will not be able to do what will inevitably be required of them by-and-bye. There are one or two other points to which I should like to make a brief allusion. the Committee knows very well that one of the heaviest items which it has to meet is the cost for repairs. If the details of these charges are examined, the cost, it will be found, is enormous. A vessel which has cost over £40,000 to build has a sum of £40,472 spent upon her for repairs. That expenditure was caused by the removal of the vessel's boilers, and the putting in of new ones. I do not think that in these matters the Admiralty are sufficiently careful. There is nothing so detrimental to a boiler as repairing and patching it here and there. It would be very much better to build a. new vessel rather than renew boilers on obsolete vessels. There is another matter in connection with a vessel's boilers to which I think attention should be called, and that is the extreme steam pressure resorted to when a vessel is about to make her trial on the measured mile, or for a longer testing period. Everyone knows that the pressure put upon the boilers on these trials starts the rivets, strains the plates, and weakens their power of resistance, and it has been shown that while these vessels are to be worked up to 10,000 horsepower, a premium is given to raise the power to 12,500. That is not a safe thing to do, and these risks should not 934 be undertaken for the sake of providing a premium for the contractor and a fictitious speed. After these experiments, the vessel in question cannot be worth much, and the Committee may depend upon it that the system of over-testing both guns and boilers is the greatest mistake in the world.
§ MR. T. SUTHERLAND (Greenock)
I hardly think the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) defended himself very successfully against the complaint made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) with regard to a blot—a small one, no doubt, but still a real one—which seems to exist in his otherwise excellent Statement as to the condition of the Navy. I refer to the comparison which he instituted between the shipbuilding policy of the present Board of Admiralty and the shipbuilding policy of the Board of Admiralty which preceded it. I must say that the comparison he drew was rather unfortunate, because anyone conversant with Admiralty affairs is aware of the fact that if that comparison had been carried some little distance further back it would have been found that the policy of the Conservative Government was of a still more unsatisfactory character. Unquestionably, between 1874 and 1880 the polity of the Conservative Administration was anything but a policy of shipbuilding. It was essentially a repairing policy. Had it not been for the measures taken at the moment when some alarm was felt owing to the danger of a war with Russia, and certain vessels under construction for Foreign Governments were purchased, the shipbuilding transactions of that Administration would have been very small indeed. But, on the other hand, I am not able to give to the Admiralty' under Lord Northbrook the credit which has been claimed for it by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) of having had a continuous and constant policy on the question of shipbuilding, because I must say that I believe, with the hon. and gallant Member for Bow (Captain Colomb), that when the First Lord of the Admiralty or his deputy in this House comes down in the month of March and announces one policy, and then in the following November announces a total reversal of that; policy, such an Administration is hardly deserving of that confidence which we 935 desire at all times to give to these who are responsible for the Admiralty. And, Sir, if proof were wanted—and it hardly seems to be wanted, for the fact appears to be almost universally admitted—that our Naval Force at that time was by no means what it ought to have been, and that our shipbuilding operations were not by any means what they ought to have been, it will be found in this fact, and in this fact alone—that when the Liberal Government came here in 1884 and asked for a Vote of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 sterling to supplement the Navy, we had scarcely a fast cruiser in our whole Fleet. Seeing that the greatness, the wealth, and the power of this country depend upon the security of its Commercial Marine, it is hardly necessary to say what straits we were in at that period. But the great question which we have to consider at the present moment is not the precise character of the Statement laid before us by the First Lord of the Admiralty, but it is whether the Naval Force which we now possess, and which we shall possess when those ships at present in construction are completed, is adequate and sufficient. Now, I must say that the Statement put before us by the Admiralty does not afford me much consolation upon that point, and I will say why. I think that the Admiralty, in their anxiety to afford us information, have been running too much into figures and getting away from ideas. They have laid too much stress upon the details of the system which they propose for meeting the waste of the Navy by means of a system of depreciation. There is not, and there cannot be, a "depreciation fund;" but they have told us about the appropriation of a certain amount, which, if it were to be applied according to commercial principles, would represent a fund, year by year, drawn from profits accruing from Admiralty sources. I think, myself, it is much to be regretted that calculations of this kind should be laid before us, because I doubt very much the soundness and reality of such arrangements. In commercial affairs it is undoubtedly the case, in connection with Shipping Companies, that they put aside out of their profits a certain amount for the renewal of their Fleet. That is a sound principle in connection with the Mercantile Marine; but it must 936 be remembered, in the first place, that they make these profits, which is not the case at the Admiralty. Practically, then, the question which the Admiralty has to consider is not whether they can get the Chancellor of the Exchequer to vote £1,500,000 or£ 1,800,000 in one year for the purposes of the Navy, but they have to consider what is the condition of the Navy at the be-ginning of the year, and what is its condition at the end of the year. How far are our ships up to the level of the present time, and how far are they able to face the power, in the event of war, of foreign nations? Such a question as that is not a matter of a depreciation of 1 per cent or 5 per cent, but it is a radical question as to the sufficiency or insufficiency of the Naval Forces of the country. Therefore, I say it is a mistake to place before us any financial calculations of that kind, which, however interesting they may be to right hon. Gentlemen to examine in their own rooms, are by no means to be depended upon as a guide for the future policy of this country in dealing with questions affecting the Navy. Now, to refer to another point, I may say that I highly approve the earnestness which the present holders of Office at the Admiralty have shown in reforming the procedure existing in that Department. There can be no doubt that there has been great need for reform in several directions, and I am bound to say that the present Conservative Administration and the late Administration have been fortunate in having at the head of the Department not only an able First Lord, but two most able Financial Secretaries, who, from their commercial experience in connection with shipping, have been in a position to lend material assistance to the Government. In reading the Reports which have been laid before us by the First Lord of the Admiralty of the reforming work, it is quite obvious that the reforms there indicated have not been begun a single day too soon. I hold it to be nothing less than a scandal that at this period of the 19th century, and with the knowledge we have of what the construction of war ships should be, that this House should have such revelations made to it with regard to the errors which seem to have been committed with respect to the Navy, and more especially with 937 regard to those belted cruisers—their draught of water, their power of carrying coal, and their power to do that which is the first duty of a cruiser—namely, to cruise. One reads the astounding statement in the Report of the First Lord of the Admiralty that cruisers of 5,000 tons and upwards wore only constructed to carry 440 tons of coal. With that quantity of coal on board, these vessels would only he able to have above water 11 inches of their armour-plating of five feet wide; and a still more remarkable statement is that with 900 tons of coal on board, that being the bunker capacity, the whole armour-plating would be six inches below the water mark. When one reads these statements, we are bound to say that it is almost incredible that such occurrences could have taken place under any Admiralty administration whatever. It is obvious that these vessels must be comparative, if not absolute, failures in the very essential duty which they were constructed to perform, which was to remain at sea a sufficient length of time, having in themselves adequate means of protection against an enemy, and being able to carry sufficient coal to enable them to cruise, for the purpose of protecting other vessels. With regard to another matter, I mean the contracts for ships and machinery, I do most sincerely hope that the measures which the Admiralty have adopted, and which they intend to carry into practice, will be successful in providing against such blunders as those to which I have referred and which one reads of in these Reports; but I must say that I think what is required at the Admiralty is not merely what the noble Lord mentioned, and what is referred to in his Memorandum—namely, that papers should be signed by this officer or that, and that they should guarantee by their signature their approval of this measure and that matter. What is required at the Admiralty is that there should be more of the spirit and less of the letter, and that there shall be more efficient means devised by which all these Heads of Departments, Lords of the Admiralty, and Directors of Departments, shall be made to cooperate together, not on paper, but in reality. Now, in regard to the reforms to which I have referred, I must say I am very much interested—I might almost 938 say amazed—in reading the Report of that Committee over which my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Forwood) presided in reference to the purchase of stores for the Navy. I refer more particularly to the contract for machinery for the Renown and Sanspareil, which occupied so much of the attention of the Committee. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford has said that Lord Northbrook had taken upon himself the whole responsibility in connection with that contract, and I was glad to hear that that was the case; because, while the Report of the Committee appeared to lay the blame upon this system and upon that individual, and notably upon the constructors and engineers connected with the Admiralty, I considered the whole blame rested immediately, if it rested anywhere, with the Lords of the Admiralty themselves. Therefore, I was glad to hear that Lord Northbrook was willing to take the whole responsibility in connection with that transaction upon himself. Now, in what light did that transaction strike me, as a man who has a good deal to do with matters of a some what similar kind? Well, I may say the first light in which it struck me was this—namely, that the firm of engineers who obtained that contract (Messrs. Humphreys and Tennant) knew exactly the length of the Admiralty's foot, and knew exactly how to pitch an offer which would meet with approval at the hands of those who had influence to cause its acceptance to be made. Putting aside this peculiar feature of the case, I am not prepared to say that Lord Northbrook was wrong in accepting that particular proposal, because it is perfectly clear that if one contractor offers to give machinery to effect a speed of something like half a knot more in an iron-clad vessel than was sought for or expected, or if one contractor could give half a knot more than another, I should say the First Lord of the Admiralty might make a great mistake if he did not accept that offer—unless he were justified in refusing it by those who understood affairs of that kind, who gave him advice and showed him that great injustice would, in all probability, be done to other tenderers who were tendering in a more liberal and bonâ fide manner. I must say that I think that in this particular case very 939 great injustices was done to the firm of which the hon. Member for Jarrow (Sir diaries Palmer) is the head, inasmuch as their tender was some £17,000 or £18,000 lower than that of Messrs. Humphreys and Tennant; and he was not, as he might have been, asked whether he could not, by some alteration of the pitch of screw, or by other means, develop the same power as the other engineers professed to be able to do. But, Sir, with regard to these reforms, I am not altogether able to adopt the idea which appears to be entertained by the Committee over which the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty presided, that the way to prevent mistakes of this kind occurring in future is to entrust the duty of dealing with matters of this kind to one Department of the Admiralty rather than to another. For my own part, I think that the Director of Contracts has quite sufficient to do to attend to everything relating to the Department under his charge, and I am by no means able to endorse the idea that the mere transference of the shipbuilding and engineering contracts to that Department will be any remedy whatever, or any advantage, in Admiralty business. What is required is this—that these different Departments, Naval and Civil—the contractors department and the military department within the Admiralty—should be controlled, I care not by whom, but shall be so controlled, and so made to work together, that errors like those we have heard of to-night cannot possibly occur. I must say, in reference to the observations of the hon. and gallant Member for Bow (Captain Colomb), that I shall probably shock him, and some other hon. and gallant Gentlemen, by stating that what I think the Admiralty is most deficient in is continuous civil administration. I do not, in saving that, wish for one moment to deny the necessity of having military and naval men at the head of all proper Departments at the Admiralty. Give them higher rank if you like—[Admiral FIELD: We do not want that.]—call them something better than Lords of the Admiralty if you like—give them higher pay, if you choose—but what you want in order to promote a healthy and efficient state of affairs at the Admiralty is continuous civil administration, which you have not at present. I said I was sure I should 940 shock the feelings of some of my hon. and gallant Friends, and no doubt I have done so; but, at any rate, such is my opinion. These Gentlemen who sit on the Government Bench are, no doubt, able business men, but they have many other duties to discharge besides the duties with which they are entrusted within their Office. They change Office, perhaps, on an average, once in six months. I am not sure whether it, will be a full six months before we have a change of Government again. At any rate, these changes recur with remarkable frequency, and yet it is to the fleeting influence of these Gentlemen that we look for a sound financial state of affairs and a sound financial state of affairs is what we look to as the basis of all efficiency in the Navy or anywhere else. I say that the Admiralty is in that respect singularly and unfortunately deficient. And, after all what is the Admiralty? It is a great fighting machine. It is impossible to have a better Representative than the noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford) connected with it as a fighting machine; but it is also a great manufacturing and administrative machine. Do you mean me to tell me that if you had acquired a great administrative machine, such as, for example, the London and North-Western Railway, you would get the management you required for its success without entrusting it to permanent civil financial control? I am aware of the difficulties that there are in connection with this matter, and which probably there always will be in connection with it; but that is the conviction which has pressed upon me, and I say that, until you insure a permanent Civil administration of the Navy, in concert with practical and naval administrations, which is even more important, you will never have that adequate management which is necessary to prevent great mistakes, such as those we have had to deplore. There are only two other things that I will mention in connection with the Statement of the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty. The first is one which I am exceedingly glad to see—namely, an observation he made with regard to encouraging officers of the Naval Re-serve to join Her Majesty's ships when cruising. I am glad to see that, in order to succeed in that, he has been 941 good enough to arrange that officers of the Naval Reserve, who merely rank as sub-lieutenants, should mess with lieutenants on board ship; and if he had only added to that that he would be prepared to pay these officers, to some extent, for what they may lose by joining Her Majesty's Service for a year or so, I am quite certain—speaking not only for myself, but for many others—that the large Mail Steam Companies with which we are connected would only be too happy to co-operate with the Navy in strengthening and enlarging the body of men to he at the command of the Admiralty in the event of war. The next matter I should like to say a word upon is of a somewhat personal character, and I mention it because I should, perhaps, be misunderstood if I were to pass it over. I refer to one part of the noble Lord's Statement which he speaks of the Cunard steamer Oregon. That vessel is mentioned as the only ship that was armed as a cruiser during the late Russian scare. I beg to say that two steamers belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company were armed, not in Liverpool and not in London, but one was armed at Sydney, and one was armed at China—a very much more important feat than arming a vessel in Liverpool. I beg to say that these ships were practising their officers and men and guns off Hong Kong and Sydney at the time the Oregon was taking on board its armament; and I also beg to say that the crews and officers of these ships—every one of them—volunteered for Her Majesty's Service. In justice to the service that is under the flag of that Company, I think I was entitled to mention these circumstances in correction of, or in amplification of, the remarks in the noble Lord's Statement. Sir, I have only to add that, while I endorse heartily the views which have been expressed so abundantly on this side of the House—views of sympathy and respect for the Statement made by the noble Lord—I do hope and trust that we shall not, in dealing with the Navy in future, rely upon any paper figures or paper depreciation, but that the Admiralty, whether it be Liberal or Conservative, or Liberal Unionist, will take stock of its affairs in quite a different fashion to what it has sometimes done in the past, and will 942 maintain the Navy as the Navy of this country ought to be maintained.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I would ask the permission of the House to interpose for one moment to express a hope, which I think the Committee will not feel to be an unreasonable one, that the observations which may yet have to be made on this Tote will be condensed as much as possible by hon. Gentlemen who may wish to speak. We are now arriving at the time when it is only reasonable that the Vote on Account for Civil Services should be taken in order to enable those hon. Members who wish to express opinions upon the subject of that Vote to make their remarks. The Vote on Account must be taken to-night; therefore, it would only be reasonable to allow some time for its discussion.
§ CAPTAIN PRICE (Devonport)
I do not intend to occupy much of the time of the Committee, not more than five minutes; but, as I represent a Dockyard constituency, I should like to be allowed to say just half-a-dozen words. The hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. T. Sutherland), who has just sat down, commenced his speech with some comparisons between the naval policies of different Administrations. He did not carry that argument to excess, and I do not intend to find any fault with him about it; but he stated that the Naval policy of the Conservative Government of 1874 was a policy of repairing. I just wish to remind the Committee that the reason of their policy being one of repairing was, as was stated at that time, that there wore only 14 iron-clads which wore fit for the sea service of the country. That, I think, is a sufficient answer to the statement, or rather the reproach which the hon. Gentleman seemed to cast upon the Conservative Government of having followed a repairing policy during those years. My hon. and gallant Friend who sits in the Gangway below me made some remarks about us Dockyard Members wishing to have more ships built in the Royal Dockyards. Well, I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman rather has us at a disadvantage. If we speak from interested motives, I would remind him, at all events, of this, that those hon. Members who represent Dockyard consti- 943 tuencies may be counted, if not on the fingers on one hand, at all events on those of two hands. Those who take the opposite view, or what I may term the contract view, are very numerous indeed in this House. There are a large number of shipbuilders in this House, and a larger body of hon. Members who represent constituencies whore these "fat contracts," as they have been termed, are given out. And that is not all—when the Government appointed the Committee to inquire into the question, so that the House of Commons might form an opinion as to which is really the most effectual and most economical way of building ships—whether in private yards or in public yards—what was the sort of Committee appointed? We had one appointed in 1882, and on that Committee every Member, with one exception, was the Representative of a constituency in which private shipbuilders had yards, or was himself a shipbuilder. There never was such a Committee appointed. If the Admiralty wanted to get at the rights of these cases, and were to appoint a Committee composed of the Representatives of the Dockyard constituencies, the House would say that it was eminently unfair and absurd. But the late Government went to the other extreme, and appointed a Committee almost, if not entirely, composed of private Dockyard Representatives. The Secretary to the Admiralty himself is closely allied with the shipbuilding interest, and it is impossible that we can arrive at a fair comparison of the cost of ships built in the Royal Dockyards and private yards under the circumstances. I remind the Committee that we are at the present moment building ships costing millions of money at seaport towns which are utterly unprotected, and which in the event of a naval war might be destroyed by the enemy's gunboats in 24 hours. I wish to renew the appeal which I made the other night in favour of granting commissions to our seamen. I rose at a very unfortunate time on that occasion; it was half-past 1, the House was then very thin, and I believe my noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty was unprepared with an answer on the subject, because the only answer he made was that there was some difficulty with regard to half-pay. Now there is no 944 such difficulty at all, and I am sure that my noble Friend, if he looked into this matter, must have seen that he had made a mistake. If a warrant officer is given a commission, and he reverts to half-pay, what is that half-pay? Why, there is no fixed figure at all; there is no reason whatever why the same chance which is given to the warrant officer should not be given sometimes to the chief boatswains and chief gunners. I hope the noble Lord will show a little more interest in this subject, and I hope hon. Members will back me up in what I say. First of all the chief gunners and boatswains ask that, when they retire from the Service, they shall be given retiring rank as lieutenants. That will not cost one penny to the taxpayer, and there is no difficulty with regard to it, either social, technical, or professional. They also ask that a certain number of commissions should be given on the active list to warrant officers. There is nothing new in that; they are already entitled to it by the Order in Council, passed in 1856, whereby it was laid down that these commissions should be given from time to time to deserving men. That Order, however, has been made a dead letter from the time it was issued to the present day, and no warrant officer has since then received a commission. Before that time, when I entered the Service, which was in 1855, there were officers in high positions who had risen from before the mast; but there is nothing like that now in the Navy. In the Army there are many officers who have risen from the ranks, but in the Navy it is utterly impossible, owing to the policy of the Admiralty, that any seaman should rise from the ranks to be a commissioned officer. I apologize for having made these few remarks in addition to what I said the other night, and I trust that my noble Friend will be able to give me a more satisfactory answer than he did on that occasion.
§ MR. R. W. DUFF (Banffshire)
I have only a few remarks to make with regard to the observations which have fallen from the hon. Member for Devonport (Captain Price). As pointed out by the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty, there are very considerable difficulties in the way of giving commissions to warrant officers. I believe that the Admiralty have been very 945 anxious to do something in this direction; but, as was stated by the First Lord the other night, the chief difficulty in the way is with regard to the warrant officers' education. I do not suppose my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Price) would say that a warrant officer should receive the rank of lieutenant unless, to a certain extent, he was qualified in this respect and able to navigate a ship. If the warrant officers were able to pass an examination, then, I believe, the main difficulty in the way of this would be removed. I may mention that, from what I saw at the Admiralty, I believe a stop has been taken in the right direction. When I went down to the school at Greenwich, I found that they did not teach navigation; I pointed that out, and I believe steps were taken, and it was arranged that navigation should, in the future, be taught to the boys attending the school. My opinion is that if these men passed an examination, the Admiralty would be glad to apply to them the same system which obtains in the Army. The noble Lord, in his remarks to-night, referred to something which fell from my right hon. Friend the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) with regard to Admiralty administration. I do not think it is quite fair to my right hon. Friend to say that he wanted to place the Board of Admiralty on the same footing as the Treasury, and I do not think that this was the intention of my right hon. Friend. Although I do not approve of all that was done, I feel bound to say that the general organization of the Board of Admiralty was very much improved by my right hon. Friend. I think the old system of sitting for five or six hours over any small question that came before them was a very absurd one; but my experience was that the work was very competently done. We had Minutes, and knew everything that was going on in the Department. I do not think it was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to usurp the position of First Lord and take out of his hands the work which properly belonged to him. I am sorry to return to the statement which I made the other day—that the First Lord has introduced some things of a Party character into his Statement. My noble Friend the Member for East Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford) said the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty 946 had rather reversed the argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lafevre); but I think that a reference to the figures will show that that is not the case. We have been told that the Navy was let down very much between 1881 and 1885, and the hon. Member who made this statement describes the policy of Lord Northbrook as one of dawdle. If that is so, then the policy which preceded it was one of stagnation. The hon. Gentleman gives us credit for spending £1,800,000 on shipbuilding; but if I take the figures for the last three years of the Beaconsfield Government which preceded Lord Northbrook's, I find only £1,500,000, £1,388,000, and £1,426,000 expended under the Shipbuilding Vote. If the whole Vote 6 and 10 and gun mountings are taken, it will be found that the average expenditure of Lord Northbrook's Board from 1881 to 1884 was £448,000 in excess of that of the previous Government. Therefore, I think that when the First Lord began his period of comparison with 1881, it is difficult to believe that the noble Lord is not giving a Party complexion to this matter. Reference has been made to the calculation as to depreciation which has been arrived at by the First Lord, and also by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty. They do not quite coincide; I do not, however, want to lay great stress upon that point. But I myself made a calculation on a somewhat different basis from that of the noble Lord and the Secretary to the Admiralty. I take the calculation on the number of vessels condemned between this time and last year; what the cost was originally; and what was the cost of repairs. I remember that the noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone requested us to get rid of and blow up a great number of ships. I find that the cost to the country through depreciation during the year of the vessels actually condemned was £1,863,000. But if we take the vessels which my noble Friend wanted to got rid of the depreciation would amount to £2,100,000.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
What I wanted was to get rid of the vessels which came home from abroad—that is to say, that they should not be repaired when they came home. There are at this moment 32 ships at ports on 947 foreign stations which are unfit for repair.
§ MR. R. W. DUFF
I give the noble Lord credit for that; but I am going to speak of eight composite vessels included in the list of the noble Lord. It is certainly very unsatisfactory that vessels which were only built in 1880 and 1881, and which have been only throe years at sea, should now be condemned; and if these Navy Estimates are referred to a Committee of this House, I trust there will be a searching investigation into the character of these vessels, and how it comes that vessels only eight years old, and only throe years at sea, are now condemned. There is one point which I do not think has been referred to, but which the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty refers to in his Statement. It is with regard to our vessels on foreign stations. I gather from his Memorandum that we are going to adopt a new policy—that we are not going to have such a large squadron on foreign stations. I suppose this decision was arrived at after consultation with the Colonial and Foreign Offices, because there was a Committee representing the Foreign and Colonial Offices, and they came to the conclusion that we wanted 83 vessels and 15 gunboats on foreign stations, and last year we had 99. I have no doubt many of these vessels were of very little use indeed; anyone who has spent any time on a foreign station, as I have done, knows that to foreign stations we send the most disgraceful old tubs that over carried a flag; and even third-rate Powers, such as South American Re-publics, have more powerful men-of-war than we possess in those waters. I am glad to think this system is to be stopped; it is better to have fewer ships, and have them efficient, than to have many inefficient ones. The policy which puts an end to the present system I shall be very glad to support. Some remarks were made by the hon. Member for West Hull (Mr. C. H. Wilson) in regard to the employment of auxiliary vessels; I quite approve of the general policy of the Admiralty in taking up those Cunard and other vessels. My noble Friend the Member for East Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford) explained very properly the use of these vessels, and, therefore, I shall not detain the Committee longer on this 948 point. I do not profess to have sufficient knowledge to express any opinion as to whether the Admiralty have made a good or a bad bargain on the terms in which these vessels are engaged; that is a point upon which the hon. Member for West Hull and the hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. T. Sutherland) are better able to give an opinion than I am; but the policy of securing the fastest vessels we can get, and having such vessels ready at a moment's notice, is, I believe, an economical one, and a sound one so far as the country is concerned. Now, my noble Friend the Member for East Marylebone referred to the Intelligence Department. I think that the present Board of Admiralty are quite right in increasing that Department, and I give my noble Friend every credit for having developed the Department. But in that celebrated Memorandum which found its way into The Pall Mall Gazette I think the noble Lord went a little too far when he said that we really had no pro vision for war at the Admiralty, or words to that effect. That is rather strong language to use, and I am sure he will not endeavour to maintain it when he considers that it really amounts to a reflection upon the noble Lord sitting beside him (Lord George Hamilton), who has, previously to the present, occupied the position of First Lord of the Admiralty. There are at the Admiralty certain private and confidential documents which, if one could refer to them, would clearly show that provision is made for time of war. I cannot give the noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone credit altogether for having created the Intelligence Department, be-cause to do that would be to east a grave reflection not only upon the First Lords, but upon the Naval Lords. When I was at the Admiralty my Colleague (Lord John Flay) took a great deal of trouble to work up the Intelligence Department; and, therefore, that Department is not altogether a new institution. Now, my noble Friend the Member for Marylebone said there was no dock in the Pacific. I see that £55,000 is taken for such a dock at Esquimalt in this year's Estimate, and I believe the dock is complete. The other night I ventured to trouble the House—I am afraid at great length—with the question of education of naval officers. I am not going to refer to that now, ex- 949 cept to say that when the First Lord of the Admiralty replied the other night he had to deal with a multiplicity of subjects, and was unable to give as much time as he would have liked to this subject. It is a subject which does occupy a good deal of thought in the Navy. There are a variety of opinions entertained upon it; some take the view I do, and I know many who do not. It is a matter in which the Navy are very much interested; and I had hoped that if the First Lord of the Admiralty did not give his view upon it, his Colleague and my Successor, the hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division of Sheffield (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett), might possibly have given his view upon this question. I hope that on some future occasion the Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett)—naval education coming, as I believe, in his Department—will be able to enlighten the House upon the subject. I do not think there is any other matter on which I need detain the Committee, and I can only say that I am sorry that the duty of making these few criticisms should have fallen upon me, as the only Representative of the late Board of Admiralty. The criticisms I have addressed to the Committee have been made in no unfriendly spirit, and I shall be very happy to give the Admiralty my cordial support in carrying out this programme.
§ MR. DE LISLE (Leicestershire, Mid)
In the last paragraph of his Memorandum, the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) describes the stops he proposes to take for the utilization of the auxiliary resources of the country. With the policy which is involved in the noble Lord's proposal I heartily concur. Upon the question of our defences, perhaps the Committee will allow me to refer to the defence of our coaling stations. Now, in the Memorandum which the Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) circulated in relation to the Army Estimates, the right hon. Gentleman remarks that more than one Colony has fulfilled its engagements with regard to defences, and that we are bound in honour to find the necessary funds to enable us to fulfil our part of the engagement. Now what I want to point out is, that it is hopeless to expect our Colonies to enter into engagements with this country, as proposed in the last 950 paragraph of the noble Lord's (Lord George Hamilton) Memorandum, if we are not prepared to fulfil our solemn obligations. The present is a most opportune time to make a few remarks upon this question, because, in the noble Lord's Memorandum, there is no reference made to our coaling stations under the heading of "Utilization of Auxiliary Resources." The most important auxiliary resources which the Navy ought to be able to look to in case of war are the resources which our coaling stations afford. Our coaling stations make good harbours of refuge, but unless they are put in an adequate condition of defence they will be a source of danger to us instead of support. Under the heading "Coaling Stations," the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, in his Memorandum, says—It is well known to everyone who has looked into the subject that more than one station of primary importance still remains un-defended.This, surely, is a most unhappy condition of affairs. We have involved our Colonies in serious expenditure on the strength of our word, and we are in honour bound to fulfil our part of the contract. I ask what encouragement is there for Australia or any other Colony to fit out a squadron, when they know that, owing to changes of Government and other causes, the word of Parliament is not worth anything? I should like to get from the Government a definite pledge that our obligations towards the Colonies shall be fulfilled. I think I can see a way in which this can be easily done—at least, so far as Singapore is concerned. In page 22 of the noble Lord's Memorandum, it is admitted that our commerce is not protected as adequately as that of other nations, but that by utilizing our merchant vessels we can, in case of war, quickly recruit our strength. Now I have a Question on the Paper to-night as to whether the Government can see their way to give an adequate and localized naval force for the defence of Singapore, as they have no guns to send there? What I want to know is, whether the Government will, in order to fulfil its definite pledge to the Colony of Singapore, obtain at once from one of our Ship-building Companies an armed vessel for the defence of Singapore? It 951 is unnecessary for me to dilate upon the necessity of defending Singapore, especially when we consider the importance of Singapore as a place of defence for our enormous trade. The total value of trade at that port during the year exceeds £200,000,000 sterling; and during the American Civil War, within three days of its being known that the Alabama had rounded the Cape, 17,000 tons of shipping, all American, were seeking refuge in this harbour of refuge. I do, therefore, most earnestly ask the Committee to give these matters their most urgent consideration.
§ MR. MASON (Lanark, Mid)
I shall not detain the Committee more than a few minutes; but I have an appeal, as a Representative of the taxpayers of the country, to make to the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty. I feel it necessary to make a few remarks upon the important Statement submitted to us by the Admiralty on the present occasion. I congratulate the Government upon having supplied the House with such a valuable Statement to take the place of the Statement previously made in the House upon the Navy Estimates. It is a very important matter that we should have such a Statement put before us, enabling us to thoroughly understand the Estimates before we come to vote the money. This Statement contains a capital account, showing what we really possess in the way of value of ships. It is very right and proper that this Capital account should be opened; but it is also very important for us to know upon what principle this Capital account is opened. I am rather disposed to think that this Statement is open to criticism, so far as figures are concerned, and I shall point out one or two things upon which we ought to receive additional information. To begin with—the First Lord of the Admiralty takes credit for reducing the Estimates by £793,300, compared with the expenditure of the preceding year, and he says—A reduction of expenditure generally implies a decrease of the effective strength of the service with which it is connected. We are fortunate enough to be able to reverse this rule in the present instance.And he adds—These satisfactory results have been attained partly by policy, partly by improved methods of administration; but a careful review of the expenditure of the past six years is necessary in order that the significance of our present posi- 952 tion, and the causes at work in establishing it, may be understood by Parliament and the country.What is that policy, and what are these improved methods of administration? There is not a very full statement made as to what these are; but, on page 5, the statement is volunteered that—In 1885, under popular pressure, the Government of that day admitted the insufficiency of its previous arrangements, and, with the assent of all Parties in the State, Lord North-brook, the then First Lord of the Admiralty, proposed to expend, in addition to the ordinary shipbuilding programme, the sum of £3,100,000 in the building of ships by contract in private yards. An additional sum of £1,600,000 for guns was also proposed to be added to the Ordnance Votes of the Navy, which are included in the annual Estimates of expenditure of the War Office. The Chancellor of the Exchequer estimated that this outlay would be spread over five years, ending March 31,1890, and form a portion of the expenditure of the country for that period. The work has been executed with such rapidity, that nearly the whole of this expenditure has fallen upon three, instead of five, years.That seems to explain pretty much the cause of the decrease of the Estimates this year. It has been provided for by a former Government, and yet the present Government take credit for the reduction of £793,000. It must be remembered, however, that by mixing up Army and Navy Estimates we have the one nearly balancing the other, or, in other words, we have pretty much the same sums to be voted this year that we voted for the Army and Navy last year. I do not think this is a satisfactory state of things to the taxpayer. It is monstrous that we should be called upon to vote these enormous Estimates for the Army and Navy. So much for the Admiralty taking credit for a condition of things which they tell us they have improved. I do not think they have effected the improvement they de-sire to show. We are told what they are going to do in the way of laying down new ships, and I should like to know whether the First Lord of the Admiralty intends to build these new ships by contract or in the Royal Dockyards? I believe that work can be done by contract cheaper and better than it is done in the Royal Dockyards. [Cries of ''No, no!"] I say yes. I am perfectly satisfied that if the First Lord of the Admiralty were to state the result of his experience candidly to-night, he would say that the value which the country has 953 got from contract work has been infinitely better than their work in the Royal Dockyards. I am sure it would be satisfactory to the country to know that we are going to build some of these 13 ships by contract rather than in the Royal Dockyards. It seems to me that this Statement is not at all satisfactory with regard to what it tolls us in regard to the value of the Fleet we have. An Estimate is given us here of the value of the Fleet, and of the estimated annual expenditure necessary for replacement. I confess I have looked into this Estimate; but I am totally at a loss to understand how the depreciation has been calculated. I should be obliged if the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty, or some other Member of the Government, will explain the figures which are given on page 14. The First Lord of the Admiralty makes out an Estimate for the depreciation and replacement of the Navy. For the first class of ships, or for armour-protected and partially-protected iron or steel vessels, he takes 22 years from date of completion, and 4 per cent. It seems to me that 22 years at 4 per cent give only 88 per cent. Then second, or of corvettes, sloops, torpedo-cruisers, gun vessels, gunboats, troopships, and other vessels, he takes 15 years, at 6 per cent, which is 90 per cent. Then, for torpedo-boats, steam launches, &c, he estimates 11 years at 9 per cent—namely, 99 per cent. For the fourth class—small vessels, tugs, and yard-craft—he estimates 18 years and 5 per cent. which gives 90 per cent; and, for the fifth class of vessels, he takes 22 years at 4 per cent—namely, 88 per cent in the whole. I shall be glad if the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty will explain these figures a little more closely, and show how vessels will be replaced at such a depreciation as that now given. Then, with regard to Dockyard administration, which I cannot help thinking is in a most unsatisfactory condition, I take the Statement simply as it stands. He says—In the meantime, I have given directions that no vacancies in the Admiralty and Dockyard clerical staffs are to be filled, us there is reason to believe both are redundant.Why, everyone has been saying that such has been the case for years, and now here we have got a confession of it. I trust a practical effect will be given by 954 the reduction of the redundant members of these staffs, and that the taxpayers of the country will not be called upon to pay for a staff that is not necessary. The taxpayers of the country are at present very heavily taxed. The income of the country is not what it was, and there are a great many hard-working men in this country who find it difficult enough to maintain themselves and families. Now, Sir, there is just one other point I wish to direct attention to, and that is the transference of the supply of naval armaments from the Army to the Navy itself. I do not think that that is a matter which should be so difficult as is indicated in this Memorandum. The noble Lord says—"To place one Government Department towards another in the relation of purchaser and manufacturer is no easy matter." I can see no difficulty in the matter at all. It is a matter of ordinary common-sense business, and I cannot understand why it should not be arranged without the slightest difficulty. At present we have these monstrous Estimates of £31,000.000 sterling for the Army and Navy mixed up in a way that no intelligent man can ascertain how the money is spent. Now, I quite endorse the view of right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Bench in regard to the utilization of the auxiliary resources of the country. I think that is one of the best things this Government has brought before us. The swift steamers which are being built for the Merchant Service of the country will prove a valuable auxiliary, and I do not sympathize with the criticisms passed from this side of the House against the proposal of the Government in this respect. After the experience of the Alabama in connection with the American War, the utilization of the auxiliary resources of the country is a wise step in the right direction; and I believe it will prove a most economical step. Only one other remark in conclusion. I congratulate the Government upon their proposal to appoint a Committee for the examination of the Army and Navy Estimates. I ventured to raise this question of sending the Army and Navy Estimates to a Committee for investigation three days after I entered Parliament, rather more than a year ago. I did not expect that the question would have borne fruit so soon; but I am glad to think that the Government have taken up the idea, 955 and that we are to have such a Committee as I suggested. I believe we shall have some light thrown upon the expenditure by the Committee upon the Army and Navy, and that we shall be able to examine the Estimates with some idea of how the enormous sums of money are really spent, and that we shall be able, by-and-bye, to cut down the Estimates, and really to get value for our money, which I do not believe we at present got. I trust the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty will be able to see his way to give us the explanations I have asked at his hands.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
The Committee will remember that on the last occasion we discussed these Estimates an understanding was arrived at that, on this Vote, a general discussion should be taken. There is a Vote on Account to be taken to-night, and as we have spent now some six hours in this discussion I think the Committee will allow the Vote to be taken. I understand there are a certain number of Gentlemen who wish to raise a discussion on the Vote on Account; and, therefore, it is quite clear that the longer the discussion on this Vote occupies, the longer the consideration of the Vote on Account will be delayed.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
The noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty will remember that on the last occasion he acceded to my request that I should have some opportunity of bringing certain matters relating to the Navy before the Committee. We have been promised an evening to discuss general matters upon this Vote. Up to this the remarks have been entirely general, and it seems extremely hard that several of us—who have got matters of importance to bring before the Committee—should now be asked to give up the right which we have been accorded by the Government. If I and others waive the right to bring matters relating to the Navy forward this evening, will the noble Lord undertake that we shall have an opportunity of doing so on some future and near occasion?
§ ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
I would make the same appeal to the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton). I have a good deal to say on various matters; but, after what has 956 fallen from the First Lord of the Treasury and the First Lord of the Admiralty, I am too loyal a supporter of the Government to obtrude my views on them to-night. But I claim the right to speak on the matters I feel a great interest in on some future occasion. It is a monstrous thing that we should be muzzled—that these important naval matters, which only come under consideration once a year, should be before us without naval men having an opportunity of stating here, on the floor of this House, what our views are. Whilst listening to observations on one side and the other, I have been seriously provoked by some things that have been said, and I wish to have an opportunity to reply.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I should like to know why it is absolutely necessary for us to give a Vote on Account to-night? Right hon. Gentlemen say it is absolutely necessary. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes; but why is it absolutely necessary? I can understand that it may be absolutely necessary to obtain the Vote by the 31st March; but this is the 21st. No doubt it is necessary that the first Votes in the Army and Navy Estimates—the Votes for men and money—should be given before the 31st March, so that they may be included in the Appropriation Bill that will be brought in and passed by the end of the financial year; but I ask for information as to whether it is really necessary, and, if so, why, that the Vote on Account for 1887–8 should be included in that Bill? Why it cannot be included in another Bill, brought in at some later period of the Session, I cannot understand; and I therefore hope someone in authority will rise and endeavour to remove our doubts upon this matter.
§ MR. JOICEY (Durham. Chester-le-Street)
I desire to add any pressure it may be in my power to exercise on the Government to that of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who have spoken on this side of the House. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Devon a short time ago, stated that the whole of this discussion had taken place between naval Gentlemen and Gentlemen interested in shipbuilding. As I represent a constituency which does not participate in any shipbuilding interest, and as I am not a naval man, I think I have a right to say a word or two on the subject of these Estimates, and have a right to ask that 957 an opportunity shall be afforded me to do so.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
the noble Lord tells us that the Committee is anxious to proceed with the Civil Service Estimates. ["No, no!"] Well, that is what I am told. It is said that that is the reason why we are to vote this money for the Navy without adequate discussion. There are a great many Members of the Committee who are anxious to discuss the Navy Estimates. I, myself, ventured a few evenings ago, when the Speaker was in the Chair, to make some observations as to the Navy Estimates; but I am afraid I was not able to impress the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) with that sense of the importance of the matter which weighed on my mind. At any rate, he did not take notice of my observations. Well, I am anxious to know whether the Committee attach any importance to them? I endorse what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the late Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Henry H, Fowler), as to the complete and radical difference that there is between this Vote on Account of the Civil Service Estimates, and the Supplementary Estimates for the Army and Navy Services, which must, of course, be included in the Appropriation Account that deals with the present financial year. But the Estimates we are asked to proceed to do not relate to this financial year at all, but to the financial year upon which we have not yet entered. They may be included in a subsequent Appropriation Bill, and in that way all the requirements of the law may be completely met. Those representations of the noble Lord as to the absolute necessity of taking a Vote on Account for the Civil Service Estimates is altogether without real foundation. It is a monstrous thing that having submitted to curtailment of debate on going into Committee on the Navy Estimates, on the complete understanding that we should have an exhaustive discussion of the whole Estimates, on the first Vote taken this night the Government should attempt again to curtail debate in order to proceed to another branch of financial business.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension as to the necessity of taking this Vote on Account to-night. I assure him that it 958 is absolutely necessary, in order to comply with the law, that the Vote on Account of Civil Services Estimates should be taken to-night. ["No, no!"] It must be taken before the commencement of the coming year. It has always been taken with those Votes which are practically Votes on Account for the Army and Navy. The hon. Gentleman is aware that not a single farthing can be issued for the service of the country, unless the money has been provided under a Ways and Moans Bill. That Bill will be introduced the moment the Vote is taken, and we have obtained money in Ways and Means for the Army and Navy. No Civil Servants will be able to receive their salaries on 1st April unless they are provided in a Bill, set up as a Ways and Means Bill. I will tell the Committee how this Vote on Account has been taken for the last 7 years. In 1881 it was taken on the 16th March, in 1882 it was taken on the 24th March—[Mr. H. H. FOWLER: The 24th? This is only the 21st.] There was some specific reason for the Vote being taken on the 24th March in 1882. I cannot tell precisely what it was. In 1883 the Vote was taken on the 15th March, in 1884 on the 20th March, in 1885 on the 16th, and in 1880 on the 18th. Curiously enough for the last four years—namely, in 1883–4–5 and 6, this Vote has been taken on the same night as the Army Vote. Hon. Gentlemen may receive my assurance that the Vote must be taken and included in a Ways and Means Bill. The days on which the Vote may be taken vary in different years, owing to the manner in which Saturdays and Sundays may intervene and follow after; but I assure the Committee that this is the last day on which we can take the Vote on Account, so as to comply with the law.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER
I am sorry to dispute the statement of so high an authority on financial business as the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury; but I cannot accept his statement in the face of the exception to the rule he has laid down which he has himself quoted, and which shows that this Vote has been taken on the 24th March. It is impossible to introduce a Bill, pass it through all its stages, and obtain the Royal Assent for it between the 24th and the 31st of March; therefore, there must have been an occasion when the Vote on Account 959 for the Civil Service was not granted before the introduction of the Appropriation Bill passed at the end of the financial year. It is a common thing to take Votes on Account in May. The final appropriation of money for the purposes of the State is made in the Appropriation Act at the end of the Session. I agree that this Vote should be taken before the end of March and of the financial year, and I think it is necessary that there should be a Vote in Ways and Means before the 31st; but I am respectfully doubting that it is unnecessary to do what the right hon. Gentleman proposes, and include this Vote in the Appropriation Bill which the Financial Secretary to the Treasury must bring in at once.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I am sorry to be obliged to differ from the hon. Gentleman who has held the Office of Secretary to the Treasury later than myself; but I am sure he will find, if he inquires into the matter, that no money can be paid for Civil Services, or for the Army or Navy, unless it is included in an Act of Parliament that has received the Royal Assent before the 31st March. In regard to the case of 1882, which I mentioned, and to which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded, I am strongly of opinion that the Vote was put in in Committee, which is an irregular transaction, and one which ought not to be recognized in this House. To be regular, the Committee should take the Votes as a whole; and I am satisfied, from my experience of Treasury arrangements, that it is necessary that this Vote should now be taken.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I should like to point out that if it is as the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury says, the difficulty which has arisen is solely owing to his own act. His contention is, that one Vote must be taken for the Army, one for the Navy, and one for the Civil Services, in time to pass the Appropriation. Bill. Well, he had his Votes for the Army and Navy some time ago, and what was there, I should like to know, to prevent him from patting down the Civil Service Estimates at the beginning of the evening? It was not necessary to take the third Navy Vote to-day; at any rate, if we have been led into any difficulty, it is the fault of the First Lord of the Treasury, or the Secretary to the Trea- 960 sury, for not having put down the Vote on Account for Civil Services before the Navy Estimates. Having put down the Votes wrong, they now come to us, at half-past 11 o'clock at night, and seek to prevent us from discussing these Estimates. We, on these Benches, should like to discuss the Civil Service Vote proposed for our consideration, for at least five or six hours; but we are told that it must be taken at 12 or 1 o'clock in the morning. I think the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, having acted as he has done, is bound to tell us, going over the period from now to the 31st March, day by day, how it is impossible for him to allow us an opportunity to discuss these Estimates. He ought to tell us how many days are required for the passing of the Appropriation Bill. I think it is eight—and the subject is one with which most of us are pretty familiar, seeing that the question of the days required for the passing of the Bill is very much mixed up with the question of our holidays. If it takes eight days, we still have two days more for these discussions; but, probably, it does not take as much as eight days, so that there may be even more than two days for the consideration of the Estimates. Under any circumstances, it is always possible for us to suspend the Standing Orders and get a Bill through in a day. In the House of Lords they very frequently do that, and why should not we follow that course? I certainly think we should not give up the discussion of these Estimates. There are two burning questions I wish to raise on the Navy Estimates; but in addition to that I desire to talk on the Civil Service Estimates, in regard to which there are a whole crowd of Notices put down. I think we ought to have a statement from the Government showing that it is impossible to put down Supply for tomorrow. I believe he would find it easy to do that. The House would, no doubt, allow him to withdraw the Notice he has given for to-morrow, so as to enable him to take Supply. He would even then have five or six days before him for the Appropriation Bill. Seeing that the right hon. Gentleman had such a simple course open to him as to have put the Civil Service Vote down first on the Paper to-day, but has not availed himself of it, I think the Committee would be entitled to refuse to yield to 961 him. He seems to be wrong all round, and not to be sufficiently alive to the fact that there are half-a-dozen ways out of the difficulty.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I quite agree with the "First Lord of the Treasury that this Civil Service Vote should be included in the Ways and Means Act before the end of the financial year, otherwise the Civil servants cannot be paid; but, on the other hand, I am not inclined to accept his statement that the Vote cannot be obtained in Committee on the Bill. It has been done—I am told that it has been frequently done, and that there is nothing irregular about it. It may not be customary; but that has nothing to do with the question of regularity. It was done in 1882, as the right hon. Gentleman himself states, and that being the case, why should not it be done now?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
In reference to the observations of the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Nolan), I would remind him and the Committee that I stated distinctly when in Committee last Thursday, that it was proposed to take a Navy Vote and a vote on account for the Civil Service to-night. I said that, in order to meet the views of hon. Gentlemen who appealed to me for an opportunity for discussion on the general question of the Navy Estimates. There was no breach of understanding, therefore——
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) says that this Vote on Account has been put in in Committee on the Ways and Means Bill, and no doubt that is true; but it is an irregular transaction. It is an irregular course, and one which I, for one, do not recommend the Committee to take. The custom is that the Vote shall appear in the Bill in the form in which it has gone through its several stages, and the Rule of this House is not to suspend the Standing Orders in respect of the passage of Money Bills. I never, during my 19 years' experience, remember two stages of a Money Bill being taken on the same night in this House, and I certainly should not be the one to depart from that Rule, which I consider a sound one in financial matters. I hope the Committee will allow the Vote imme- 962 diately before us to be withdrawn, and put off to a future day; or to be disposed of at once, so as to allow the Vote of Credit to be discussed.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
I am afraid that we are introducing a new form of clôture. Surely it is not contended that in voting practically the main principles of this huge sum for the naval services of the country, a single night's debate ought to satisfy the Representatives of the people. I cannot imagine that the First Lord of the Treasury can be serious in putting forward any such contention. What has happened to-night? The Committee has been engaged in listening to experts upon the Navy, the discussion having been varied by mutual complimentary bandying between the occupants of the Front Opposition Bench and the Treasury Bench. But hardly any serious discussion and inquiry as to whether this huge sum is necessary for the defence of the Empire has been entered upon by any single Member, nor has the Government ever attempted to show its necessity. Surely, it is not wrong to remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that certain professions were made in their name by the noble Lord who is now absent (Lord Randolph Churchill), and who, whether present or absent, counts for a great deal. [Cries of "Divide!"] If we are not allowed to proceed with this conversation, all I can say is that I never witnessed such an exhibition in the House of Commons before, as that upon a general question of policy in regard to these great spending Departments, it is not allowed a single Member to occupy five minutes of the time of the Committee. With regard to the subject before us, I would not undertake to say that the right hon. Gentleman would be likely to get his Vote for the Civil Services, even supposing the debate on the Navy Estimates were to be adjourned, at this time of night. One of the first duties of Members of Parliament is to deliberate on these finances, and to suggest to the Government the possibility of effecting the reductions in certain directions, and I see no reason why the independent Representatives of the taxpayers of the country should yield to the demand of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman cut the ground from under his feet by the list he read. He told us that the Vote on Account 963 was taken on one occasion on the 24th March; and in order to have imported any value at all to the case he was attempting to make out, he should have assured us that as much time has been given to the discussion of the Votes in Supply this Session as is usually given in other years up to this date.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
All I can say is, that I have sat in this House and listened night after night to discussion on various branches of the Estimates; but there has been no opportunity afforded us of discussing these matters. But whether that is so or not, both Parties have been charged by the country to secure economy in these great spending Departments. Now, I want to ask has there been economy in the Army and Navy? We have an undertaking given to us that next year some economy will be brought about. It is said that there can be no economy effected this year, or at any rate no substantial economy. But as to that, it might be remarked that right hon. Gentlemen opposite probably do not feel any great responsibility in regard to next year's Estimates. Therefore the postponement of any plan of economy is all in their favour. If the noble and gallant Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford) continues to possess influence in the Government, we are not likely to have much economy in connection with naval matters for years to come. I have not forgotten the impression he made from this side of the House, when he condemned half the Navy as either obsolete or rotten, and wanted £5,000,000 spent on it one year, and £6,000,000 the year following, with another sum in reserve as large as the first two put together. All I can say is, that hon. Members will be deluded if they reckon upon economy being initiated by the Government now in Office, or by any Government that is likely to succeed them. If economy is brought about it will be through the exertions of independent Members sitting on both sides of the House. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh; but I venture to say that the denunciations of the extravagance of the late Government, which came from private Members in this House, was not all idle talk. I should be glad if the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Admiral Field) suc- 964 ceeds in obtaining the opportunity he desires. If he does, I have no doubt he will pour a very powerful broadside into his noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty. I consider that this Committee is bound to make a stand, and to refuse to allow this hustling and shuffling of the Estimates through the House. I, for one, see no reason why we should forego the opportunity of discussing the Estimates, seeing that the Government have taken nearly the whole of the time this Session for other Business. As I have suggested, one of the first duties which belong to us is to criticize, with all necessary minuteness, the items of the Votes and the general policy that the Government have embarked upon. A question has been asked as to what is the general policy of the Government in regard to the magnitude of our Navy, and the work it has to do. Well, I want an answer to that question. I think it a very crucial one. It is impossible for us to say whether the amount asked for is excessive, or not, unless we have some explanatory statement as to policy beyond that given in the Statement issued by the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty. Therefore I hope I shall receive some support in insisting that this question shall remain open in order that we may discuss general policy. It was an undertaking given by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that we should discuss general policy upon this Vote. It must be clear to the Committee that such discussion has not taken place, and that the clôturo which the right hon. Gentleman now proposes to apply, will be in the highest degree unsatisfactory.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
Do I understand that hon. Members opposite desire this Naval Vote to be withdrawn?
§ An hon. MEMBER: On one condition.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
What condition? If it is the wish of the Committee to discuss this Vote further on another occasion, I should be perfectly willing to withdraw it. It seems to me to be the wish of the Committee to have some further discussion, [Hon. MEMBERS: We do wish it.] Then I would ask the leave of the Committee to withdraw the Vote.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I rise to ask a question. I wish 965 to know distinctly, before this Vote is withdrawn, at what date it is proposed that we should renew the discussion upon it? What date will be fixed for it? Shall we have a fair opportunity of resuming the debate? I also want to know whether, in the event of our taking the Vote on Account for the Civil Service to-night, we shall have an opportunity of making Motions on going into Committee; or what will be the course pursued?
§ MR. CONYBEARE
There are several Resolutions of different kinds to be discussed, involving an enormous amount of detail in connection with the Civil Service Vote; and I should like to know what time to-morrow morning the Government expect that we should be able to dispose of the matter? It would be impossible for us to permit the Vote to pass without discussion. I, for one, am not at all disposed to allow such a Vote to be rushed through in the manner contemplated by the Government. I do not charge the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury with any breach of understanding in having put down this Civil Service Vote on Account. Certainly not; but what I do charge him with is this—that after promising us an adequate opportunity of discussing those Navy Estimates, he practically deprives us of that opportunity by endeavouring to treat us as he is proposing to do.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I did not understand my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Nolan) to charge the First Lord of the Treasury with a deliberate broach of understanding. What my hon. and gallant Friend complains of is this—that the right hon. Gentleman has put down an important Civil Service Vote behind another Vote, which must be discussed in order to choke off discussion upon that Civil Service Vote. That is what we object to. We, who take an interest in the Civil Service Vote, have sat hero all night in order to have an opportunity of discussing it. If the noble Lord had withdrawn the Naval Vote at 7, 8, or 9 o'clock this evening, we should have been willing to go on with the discussion of the Civil Service Vote. But what if it we are asked to do? Why, here is a Vote on Account for the Civil Service of £3,624,100; and I must say that during 966 my short experience in this House I never recollect a single instance on which a discussion of a Vote of this kind did not consume at least one whole night. We are asked now to vote this enormous sum of over £3,500,000 for the Civil Services, covering a vast number of subjects of vital interest. By doing so we shall be placing the Government in a position above criticism—we shall be removing them from criticism for a period of, perhaps, three months—that is to say, until the end of May or the beginning of June. Personally, I am altogether opposed to an important Civil Service Vote being brought on at this time of night (12 o'clock). If the First Lord of the Treasury considered it absolutely necessary to take this Vote to-night, he should have put it down on the Paper first. He could have taken to-morrow night, or any night during the week, for the discussion of the Vote. What I would suggest is this—that if the Government are not disposed to postpone the Resolutions of which they have given Notice for to-morrow, in order to take those Votes, they should postpone the Votes until the 24th March—Thursday next—when we shall all be prepared to discuss them.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
My right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) has given Notice of the course he intends to pursue, and when he did so there was no protest from any quarter of the House. [Cries of "When?"] On Friday last. No hon. Member will lose his right by the course now proposed. An hon. Member has said that he never remembered such a course having been taken before; but the fact is that last year the Vote on Account was taken on the same evening as the first Navy Vote; in 1885 it was taken after the first Navy Vote; and the same thing was done in 1881 and in 1883. Therefore, Her Majesty's Government are strictly following the course pursued by right hon. Gentlemen opposite when they had the occupancy of the Treasury Bench. I hope that the Committee will now consent to the withdrawal of this Vote and reserve it for future discussion.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Poplar)
As far as my recollection serves, it was not specifically stated on behalf of the Government that it was absolutely neces- 967 sary to sit on the 1st of April; and I doubt very much whether on any of the occasions referred to, the Government tried to take the Vote after half-past 12 o'clock. It does, therefore, seem hard on hon. Members who have an interest in Civil Service questions, that they should be called on to discuss them at this hour of the morning.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
It is my impression, as the result of a somewhat long experience, that no Appropriation Bill has taken more than eight days, and the Government ought, before they press the Business upon the Committee in this way, to be able to show the opposite. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury is so anxious about the Money Bills that he will not forego the slightest matter of form; but the difficulty would be got over if he would give us Tuesday, "Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday for the discussion of the Civil Service Estimates.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I certainly think that two stages of a Money Bill ought not to be taken on the same day. What I would suggest to the Committee is that we should either allow the Government to withdraw this Vote and proceed to the Vote on Account of the Civil Service Estimates, or that they should agree to take the Civil Service Estimates Vote on Thursday next. I think it would be best to allow the Vote to be withdrawn. The question is whether we should go on and take this Navy Vote. I certainly understood that the Civil Service Vote was to be taken this evening. [Cries of "No!"] Hon. Members say "No;" but I am stating facts. An arrangement was made that this course should be adopted; and I myself certainly understood that the whole of this evening would be given up to the Vote on Account of the Civil Service Estimates.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I am in the recollection of those who were present at the time when I state that after 2 o'clock last Friday morning the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) wanted to take the Vote on Account of the Civil Service Estimates; but he stated that he would postpone it if we would give him the two Navy Votes he then wanted without further discussion. The result was that he got those Votes; and now 968 the Government are asking us to give them the Civil Service Vote practically without discussion. I think that the best thing we could do would be to go on with the present Vote, and ask the Government to take another night for the Vote on Account of the Civil Service Estimates, because there are some questions connected with the Civil Service Estimates which the Scotch Members are very anxious to discuss, but which they are unable to go into, because the Lords of the Treasury are blocking their Bills; and as they cannot have the questions to which those measures relate brought fairly before the House, they are obliged to take the best means they can of raising their grievances.
§ MR. R. W. DUFF (Banffshire)
I understood it to be said by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) that private Members would not suffer inconvenience by the course proposed with regard to the taking of the Civil Service Estimates; but I do not quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman. If we do not take up the Civil Service Estimates before Easter, it is quite certain they will be put down immediately after the Easter holidays, probably on the first day, and the Government having taken up the whole of the time of the House up to the present moment—such a course would be very hard on hon. Members who have important questions to raise on the Estimates, and have had no other opportunity of bringing them forward. I think that the least the House can ask is some assurance from the Government that we shall not have the Civil Service Estimates taken the first day after Easter.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
Nothing but absolute necessity could justify the Government taking such a scandalous step as asking the House to take up a Vote of £3,500,000 at a quarter past 12 o'clock. But I would point out that there is another course open to the Government, which would be fraught with very little inconvenience, and that is to give us a Saturday Sitting. The meeting would be a merely formal one, and the only inconvenience it would involve would be to a more quorum of the Houses. Under these circumstances, when the Government is in a position to take this course in order to obtain the object it has in view, without any irregularity, there can 969 be no possible excuse for their going on with the Vote they propose to take at this hour in the morning.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)
I must say that I object to a Vote on Account of the Civil Service Estimates being taken without discussion, because there will not be another opportunity for discussing the Education Code before it will have lain on the Table during the 40 days necessary to give it validity.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The Government are able to give the assurance that the Civil Service Estimates shall not be put down for the first night after Easter. Supposing there were an open day for discussing the Vote on Account, nothing could be more unsatisfactory than to use it for discussing different Votes, the debating of which is properly taken in Committee upon the ordinary Estimates. Already more subjects have been named than could be discussed on the Vote on Account; and it is evident that if a debate were to be opened on one of them the others would have little chance of being reached the same night. I trust that after this explanation the Vote on Account may be allowed to be taken without discussion.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
The Government speak of the necessity of passing this Vote to-night, although I confess I do not see the necessity myself. They put down a Vote for the Navy which is not necessary, and they allow a most irregular discussion to take place which they must be aware cannot be brought to any practical issue. And this is precisely what the Government has been doing all along the line. They are particularly tenacious about points of precedent when that suits their purpose; but when it suits them to go the other way they are equally ready to dispense with anything like regularity. It is all very well to talk about the Appropriation Bill requiring eight days; but we know how the Bill may be expedited in "another place," whore they have not the same regard for rule that we have. For all that is necessary, it would be just as well if the Vote they are asking for were to be taken on Thursday.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
No answer has been given to the statement that the 24th of March has been held to be early enough in former years for taking the Vote on Account. Two 970 methods have been pointed out by which the Vote on Account can be taken without being taken to-night, and it is impossible for the Irish Members to assent to the Civil Service Votes being taken at this hour. We are not responsible for the prolongation of the debate; and although the Government may think the time to which they wish to limit us sufficient for the discussion of the Vote on Account, we should very much prefer to begin the discussion at half-past 5 in the evening rather than it should be brought forward in the way proposed and not discussed at all. We must judge every occasion by itself and every Government by itself, and I may say that I have never known any Government like the present. True, our Governments are not easy to understand and are impossible to define; but I have never known the relations between the Government of this country and the people of Ireland to be such as they are at this moment. We are told that we are not prevented from raising questions on the regular Services of the year; but when will they come on? There are questions of great magnitude in connection with the administration of Ireland which we desire to discuss, and in saying this I am arguing against this Vote being taken in the middle of the night. There are Irish questions of great urgency which will not brook delay, and it is impossible for us in the performance of our public duty to assent to their indefinite postponement. I, for one, should prefer to see the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury rise in order to give us his interpretation of his own remarks, rather than have the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer as his interpreter. It was at a quarter to 11 that the First Lord of the Treasury said that would be a reasonable time to bring on the Vote on Account, and he appealed to his Friends to assist him in obtaining it; and it is now nearly half-past 12. The debate on the Navy Estimates was kept up by the irrepressible Admirals on the other side of the House, and was not prolonged by us. The sailors in this House do not evidence the taciturnity they display elsewhere, and if, but for them, it was reasonable to bring on the Vote on Account at half-past 11, it is not reasonable to bring it on at half-past 12. It is, in fact, an 971 insult to our common sense to ask us to agree to the withdrawal of the Navy Vote at half-past 12, in order that another Vote of an important character requiring much discussion may be pushed down our throats. It will certainly be my duty, if the Vote on Account is pressed forward to-night, to raise an important question relating to social order in Belfast. The Government have had the Report on the Belfast riots before them for two months, and during those two months repeated inquiries have failed to secure a scintilla of information as to the policy they moan to pursue with regard to it. I represent a division of that town in which my constituents have bad their houses broken into, their property destroyed, and their lives taken; and although this has been the case the Government have so dawdled during the last two months over the questions affecting that place that disturbances have broken out four times, while the Report lay in some pigeon-hole in Dublin Castle; and I beg to inform the Committee, in the discharge of my public duty, that if we go to the Vote on Account at this hour, I shall be bound to raise the Belfast question on the Report of the Royal Commission with a fullness that will in all probability keep the Committee till daylight.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Objection being made—
I put the Question, and heard no answer; but if hon. Members say so, of course I accept the Statement.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
Will the Government now tell us what they propose to do with the Sitting?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
We are desirous of withdrawing the Vote; but if the Committee refuses to allow us to do that, we must take a Division upon it.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
I really have something to say on this Vote, and my mission is to make myself heard in the House. I did not intend to make a speech now, because I do not think I could do so with advantage to the constituency that sends me here; nor do I think the Committee would profit by it; nor do I think the Government will gain anything by an attempt to muzzle discussion. It 972 strikes me there are many important matters in connection with this Naval Vote we have before us. You, Mr. Courtney, will have it within your recollection that I am within the circumscribed limits of Order. I do not want to make any Motion. I do not want to attempt, for a moment, to put myself into any obstructive position. I do not wish to go anything beyond my legitimate privilege. What I want to say is this. It appeared to me that, on Vote 2 of the Naval Estimates—if hon. Gentlemen opposite will permit, I would put my intention as briefly as may be——
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON
What I intended to do on this Vote 2—which is reached, but not yet passed—what I intended I will now only indicate by saying that the question I was going to raise was the use of gunboats at evictions. Late as the hour is, we are not at all "funking" a debate on this question; we do not shirk the opportunity of raising it now. We will raise it with great deliberation; but I want to know what is to be done—whether we must go into it now, or whether the Government will allow us another opportunity of raising the question of the presence of gunboats at evictions? It is hard to put one's views before the Committee, when all around there are so many—it would be an expression Tin-Parliamentary to say "larking" atone—while so many Members have something to say at the same time. What I want to say is this. If I am only to have this opportunity of raising the question, I am fully prepared; if the Government think it inconvenient to proceed with it to-night, I am equally prepared to accept that decision.
§ MR. LANE (Cork Co., E.)
For something like eight hours I have been waiting to discuss a matter of great importance to my constituents. I desisted from doing so on a former occasion in deference to the wish of the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton), when the first Vote was taken, on the distinct understanding that I should have an opportunity upon the second Vote. The hon. Member for South - East Cork (Mr. Hooper) and myself did not bring forward the Haulbowline Dockyard ques- 973 tion while hon. and gallant Gentlemen connected with the Navy were engaged in a consecutive discussion, as we did not feel warranted in interrupting for the purpose of bringing on a peculiarly Irish question. This was the case on Thursday; and we thought that hon. and gallant Gentlemen, having occupied some eight hours that evening with their discussion, it would have finished tonight, in reasonable time, enabling us to bring on the subject in which we are interested. Since I agreed to postpone the subject, the face of affairs has been changed. The Government have given a Notice to take up the whole time of the House with matters they consider urgent, and so we have to regard matters in a different light to that in which they appeared in the last hour of Thursday's Sitting, and it becomes a matter of urgency with us to try to press upon the noble Lord and his Colleagues in the Admiralty the question which we formerly deferred at their request. It has become more incumbent upon me individually to bring it forward to-night than upon anyone else, because, though the Island of Haulbowline on which the Dockyard is situated, is geographically within the district represented by my hon. Friend the Member for South East Cork, it is practically within mine, though it may seem a paradox to say so, because nearly all those who work in that Dockyard live in my constituency at Queenstown. I have since Thursday had forwarded to me a Resolution of the Queenstown Town Commissioners asking me to bring this question under the notice of the House at the earliest opportunity, and I have also had a Memorial from those unfortunate men who are under notice of dismissal from the works at Haulbowline. Though the deputation which waited upon the noble Lord and his Colleagues when they visited Queenstown last November appealed for a continuation of the works on the ground that it would be an act of charity, we do not make any such appeal from our places here. It is only right that we should acknowledge the courtesy with which the noble Lord received the deputation, and I will go so far as to say he almost came up to the expectations of those who approached him from that particular point of view, that he would not carry out the sentence of 974 dismissal upon the 400 labourers at Haulbowline Dockyard. the noble Lord very kindly gave an undertaking that they should not then be discharged, but should be kept on until the early summer. On the part of these men I thank the noble Lord for his consideration. But I wish now to place the matter before the heads of the Admiralty in a different light. On Thursday, when the noble Lord had it brought under his notice, he said these works were completed, or nearly so, therefore there was no hardship about to be inflicted on the artizans and labourers about to be discharged. It is my duty to-night to traverse that statement of the noble Lord. I am not at all surprised that he should be so mistaken, because the origin of these Docks is now so far removed into the remote antiquity of officialism that it is absolutely impossible that the noble Lord should have any conception of the original plans or ideas that prompted the Admiralty first to undertake these works. The idea at that time was not to establish relief works in Cork Harbour for the employment of superfluous labourers—that seems to be the idea which has got into the minds of members of the Admiralty Board in recent years—and it is on that assumption they have based all their replies on this question when Irish Members have had their annual opportunity of bringing it forward. They have said as the noble Lord said on Thursday, that the Government have done all they could to provide employment up to a certain point, and that point reached they could do no more. When the noble Lord states that the plans as originally contemplated in connection with the Dockyard are completed he seems altogether to ignore the fact that in the original plans—of which I have a copy here which I shall be happy to place at his service—there is specified a second dry dock of much larger dimensions than that now constructed, and until this second dock is constructed the work cannot be said to be carried out. If all the money that has been spent up to the present time, an enormous sum—£500,000or £600,000, I do not know the exact figures—if all this is not to be wasted, sunk in Haulbowline Island, it is absolutely necessary for naval purposes that the original plans should be carried out and this second 975 dock constructed. I say this because the undertaking was commenced with a view to establishing an efficient, thoroughly serviceable Dockyard where the largest ships of Her Majesty's Fleet could not only be repaired but even constructed. The present dock is useless, not from any fault of the engineers who made the original plans, but because orders had to be given to have the dock shortened by 70 or 80 feet from the original plan. Since the original plans and specifications were drawn up, as I need not say to so many hon. and gallant Gentlemen, who have served in the Navy, the length of Her Majesty's ships has very much increased. Even had the dock been constructed upon the original plan it would now be too short for the bulk of the ships in the Navy. If we unfortunately drifted into war, and if three or four ships became disabled off the Irish Coast, not one of them could dock for repairs at Haulbowline. Even if one vessel could go into dock, all the other ships would have to lie in Queenstown Harbour for refuge, and would be practically blockaded until they could be towed to Devonport or some other Dockyard; their services being meanwhile lost to the country, which services would largely consist in the protection of our commerce. If you had your docks completed, with ample accommodation, machinery and appliances, vessels slightly damaged in their complicated machinery by accidents of warfare could be quickly repaired. In time of war, a largo part of the duty of our Fleet would be the protection of our commerce on the ocean, and it is no wild supposition to indicate Haulbowline as the only possible and safe place for repairs for those ships. In that Statement upon which the noble Lord has been so much complimented it is stated that Her Majesty has 260 ships in commission. A very largo proportion of those would be engaged in duty for the protection of the transatlantic commerce, and where could more convenient accommodation be found for such than in Cork Harbour? The noble and gallant Lord the Member for East Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford) said on Thursday that naval warfare would in future be conducted on a system of electricity, an expression indicating, I presume, the celerity of the operations. All the more important then was it 976 to have accommodation for repairs to ships ready to hand. I, as representing this particular constituency, and my colleagues representing neighbouring constituencies, stand up here to say we do not think the question of Haulbowline Dock should any longer be discussed on the very narrow basis of giving employment to a few hundred labourers. It should be approached in a broader spirit, and the Admiralty should make up their minds to cany out the original intention and establish in Cork Harbour a thoroughly efficient Dockyard for the purpose of repairing, if not of constructing, Her Majesty's ships of war. The original Estimate for the work was £550,000, and to that was subsequently added £18,000. I believe the whole amount of the original estimate has been exhausted during the 22 years the works have been going on—exhausted, to a very large extent, by a system of bungling and muddling. I do not say the present Board of Admiralty are responsible for the bungling and muddling of the past. I think the noble Lord has been deservedly complimented on the economies he purposes to effect in several Departments. The bungling, however, has taken place in connection with these Dockyard works; the money has been spent, and the plans are not half executed; and, that money being gone, we are told we ought to rest satisfied with the incomplete establishment which is the result, and that it is absolutely impossible for the Admiralty to ask for any further sum for these works. But we do not hear any statement of that kind in connection with an English Dockyard. If it is necessary to extend them, or, if the works turn out more costly than was anticipated, the Government come forward with further votes, and they are granted without hesitation. The noble Lord spoke a short time ago of a saving on the Navy Estimates of £800,000. Now, I do not think it unreasonable to ask that a small proportion of this saving might fall to our share. We have been getting something like £30,000 a-year on account of these works, and that is reduced this year to £3,000, and £7.000 for machinery. Only £10,000, out of an expenditure of £12,470,000, while Ireland, at the lowest computation, contributes £1,000,000 annually. I do not for a moment say, that because we in Ireland 977 contribute £ 1,000,000 a-year as our quota of £12,000,000 for the Navy, are, therefore, entitled to ask that a considerable portion of that amount should be spent in Ireland; we simply ask that the necessary sum should be expended on this solitary site in Ireland which is specially suitable for, and actually necessary as an Imperial Dockyard. A very small sum will suffice to carry out the original plan. Of course, I do not presume to speak with professional knowledge; but, so far as I have been able to gather, £70,000 or £80,000 would make the establishment thoroughly effective, and a valuable addition to our naval strength. The noble and gallant Lord the Member for Marylebone on a previous evening told us, in connection with the Navy Department, that one of the most important considerations to be attended to was that of being well prepared beforehand; and, that, in consequence of this foresight, a very largo saving in the expenditure required in the Navy Department would be accomplished. I, therefore, respectfully submit to the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty the reasonableness of the expenditure which we ask for this Navy Dockyard in Haulbowline. For many reasons, we think that an immediate alteration should be made in the programme of the First Lord of the Admiralty—on the score of economy, utility, and the fact of the proportionate contribution of Ireland to the Imperial Navy Estimates. I see by the Estimates which have been placed before us that, in the Dockyards at home—meaning by that the English Dockyards—there is a total number of 19,522 artizans and labourers employed, at a cost of £1,483,291; and in Her Majesty's Dockyards abroad—which I presume are merely a provision for the contingencies of accidents and breakings-down—there are employed 2,587 salaried officials and members of the artizan and labouring classes, who are to be paid in this year £278,737. Altogether, in the home and foreign Dockyards, the total number employed is 22,109 individuals, at a cost of £1,662,028. How many artizanis or mechanics have we got in Ireland receiving anything whatsoever from Her Majesty's Government in the way of naval employment? In this Haulbowline Dockyard, in connection with the technical repairs, some 978 12 or 13 artizans are employed; and, in addition, about 300 or 400 ordinary labourers, working for about 12s. or 14s. a-week. It is now proposed by the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty, from the 1st of June in this year, to dismiss these 400 hands who are receiving these miserable wages as unskilled labourers at Haulbowline Yard; and this in face of the fact that the labour is paid for out of Imperial Votes, to which Ireland contributes her proportionate share. I ask, are we to be told by any Supporter of the Government, or any Minister of the Crown, this is dealing out even-handed justice to Ireland? I say that hon. Gentlemen opposite, who are so constantly twitting us that we in Ireland are unjustifiably discontented, and charging us with being-disloyal, should recognize that, in this very Navy Vote, we have sufficient ground for being discontented, and I would almost say for being disloyal. At this moment we are asked to Vote this large sum of money to the Government for the employment of over 22,000 hands in connection with the Naval Service; and, side by side with this request, we are informed that from Juno 1st forward there is to be no other consideration shown to Ireland by the Lords of the Admiralty, except the consideration implied by the monthly dismissal of 80 of these labourers at Haulbowline. I appeal to the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty, if the policy of his Party is, that people living in different parts of this kingdom should all be treated alike and none of them receive exceptional favours, as compared with others, that in this matter of Naval Expenditure he should give the Irish people their just share. I do not think that we are seeking any preference: on the contrary, we find our £1,000,000 absorbed for the purpose of being expended in English naval Dockyards, and we get none of it, notwithstanding the fact that we have been paying our Imperial levy for 86 years. The Party to which I belong think it their duty to their constituencies to urge on the Government to take a wider view of this question of the Haulbowline Dockyard than would seem to be manifest in the policy of merely carrying on the works for a few weeks and more then dismissing the men. The Government should take the original plan upon which this 979 work was undertaken, and inquire into the case carefully, and not in a manner which sanctions the spending of £500,000, which just might as well have been thrown into the sea. the establishment of a Dockyard in Ireland—a Dockyard which would not be too short for Her Majesty's ships—would be recognizing the proportionate share of Ireland in the expenditure for Navy Estimates, and at the same time furnishing our shipwrights and ship-carpenters, who are now literally starving, with some amount of employment. If this wore done, Her Majesty's Navy, I believe, would be increased very largely in efficiency, and in time of war immense assistance and immeasurable advantage would be rendered to disabled ships of war which, in the hour of danger, could find a port of refuge and facilities for repair at the very threshold of the ocean.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I rise, Sir, to move that you report Progress and ask leave to sit again. I understand that the Government are anxious to bring forward a Vote on Account. It is perfectly preposterous that a Vote of such magnitude, involving large matter of discussion, can be brought forward at this time of night. I strongly object to this system of Vote on Account, and I think it is not fair to the House of Commons or the country that we should be called upon to pass a Vote of £3,000,000 when the discussion on it commences at half-past 1 o'clock in the morning. If the Government were not so very anxious to get this money, why did they bring the Vote on at this hour? They say—let the Navy Estimates be discussed; we will withdraw on the condition that this Vote on Account be taken. It is surely an old principle that no contentious Votes in the Estimates are taken after half-past 12 o'clock, and I certainly never hoard of a Vote of this amount being brought forward so late as this and the discussion begun. Because I believe that it is impossible to do work adequately in this style—we get so impatient and sleepy—that I hope the Government will agree that progress be reported, and in case they do that, I think they will find no opposition to the Navy Vote being taken on the understanding that the Vote on Account will be taken on a future day.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Labouchere.) [1.20 A.M.]
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 71; Noes 196: Majority 12.5.—(Div. List, No. 70.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
I am very sorry that it should be necessary to go into this Question of voting the Estimates at such an hour. the night has been spent by the speeches of experts on subjects mostly, I admit, of great importance in regard to the Dockyard system, and I strongly object to the discussion being taken at a time when the public will be unable to see by the Press what is passing. As I understand this Memorandum of explanation, it is matter to be referred to a Select Committee, and if then any economy can be scored for the figures presented by the officials of the Departments, the Report of that Committee will show whether these Estimates have been prepared with any regard to economy whatever. I should like to ask of the Government upon what principle did they go in determining what should be the strength of the Navy. In the Memorandum given by the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) we are told that it was upon the review of the last six years' expenditure, and it seemed that when there was a fit of economy on the part of the British Government there had been in all other European countries a desire to increase their naval armament, which embodied consequent expenditure. we are told, Mr. Courtney, because other Powers have increased their naval strength, it was necessary for us also to increase our expenditure on the British Navy, and the result has been that in the last two years, as compared with the preceding five years, we have spent nearly £8,250,000 above the average expenditure of the preceding five years. Now, Sir, I understand that has been done to make our fighting power equal to the combined fighting power of throe States of Europe. Mr. Courtney, what I have to say is this—that in all probability we shall continue this same policy. We may, from time to time, introduce small cheeseparing economies; but, on 981 the other hand, accordingly as the Powers in Europe see our expenditure rising, they will say to themselves, it is necessary to increase our armaments, and then again, because they have increased their armaments; we shall be told it will be necessary for us to strengthen our Navy in proportion. We have been doing all we could of late years to strengthen our ships, and to make heavy ordnance. The other nations in Europe have been compelled to follow our example, and the consequence has been a rivalry between the different States in Europe in regard both to their Naval and Military armaments, and I want to know when is this to cease? Is there no capacity in British statesmanship—is there no prospect that it will be able to put an end to this increasing rivalry between foreign Powers and ourselves? Are we prepared to go on increasing our armaments accordingly as the Continental Powers increase theirs? If we are, I can only say the result will be that it will become an intolerable burden to this nation. I for one moment should very much like to imagine that there would be such statesmanship on the part of the Conservative Administration as would enable them to put an end to this rivalry; and I say also that no Government in Europe is in so easy a position for making overtures to foreign nations having this object in view. We are able to say that we have a fighting capacity equal to any three Naval Powers on the Continent combined, and we can say that we are willing to rest upon our oars. We could make rational appeals to the other Powers in Europe to cease their rivalry before it is too late, because, I insist, that this rivalry cannot go on without doing an enormous amount of evil. Let an appeal be made to check this expenditure. We have been reminded by the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty to-night, that next year's Estimates have been prepared with such care and moderation as to show a decrease of nearly £800,000. That may prove to be so or not; but I would remind the House that there is such a thing—as we have found to our cost—as a Supplementary Vote, and it may be possible that in the spring of next year we may see something of such a Vote. I, therefore, do not regard 982 promises of this kind as of very much value until the year's expenditure has been got through, and we find ourselves not burdened with Supplementary Votes. When an appeal was made in the year 1885–6 for a very largo amount of money, it was based on the ground that the British Navy had fallen below its proper strength; and that an extraordinary expenditure would be necessary for a year or two, in order to make it efficient, and equal to the requirements of the nation. We are assured now by the First Lord of the Admiralty that we are really in a strong position, and able to grapple with any three Powers of Europe. I, therefore, appeal to the Government to know why they do not now cut down their Estimates to the normal expenditure of 1884. If we are in such a strong position, why not immediately drop back to the ordinary Estimates which satisfied both sides of the House before 1885? It appears to me that the decrease of £800,000 is totally inadequate to what we have a right to expect; and I would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen)—from whom no doubt we shall have a flattering Budget in due course—that if he exercised the influence in his power, he could put a stop to this continually increasing expenditure on our Navy to Army; and he could compel the spending Departments of the State to use much greater economy than they have done in the past. It should be remembered that we are now at peace with all the world, with perhaps the exception of Burmah, whore, however, we are told, affairs are rapidly becoming quiet. What then, I would venture to ask, is the use of keeping up the armaments of this country at their present extravagant level? I shall never cease, Sir, as long as I have the honour of sitting in this House to protest against this waste of the people's wealth. This country to my mind has not put itself in any more secure position now than it was in the past, although we have spent so much more money. We are told that there is a most necessary expenditure to be incurred in regard to our coaling stations, but that has not yet been provided for; and I have no doubt that in duo course the First Lord of the Admiralty will find that he has pressure brought to bear upon him to 983 induce him to indulge in that outlay. We also have it intimated to us by the noble and gallant Lord the Member for East Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford), that the Government are building a number of small vessels; and in view of this I must offer my earnest protest against the expenditure which is being incurred, and which the Government are attempting to justify on the ground that in no other way can we place ourselves in a position to escape from our difficulties.
§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
I had hoped, Mr. Courtney, that we should have been relieved at this late hour from the necessity of discussing those Estimates. I must say that I am alarmed at the ever-increasing expenditure of this country; and I am prepared to say that I think the greatest damage to the Empire is to be found in her extravagant naval expenditure. I think, Sir, that the state of trade and of industry should prevent the Government from placing their names to the very extravagant items indicated in this Vote; and I must add my belief that if we listened to the advice of the Admirals, and of the General Officers, who happen to be Members of this House, in reference to the supposed necessary expenditure of this country upon the two Services, we should find that we had landed this country very quickly into an exceedingly serious position. I noticed, in connection with this discussion, three points which are worthy of attention; but, before I deal with them, I should like to say that I think, after the enormous amounts we have already spent upon the Navy and Army, it is insulting, on the part of the Admirals and Generals, to come here and tell us that all our money has been thrown away, and that we must go in for fresh expenditure. Why, Sir, my reply to them would be that, if the money has been thrown away in the past, it has been so expended on the advice of hon. Members of their class, and there would be every reason for the belief that again to follow their advice would result in another useless outlay. I desire to express the earnest protest of my constituents against the ever-growing expenditure, and the continual increase of the Votes; and I did hope that the lesson taught us by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) 984 would not have been lost upon the Government. I had hoped that he had sufficient influence with the Government to induce them to listen to something in the shape of economical proposals; and if that had not acted as an inducement to them, I had hoped that their professions before the country a few months since would have led them to put before us Estimates of a very modest and economical character. But, Sir, I am afraid that official life is fatal to economy; for the moment a man is appointed a Member of the Government, he seems to lend himself to the greatest amount of expenditure possible. I venture to give just one note of warning. If this increasing expenditure is allowed to go on, you may depend upon it that in future the burden will fall, not upon labour, but upon property; and Members in this House who may be said to represent the propertied classes would do well not to lose sight of this fact. I had hoped that the professions of the Tory Party would have induced them to try and rival hon. Members on this side of the House in economy. I am afraid we are doomed to disappointment. There is only one other argument that I wanted to use; and in relation to that I may say that my own impression is that the great battle of the future will be fought between this country and America, and that the object of that battle will be to secure supremacy in the commerce of the world. Now, Sir, I would remind you that America is fast paying off her National Debt. She is paying, at least, £30,000,000 a-year; and when the day of competition comes, this country will enter upon the contest handicapped to such an extent by her National Debt that I am afraid she will be over-weighted; and I, therefore, warn the Government and this House against entering upon a line of extravagance which must have such disastrous results in the future. I am certain of one thing, and that is that the ratepayers and the taxpayers, the men who form the industrial part of this great nation, have a right to a voice in this matter. They feel the burden and the pressure of this taxation, and their voice, at any rate, is, and ought to be, lifted up in protest against the extravagant Estimates.
§ MR. O'DOHERTY (Donegal, N.)
In looking through the Estimates, I 985 notice, in regard to the item for victualling, that the amount is, at least, 25 per cent more per man than it was in 1878–9, although, since that time, provisions have fallen in price to the extent of, at least, 30 per cent. This, I think, is one of the matters which ought to be discussed in connection with these Estimates. To my mind, it is of far more importance than the proposed expenditure on our coaling stations. I would urge upon the Admiralty the desirability of sending the Fleet more often to Ireland. There we have splendid anchorage for vessels, with admirable facilities for naval manœuvres, and, at the same time, provisions can be purchased, at least, 25 to 30 per cent cheaper than in any other part of the world; and, therefore, while the shins would be in a healthy climate, the opportunities for practice and naval evolutions would be unusually good, and, at the same time, economy would be promoted in the expenditure in victualling the Fleet. At one time the Fleet was more often seen off the coast of Ireland. It only wanted some of the old Conservative Irish Members to make representations at the Admiralty to induce them to send the vessels there. Of late years, however, they have not been sent there; and I would especially call the attention of the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty—who has not a little connection with a part of Ireland—to the desirability of making use of the excellent harbours to be found there for naval purposes.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
On a recent occasion my hon. Friend the Member for one of the Divisions of Cork was very anxious, with his Colleagues, to bring under the notice of this House the question of the Haulbowline Dockyard; but before he could bring it on, many hours were spent, and perhaps properly so, by hon. and gallant Gentlemen in discussing the general question of the efficiency of the Navy, and it was consequently impossible to bring the matter before the House at a period at which it could be adequately discussed. We desired to raise the question relating to this dockyard as a matter of economy, because if the intentions of the Government were carried out as announced last Thursday by the First Lord of the Admiralty, the entire sum which had been spent upon the place would be utterly lost to the country, and Haulbowline Dock- 986 yard would remain a muddy monument to the gross incompetency of Her Majesty's Naval Administration. Twenty-two years ago this subject was brought before this House. It was intended to spend a sum amounting to something over £500,000 in the erection of a suitable dockyard at Queenstown, where the largest ships of the Navy could, if necessary, be repaired; but now, when much of the work has been done, the plan has been altered, the Dockyard has been shortened by something like 70 feet, and, if completed as proposed, it will be utterly useless for the purpose for which it was originally intended. I regret, Sir, that the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty is not in his place to give us some more explicit declarations of the intentions of the Government in regard to this matter. A deputation from the district waited upon him 12 months ago, and in compliance with their urgent request he consented to retain upon the works a number of unskilled workmen who were at that time threatened with dismissal. We claim now not merely their exemption from dismissal, but we claim also for them work, on the ground that Ireland is entitled to a legitimate share of the Imperial expenditure of this country on the Navy; and I do think that the people of Ireland have a legitimate grievance, especially those residing in the immediate locality of this Dockyard, in the fact that a largo amount of money has been spent up to a certain point; and that money is to be allowed to remain unproductive and useless for all purposes except as constituting a monument of gross blundering on the part of the Naval Administration. The case as it at present stands is this—that £500,000 has been spent for making a Dockyard; but, if the work be discontinued now, there will be a dock too short and quite unfitted for the purpose originally do-signed. On the first occasion when that matter was brought before Parliament, it was pointed out by Mr. J. F. Maguire, who was then Member for the City of Cork, that the Harbour of Queenstown was peculiarly well-suited for the establishment of a Dockyard, and that for many reasons. So strong wore his arguments, and so powerfully did they appeal to the Naval Authorities of the day, that his recommendations were adopted. A Report was issued 987 stating that, in the opinion of the Naval Authorities, Queenstown was admirably situated as a harbour of refuge for Her Majesty's Fleet, and that in this harbour it was eminently desirable that a Dockyard should be created, in which vessels of war could be properly repaired. Yet, at the present moment, if storm or any disaster overtook a vessel of the Fleet off the, coast, she could not be repaired at Queenstown. We had a recent instance. The Belleisle, upon which it was found necessary to expend £30,000 or £40,000, instead of being towed to Queenstown, as she would have been had this Dockyard expenditure been properly directed in the past, she was taken to Chatham, or Devonport, or some other Yard. We contend that these are matters well worth the consideration of the Committee. I think my hon. Friend the Member for East Cork was a little too easy and somewhat lavish in the praise he awarded the noble Lord on this Dockyard question. I maintain we are fairly and fully entitled to a reasonable and proportionate amount of expenditure for Dockyard purposes; and it is impossible that we can have this in future, unless Her Majesty's Government reconsider the determination which apparently they have come to. Well acquainted as I am with the harbour, knowing how far the work has progressed, and what a serious disappointment it is to many who take the deepest interest in the subject, and who expected by this time that substantial progress would be made—I shall take every opportunity that is offered in the House of bringing this question forward. My Colleagues who represent neighbouring constituencies are actuated by similar motives; but I hope it will not be necessary for us to use pressure upon the Naval Authorities with regard to this most important matter, and which affords a flagrant example of that blundering which has come to be regarded as inseparably connected with the great spending Departments.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
The Motion to report Progress was moved in order to afford the Government the opportunity of saying what they intended to do. It must be pretty evident to anyone who has listened to the debate for the lost two hours, discursive though it has been, that it has ranged 988 over a considerable number of new topics, and that it has not been altogether unconnected with the possibility of another Vote being taken subsequently. Now, I must certainly say the my hon. Friends who have felt it necessary to object to going on with the Vote on Account of Civil Service Estimates, seem to have reasons on their side which are every moment increasing. I am informed that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury admitted that it was not absolutely necessary to go on with the Civil Service Vote on Account. Various methods were pointed out whereby all that is legalty necessary may be complied with. Naturally, the Government desire to get their Vote to-night; but there has been much time lost in the attempt; and, surely, they will not, after 2 o'clock, ask us to vote away £3,500,000, and on a Vote that embraces a number of topics upon which discussion is certain to be raised. I shall now propose, Sir, that you leave the Chair. Of course, if the Civil Service Vote is to be gone on with, we must stay and attend to matters in which we are interested; but, surely, the Government will not ask us to take this enormous Vote at such an hour. Therefore, to give the Government the opportunity of making an explanation, I now move that you leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Dr. Cameron.)
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
I should like to point out to the hon. Member that it is not the fault of the Government if we do not get on with Business. I believe, as far as I am able to judge, that it is the opinion of the Committee that the time has arrived when we should take the Vote which has been under discussion so long. I want also to point out to the hon. Member, in reference to what he appears to believe is an unreasonable hour to take the Vote, that it must be taken to-night; because, although it has been mentioned that on one occasion it was taken on the 24th March, it was then, as has been explained, inserted at a later stage of the Ways and Means Bill; and unless the Vote is taken to-night, it cannot be taken on the 24th (Thursday). We 989 could not take it until Friday; and, therefore, it is absolutely necessary it should be taken to-night. I am sure hon. Members are not aware, or they would not have expressed so much surprise, that in 1882, this Vote on Account was commenced at 1.45; in 1883 it was commenced at 1 o'clock; in 1881 it was commenced at 2 o'clock; in 1885 the Vote on Account was commenced at 4 o'clock; and last year it was commenced at 1.30, and finished at 2 o'clock. I think, therefore, there is nothing unusual so far as precedent is concerned. There is nothing unreasonable in the Government asking that the Vote should be taken under the circumstances, and no single Member of the Committee will lose the opportunity of criticizing any single Vote in the ordinary course of Supply, nor will any Member lose the opportunity of raising a discussion on an Amendment to the Motion for the Speaker leaving the Chair.
§ MR. DILLON
The hon. Gentleman has used an argument of some force; but he loaves out of view altogether the fact that there are circumstances at the present time that render it absolutely essential that there must be a prolonged discussion on this Vote. Of course, the Government are masters of the arrangement of Business; and if they do not choose to afford a more reasonable opportunity, we must discuss it at this time of night. It is all very well to tell us that no Member parts with any privilege by allowing this Vote to pass. It may be perfectly true that in the past year, or the year before, it was not necessary to challenge and persist in a discussion of a Vote of this kind; but that is no argument that it is not necessary this year. Whatever the circumstances were in the years alluded to, they are now such that it is entirely out of the question that the Vote should pass without considerable discussion. English or Scotch Members may not be in a position to discuss the Civil Service Estimates. I leave them to judge of that; so far as we are concerned, we avail ourselves of a privilege with which we have not the slightest intention to part. If we allowed this Vote to go without discussion, we shall not have another opportunity until May of raising questions that are convulsing Ireland at the present moment—questions that can and will be raised on this Vote, no matter 990 what is said by the Government, no matter how inconvenient it may be for the Committee. Measures of vast importance may be passed; while, by the patent plan brought to perfection by Members of the Tory Party within the last few weeks, every discussion on questions of importance to us can be blocked by bogus Notices on the Notice Paper never intended to be brought to discussion. I allude to this practice, so unworthy of Members of the House, as an additional reason why we shall insist on a fair discussion of this Vote on Account. I ask this question—if these Votes are to be passed; if it is considered necessary, or essential, to pass these Votes without discussion—why is it not the Rule of the House? Why are the Government and the Committee obliged to admit discussion? Is it not because, as we all know, that the principle is that circumstances may arise that will challenge discussion, perhaps a prolonged discussion, and in relation to matters that ought to have a prolonged discussion? Circumstances in the country, or circumstances connected with the Service, may arise that cause the Vote to be challenged at length. This has happened in the present case. Circumstances are going on in Ireland in connection with a Service for which we are asked to provide a large sum of money, and it would be absurd to suppose we should allow this Vote to pass. No matter, if there are half-a-dozen Votes on Account, we challenge each one so long as things are conducted in Ireland as they are now. I say this in support of the Motion for adjournment. If the Government considered this Vote was absolutely necessary to-night, they ought to have put it down before the Navy Vote, and then we could have debated it; and, early or late, the debate might have been closed. You have gained nothing by your conduct in regard to this Vote, though you may think it a gain to have choked off a certain number of gallant Gentlemen who desired to discuss naval matters. As I have said already, it is entirely out of the question that this Vote can be taken without considerable discussion; you must expect this when you ask us to provide money for the Bankruptcy Court and the Irish Constabulary and you might have taken the discussion at a more reasonable hour.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
The Secretary for the Treasury always tells us that money must be taken by a certain day. Sir, I am curious to know what would happen if the money were not taken. My own impression is, that the world would wag on very much as it did before. What terrible circumstances would take place if this money were not taken to-day? As the hon. Member for East Mayo has pointed out, this trouble has arisen entirely from the Government arrangement of business. [Cries of "No, no!"] I say it has arisen entirely from the action of the Government, and if an hon. Gentleman thinks otherwise, let him put his thought into speech. Why, when there were only two Votes to take, was the Navy Vote put first? It was not necessary, because the Government offered to withdraw it. If you had commenced discussion with the Vote on Account, you could have said to the gallant Admiral, "We will have your discussion at another time." Very valuable suggestions wore no doubt made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman; and then when your own followers, naval Gentlemen, have been discussing naval matters up to a late hour, you complain that we on this side are anxious to bring forward certain economical matters connected with the Navy, and you want to burke discussion on the part of Irish Members by bringing forward this Vote on Account at half-past 2. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Treasury appeals to precedents of the last few years, and that only proves to me our sacred duty to hold fast to our privileges, and not to add one more to these evil precedents. No one can deny for a moment that this Vote on Account is worthy of discussion at a reasonable hour. Very frequently there are complaints of our discussions being carried to a great length; but nothing of the kind can be said of this Vote on Account, for discussion has not commenced. If the committee like to go on I am prepared. I have the Estimates here, and I judge from them that I shall have to speak some 30 times, and I estimate that I shall have to move about 20 Amendments; but I am perfectly ready to remain here.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
After the speech we have just heard, everyone must see that it is the bounden duty of the Government to proceed with the Estimates. 992 What would be the use of postponing them, in order to give an opportunity for an Irish discussion, when we hear from the hon. Member for Northampton that it is his intention to make 30 speeches, and move 20 Amendments. The hon. Member is indifferent whether the money is voted or not, and he wishes to know what would happen if the money were not voted. The effect would be that the financial arrangements of the country would be seriously embarrassed, and we have no resource but to proceed. I can quite understand the views of hon. Members, who say there are important matters in connection with Ireland to be discussed; but how do we know that any particular Irish Question will come on when we are to have 30 speeches from the hon. Member? We should probably come to the Vote on Account, if proceedings were to be conducted in the manner indicated in the course of weeks, not days. Therefore, though it must be most inconvenient to any Member of the Committee, there is nothing for it but to proceed and listen with patience to such matters of importance as may be brought before us. I only hope that hon. Members opposite will, when we come to discuss the Vote on Account, go at once to the more important matters they desire to bring forward, not wasting time upon minor details.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
The right hon. Gentleman says even if we did get a day for the discussion of our questions, what guarantee would my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo have that he would obtain time for the adequate discussion of the important subjects to which he has referred. Well, of course, it would be difficult to obtain that guarantee in favour of the matters he thinks it due to his countrymen to bring forward. But the language of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury shows that he feels the inconsistency of the position of the Government. He tells us that some years ago when a Vote on Account was taken, it was proposed at half-past 1 and passed at 2. That is perfectly true; but it only shows how differently things were situated then.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in reference to my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) speaks of the 20 Amendments as 993 if they were 20 crimes; but my hon. Friend would only be doing what he is in the habit of doing. Let hon. Members recollect that last year my hon. Friend moved the reduction of a Vote and carried his Amendment. It was a friendly Government then in Office, and it had not to go out; but it may be expected the present Government would go out if they were defeated. However, we are in no hurry to got through the discussion; there are items we would prefer to have debated to morrow morning when Representatives of the Press will be present. We are standing upon Constitutional grounds; you are not when you attempt to shout us down or vote us down in silence in the early hours of the morning. The Secretary to the Treasury says that for years this Vote has been passed at a late hour; but what happened? Did not the Estimates go up; did not these very Civil Service Estimates increase, because we did not discuss them? Well, we are not doing that now. What is the use of sacrificing a Chancellor of the Exchequer on the altar of economy if we are to vote the Civil Service Estimates when there is no Press to record the names of Members who are in sympathy with us? The Chancellor of the Exchequer is like the beggar in Gil Blas on a large scale. I do not think we ought to yield, but should proceed calmly to debate the Naval Estimates until the Press return, and we shall be well reported at 7 in the morning. If the people of this country know that we wanted so unconstitutionally to pass the Estimates at this late hour, when Members are too tired to discuss and criticize the items efficiently, they would make themselves heard in such a way that we should soon have to do something in order to keep down this dreadful extravagance.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
I desire, Sir, to support the Motion to report Progress, and I do so as one who has a few small grievances to bring forward during the discussion on the Navy Estimates. I protest against the way in which Business is being rushed through at this hour. The grievances of which I have to complain being of comparatively and apparently small importance, I have abstained from bringing them forward hitherto; but I do not see that I should lose any opportunity 994 of making them known. Whilst hon. and gallant Gentlemen below the Gangway were discussing matters of naval interest I refrained from interfering with my complaints, because I knew they wished to give the Committee the benefit of their experience and special knowledge, and to bring under notice items of technical importance; but I did not expect that facilities for discussing grievances would have been curtailed or cut off. I repeat that, though the particular grievances against which I take exception are small, I protest against being compelled at this hour of the morning to proceed with them. For it is of the highest importance to our constituencies that the grievances which specifically affect them should be adequately inquired into and made gene-rally known. Yet, owing to the lateness of the hour, we must fail to get publicity in the Press, and accordingly the views of our constituencies cannot get ventilated. I consider that the manœuvre of the Government this evening was very unworthy of them. They have treated these Estimates in such a manner as to force and compel all reasonable Members of the Committee to accede, if possible, to their request that the Vote should be taken; and considering the public duty that hon. Members have to perform, considering the necessity that we feel exists for the adequate discussion of these Estimates, we find ourselves, in fact, reluctantly obliged to refuse the Government that which they desire. Sir, I also believe that the language and tone of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) towards my hon. Friend the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) was also a very unworthy proceeding, and I do not think that my words are at all too strong in saying that, for if we are to take our cue from the words and manner of the right hon. Gentleman, it would seem quite an unbecoming thing for an hon. Member of this House to bring forward an Amendment, or to make a Motion during the discussion of the Estimates. In the most emphatic manner possible I protest against such language, and against such a tone towards hon. Members when they find it necessary to prolong a discussion, in order to complain against the treatment of those who have substantial grievances to bring forward.
§ MR. JACKSON
I want to remove, so far as I can, the impressions formed from criticisms which proceed on an incorrect assumption. Let me say that nobody is responsible for unworthy conduct in connection with the placing of that Business on the Paper except myself. I entirely accept and take the whole responsibility, and there is no attempt to do otherwise. I placed the Business of the House on the Paper in the manner in which it stands, in discharge of a promise made by the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith), and made at the request of hon. Members on the other side of the House; and. so far as I am able to judge, it was on the distinct understanding that the Vote on Account, which is so necessary to be taken tonight, was to be taken subsequently; and this was made last Friday morning, and renewed again at half-past 4 o'clock. I should very much like hon. Members to remember that if there is anyone to blame I am entirely to blame in this matter.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
I confess I am in some difficulty in understanding the observations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen). He rather gave the Committee to understand that there was a change of policy on the part or Her Majesty's Government as to the procedure on the Vote on Account, in consequence of the speech of my hon. Friend the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). As I understand, from about 11 o'clock to-night, the Government had the intention to force through both these Votes; and I feel perfectly convinced that the observations of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton had nothing whatever to do with the Government's determination. I admit that I am somewhat surprised that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) should take such a ground. I asked the Question of the Government whether they did not intend, and whether they did not avow that intention, to take both these Votes. I did not understand in the least that any remarks of my hon. Friend had anything to do with the arrangements of the Government; and I think they ought to tell the House whether it was or was not the intention of the Government to force through, without discussion, both these Votes. There is another point to which I should like to call attention, and that is the circumstance 996 which the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) has impressed upon us—namely, that there is some actual necessity for the Vote on Account to be taken to-night. We had the same point urged by the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith); but, though precedent completely cuts the ground from under his feet, I wish to state that, as this matter appears from this side of the House, it would seem that the Government is of opinion that there is an urgent necessity that this Vote should be pushed through to-night, discussed or unconsidered, on the score of time. Now, I submit that if this House is driven into a corner like this, it is the Government who have done the damage, and it is the duty of that Government to make such necessary changes and arrangements as will enable the Vote to conform with the law. It is not justifiable on the part of the Government to assume that in the case of the Votes being brought forward late they should be allowed to pass them through without discussion. It is surely the duty of the Government to bring in the Votes at such a time that the Committee of the House may not be deprived of a reasonable opportunity of examining and discussing them. It is a strange doctrine to promulgate that on account of the way in which the Government has arranged Public Business we are bound to forego discussion of important matters, in order to suit their convenience. Let us clearly understand that hon. Members from all parts of the United Kingdom regard this to be an altogether abnormal Session. The House has been almost entirely in the hands of the Government. Much time has been spent in discussing unnecessary changes in the Procedure of the House. This having been done, the Government have hinted to us that they intend to fully monopolize and absorb the time of the private Members, on the plea that that time is required for special Business. It seems to me that hon. Members of this House, though they may have other questions to consider, would be very remiss in their duty if they did not seize the only opportunity that is given for discussing questions of so much importance as these. I would venture to suggest to the House that a very fair and reasonable course to pursue at this time of night would be that if there is a 997 disposition shown to let this Vote pass at a convenient time, the Vote on Account should be postponed until Thursday next, in order that hon. Members may have a chance of discussing matters; of the highest importance. The main way in which the constituencies can be informed of what Business is passing in the House is through the Provincial Press; and if discussion on this matter is prolonged, a great deal which would; have been interesting to the country and to the Irish constituencies will never reach them. I submit that it is utterly unreasonable that these important discussions should go on between the hours of 3 and 8 o'clock in the morning—unreasonable, to Members who wish to take part in the debates, and unreasonable to the constituencies which desire to see that theirs and the country's interests have been attended to. The great security which Members have in this House is not the weight of the speaking in the House, but the weight of public opinion throughout the country. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on this side, for instance, are the Representatives of the overwhelming majority of public opinion in Ireland. I ask and appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to show to his Colleagues how desirable it is that this Vote on Account should be left until Thursday for discussion. I grant that if the matter were taken up again on Thursday the Government would be in a position to request to allow the Vote to pass without delay, and I am of opinion that such a request would be heeded. I fool satisfied that this appeal is deserving of the consideration of the Government, and I hope that right hon. Gentlemen opposite will see their way to take advantage of it. If it were necessary to my case, I could refer to the fact that, owing to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), it so happened that these Supplementary Votes wore not further postponed; but I think, on the whole, the Government should give their serious consideration to the suggestion, and they will find that they could follow, in the circumstances, no better course.
§ DR. CLARK
Might I point out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) that it was on Friday morning, between the hours of 2 and 3 998 o'clock, that the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) mentioned about having these Votes discussed? A long discussion has taken place on a Vote which was not required, and after that the Government asks the House to begin a discussion at this time of the morning on most important subjects, and tolls hon. Members that unless they do so it will be necessary to resort to an All-night Sitting. Now, that is a course which I think will meet with very little approval, and it seems to me that very little regard is being devoted to the interests of the constituencies, and more especially of the more remote portions of the United Kingdom. I might be allowed to tell the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there has been a strong growth of national life in Scotland and Ireland, and also in Wales. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may laugh; but I am only telling what is a very patent fact, and one which they would do well to recognize, for, in consequence of that expanse of nationality, the feelings of the people have been affected regarding the ancient Celtic.
the hon. Gentleman might remember that the Motion before the House is that I "do now leave the Chair."
§ DR. CLARK
I wished, Sir, to point out that the reason why we desire that you should leave the Chair is that other matters should be discussed—matters brought forward by Scotch and Welsh Members, and of the greatest importance to the Scotch and Welsh people. My hon. Friend the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), I feel sure, will, if we appeal to him, in order that very important matters may come before the House, withdraw his Motion regarding the Royal Palaces, Parks, and the like, for the purpose of giving Scotland and Wales half a chance of making known their public opinion on subjects chiefly concerning themselves.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
I consider, Sir, that no class of Members in this House have more reason to complain of the conduct of the Government, when matters concerning and interesting to that class are for discussion, than the Scotch Members. There are a number of Votes of a contentious character which we consider that it is our duty to call attention to and discuss. Thus there is 999 the Vote for the Secretary for Scotland. The Government recently have made arrangements in regard to that Office of the most unsatisfactory character, and of such a character as demands a full discussion in this House. There are, again, matters concerning the Fishery Board of Scotland which also require careful consideration; and I could go on pointing out one Vote after another upon which it is the duty of the Scotch Members to express the inconvenience to which the people of Scotland have been subjected by the action and conduct of the Government. My experience of the present Government is this—that when there is an opportunity seriously to discuss questions affecting Scotland we ought not to forego that opportunity, because we may expect no consideration, no mercy, from the Government; for if it is possible for the Government to adopt and pursue arrangements which leave no facilities for the consideration of Scotch affairs, no other means will be provided in order to enable Scotch Members to express their opinions on matters most immediately affecting their constituencies. I wish to say that if, when we come to questions of the greatest importance to the people of Scotland, we are asked to discuss these questions at 3 o'clock in the morning, that is a proceeding so unsatisfactory to the people of Scotland that it will open their eyes to the utter hopelessness of carrying on the Business of Scotland in this House.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I must say that I fool distressed when I see the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) rising in his place, with his face denoting the words of the old song, "Home, Sweet Home!"—and this indicates what is exactly in the right hon. Gentleman's heart; but, unfortunately, owing to the representations and remonstrances made by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on his own side of the House, he seems to be yielding to the policy which is implied in the words of the comic song, "We won't go Home till Morning."
§ SIR JAMES M'GAREL-HOGG (Middlesex, Hornsey)
I should like to ask you, Sir, what comic songs have to, do with the Business of the House?
§ DR. TANNER
I will refer, Sir, to no more comic songs. But really, I think, when we take into consideration all the various remonstrances which have been addressed to the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) and to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen), that certainly some reasonableness should be shown, and the request made for opportunity of discussing important matters should be granted. The Vote under consideration this evening is one which I hope to say a few words about in connection mainly with the Medical Service in the Navy. In that Department there is a highly unsatisfactory condition of things; and I desire to bring attention to bear in debate upon matters of great grievance in regard to the various schools where medicine is a subject of instruction. I suppose the Government is acquainted with the fact that remonstrance is being made by the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin; and I hope to be able to give them some information on this matter. Another point to which I want to call attention is about Haulbowline Dockyard. Now, these are two very important points; and I think, when the Government considers them carefully, they will find that it is not very right to ask the House to go on at this hour of the morning, in- stead of giving an opportunity for de- liberate discussions of matters of grievance. And I maintain that we have a right to expect fair treatment, because I presume that hon. Members are sent to this House to represent constituencies which expect that they will see how the money which the taxpayers contribute is spent. That being so, I should certainly have thought that there would have been a tone of moderation, at any rate, assumed by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen), in accordance with the usual method of behaviour which has been the usage and custom with right hon. Gentlemen who are at the head of affairs; and that the right hon. Gentleman would have respected the assurances which he received from this side of the House—that if the Supplementary Vote were taken upon Thursday the debate on it would be curtailed, so far as hon. Members on this side of the House were concerned, within due and proper limits.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
When the House has to decide whether it should proceed to discuss reductions of the Estimates or Coercion Bills, I think that it does better in choosing to discuss reductions in the Estimates. Therefore I do not see why, when a series of reductions of the Estimates are proposed, hon. Gentlemen ought to give way simply in order to give the Government greater time for their coming Coercion Act. As a matter of fact, the Government should recognize that the Irish Members are anxious to bring forward matters in reference to Ireland, and that they are bound to give fair hearing to the due Representatives of that country. In order to lighten the difficulties of the Government, I would make the proposition to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen), that if the Government will really not try to force this Vote through to-night, and offer to the Irish Members an opportunity to discuss their most devoted grievances, I will safely promise that, during the whole of the discussion, I will hold my tongue. I will further point out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there is a way to get out of the difficulty that would arise, if the Government did not get the money. the amount of the Vote on Account is calculated at two months. I do not see why the House should not be asked to give the Government sufficient money for four or five days, and then we would be simply in the same position with regard to the discussion as before, and the items could be carefully considered. I am very anxious about the question whether, when the Government has put off the Estimates to the last moment, they have a right to keep forcing them simply for the purpose of getting more time for the Coercion Bill. We actually meet the Government more than halfway when we offer them sufficient money to carry on their Business, and ask in return only that, at a later day, an opportunity for criticism and consideration will be afforded to the House, and that the Government should not force this Vote down the throats of the Committee in order to gain more time for coercive legislation.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I am in this difficulty—that I want to call minute attention to many matters in this Vote; and if we go on now I shall not have any opportunity of doing so with proper 1002 efficiency. Thus, there are the Votes for the Royal Palaces and Marlborough House. Now, I object to both of these in toto, and I desire to take a Division on the Vote; for I think that we ought not to pay £6,000 for the one and £500 for the other. I believe it is impossible for me to do my duty by my constituents, who are reasonable men, and object to these Votes, if the Government prevents me from taking an opportunity of doing it, for I cannot possibly place the views of my constituency before the Committee under present circumstances and conditions. There are a number of other items in this Vote which I am exceedingly desirous of having debated, for I have a very strong objection to have public money spent in many ways that it is spent. It would be utterly impossible, even if we proceeded at this time of the morning, to adequately discuss and consider matters of such large importance to the people of this country.
§ MR. DEASY (Mayo, W.)
The Government have told us that it is absolutely necessary that they should get this Vote to-night, and that they should get a grant of more than enough money to carry them over the next fortnight. But, Sir, it is a monstrous thing that for the next two months we should, practically speaking, be precluded raising questions regarding Ireland. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Akers-Douglas) has drawn attention to what he says took place in the early hours of Friday morning; but my distinct recollection of the compact is that the Vote on Account of the Civil Service Estimates was postponed in order to afford us an opportunity of discussing the whole Irish policy of the Government. It will be in the recollection of this House that my hon. Friend the Member for youth-East Cork (Mr. Hooper) sat on these Benches eight or 10 hours a few nights ago in order to secure an opportunity of raising a debate on a subject of great interest to his constituents, and of vital consequence to the people of Queenstown. Not wishing to interrupt the debate which was proceeding that evening, it was 1 o'clock before an opportunity was afforded him to speak on the question of the Haul-bowline Docks. he then put a series of questions to the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty; and although he did not then press for specific expla- 1003 nations, he surely has a right to demand an answer to his many queries. He was placed in a disadvantageous position, because he did not like to interrupt the gallant Admirals who were addressing the House on naval questions. Tonight we are placed in a like position, and for very similar reasons. Again the Admirals have occupied eight or 10 hours; and I do contend now that it is not fair and reasonable that we should now be called upon to discuss important questions. There are a number of topics which we might have discussed on the Navy Estimates, but we refrained from doing so. For instance, gunboats have been used in Ireland for the purpose of carrying troops, policemen, and bailiffs to the West and South Coasts. In regard to the Civil Service Estimates, there are a lot of questions on which we desire to have the verdict of the House of Commons. The hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) has given Notice of a discussion he intends to initiate; and it is preposterous to say that at this hour a reasonable or useful debate could take place on it. In connection with these Civil Service Estimates, we shall be able to point out that illegal grants of money have been made by Government after Government, year after year; and one of these topics alone would be sufficient to occupy the time of the House for several hours. Again, we desire to have a debate on the riots at Belfast; and I repeat it is not fair at this time of the morning to ask us to commence it. If it is a question of sitting all night, I tell hon. Members opposite that we are as much accustomed to that as they are, and perhaps at the close of an All-night Sitting they would find that we did not come off second best. So far as I can learn, there is no reason in the world why the Government should not postpone this Vote until Thursday; and I would suggest that, if necessary, there might be a Saturday Sitting to take the Report stage. If they will adopt our suggestion, they will find that we are not unreasonable.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON (Kerry, W)
Mr. Courtney, I am very anxious that we should divide. I believe, after the remarks that have been made, we shall do so. And it will moan also nothing more than that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will outvote us by a very largo majority. But 1004 my point is this. We are hero to represent the people who have elected us. I do not intend to keep the House very long; but I must say this—that it is physically impossible for people to apply themselves as they could wish to the performance of their duties if important debates are to be taken at such an unreasonable hour. I am putting my opposition to the Vote on the lowest ground possible—that of physical capability; but, as hon. Members are forcing me to do so, I will add a few words further as to my reasons for my present conduct. I consider that I have a serious and solemn duty to perform towards my constituents, and towards the country generally. I can only say that if this Vote is pressed we shall certainly persevere in discussing it; and I must add, Mr. Courtney, that up to the present it certainly cannot be stated that the obstructive talk in this House has come from these Benches. The time of the House has been occupied by hon. and gallant Admirals and hon. and gallant Generals and Captains. Does the Committee understand what it is doing? Does it understand what the right hon. Gentlemen the Leaders of the House want it to do? They have taken up the Vote, and they carry it on until they have practically exhausted the whole time of the House for discussion, and then they run a rod herring across the Vote, and want to pass the Civil Service Estimates in the scent of that red herring, and under the cover of the Naval Votes.
§ MR. LANE (Cork Co., E.)
The hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson), when he last addressed the House, stated that at the request of the Irish Members the Naval Vote was put before the Civil Service Estimates for discussion. Now, Mr. Courtney, I submit that that is not so. The hon. Gentleman, I freely admit, is a most straightforward man; and I do not think he would wilfully make a misstatement. But, Sir, I myself was deeply interested in the final seene of the night to which the hon. Gentleman referred; and my recollection is that no request was made from the Irish Benches for the Naval Estimates to be put before the Civil Service Estimates.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
I did not say that the request was made by the Irish Members. What I said 1005 was that they were put on in that order in discharge of a promise, made by the right hon. Gentleman the Loader of the House, that an opportunity should be afforded for further discussion of the Navy Votes on the item for clothing.
§ MR. LANE
I readily accept the explanation of the hon. Gentleman. What I wish the House to understand is that we are not responsible for the Civil Service Estimates being reached at so late an hour. The Government, with the best intentions possible, no doubt, have made a serious mistake; but I do not see why we should be asked to place ourselves in a ridiculously false position simply because the Government have done so. The truth is that when we are supposed by the Government and their supporters to he fagged out, they commence the discussion of an important Vote, in the hope that it will be quickly passed. I say it is simply ridiculous to ask the Irish Members to discuss the Civil Service Votes at this hour in the morning. We are not responsible for their coming on so late as half-past 3, and therefore I think we are quite justified in asking that they be adjourned.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 61; Noes 199: Majority 138.—(Div. List, No. 71.) [3.25 A.M.]
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
This question of the Naval Vote is not altogether exhausted, and is one on which there ought to be some further discussion. For my own part, I strongly object to sitting up until this totally unreasonable hour, and to discussing the Navy Estimates at such a time. Still, if we are to have a discussion, I suppose I may as well put some questions to the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton). I had intended to put them earlier in the evening, and they are certainly important questions. It may be some relief to the noble and gallant Lord the Member for East Marylebone the Junior Lord of the Admiralty (Lord Charles Beresford), if he has to sit up, to be able to turn to the subject of the Navy Estimates. The first question I wish to ask is one which I put to the Government last year. There are a great many ways of attacking in naval warfare. We 1006 all are acquainted with the gun and the torpedo; but there is another system of warfare which, it seems to me, the Government are very much neglecting, and that is the system of submarine warfare. I allude, not to submarine mines, but to submarine boats. I think I saw in the papers some time ago that the noble and gallant Lord the Member for East Marylebone went down in one of those boats. Whether this be so or not, I am of a very strong opinion that this is a very dangerous system of warfare, and one which we are totally neglecting. I would ask the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has done anything in the direction of trying the Nordenfeldt boats? I have not seen any of those boats, but I have carefully read a lecture respecting them, and I think that Mr. Nordenfeldt's system is a perfectly feasible one. I am quite aware that it is not a system of warfare which is yet entirely developed, and that it is one which is disliked by naval men. I know of one gallant officer, a Member of this House, who says that he would give no quarter to people who attacked under the water. The hon. and gallant Gentleman thinks it is quite fair to fight on the surface of the water, but that it is very wicked to do so under the surface. There is, therefore, a certain amount of prejudice against this method of warfare. I think, however, that, by the expenditure of a small amount of money—say £10,000 or £15,000—the Government might obtain some very important experiments regarding it. The last time I drew attention to this subject in the House, I was asked by a naval officer—the hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Captain Price)—whether I was aware that one of the Nordenfeldt boats had gone to the bottom? The hon. and gallant Gentleman, however, afterwards admitted to me that he did not know himself that the fact was as he suggested, but that he put the question because he thought it might be so. I have recently read of some experiments at Constantinople with Nordenfeldt boats, and I think they were tolerably successful. I may say, Sir, that I would much rather have drawn attention to this subject at a reasonable hour; but I think that if we are to continue sitting here we may as well talk sense. The second question I have to 1007 put to the Government is as to what the Admiralty are going to do with respect to the manufacture of artillery. Last year the question of naval guns came before the House, and it was stated that the Naval Authorities had arrived at the conclusion that for the future they would be responsible for their own guns. Now, I should like to obtain some information on that point. What are the Naval Authorities going to do? Are they going to set up a large arsenal of their own, or are they entering into largo contracts with Elswick, and with other large firms? I may be told that I was one of those who objected to the Admiralty manufacturing their own guns. Well, what I objected to was a system under which we should have two sets of people making guns, as I thought it would load to double expense in the matter of superintendence, as well as to divergences in the types adopted, which might be very awkward in time of war. At the same time, I should like to know whether the proposal I have referred to is to be carried into effect, or whether matters are to go on much as they did before? My own idea on the subject is that if the Admiralty do not think that they are sufficiently considered by the Ordnance Board they ought to have one Committee, and not two, to deal with the subject. You will see, Sir, that I have only spoken on scientific questions, and I have done so because there are present a good many scientific men from whom we may get information.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
Mr. Courtney, I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the action of the Admiralty in the Corea.
§ MR. MOLLOY
What I intend to do, Sir, is to go through the Correspondence which has been issued by the Admiralty, and placed in the hands of Members within the last few days, in regard to the action of our Fleet at Port Hamilton, in the Corea.
§ MR. MOLLOY
I will not dispute your ruling, Sir; but I may point out that the cost of victualling these ships is in the Vote. The action I refer to was taken by the Admiralty, and we are discussing the Admiralty Vote.
§ CAPTAIN PRICE
Mr. Courtney, I rise to Order. I beg to ask you, Sir, whether what occurred at Port Hamilton would come under this Vote?
The items in the Vote refer to the coming year, and transactions which have taken place at Port Hamilton last year cannot be discussed under them.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. FORWOOD) (Lancashire, Ormskirk)
The hon. Member is referring to the Supplementary Estimates, which have already been passed.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
There is a considerable increase in one item of this Vote—namely, that relating to the victuals and clothing of seamen and Marines; but, before drawing attention to the manner in which the contracts for these victuals are issued, I desire to say a few words on the matters introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane). I do so because I see the noble and gallant Lord the Member for East Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford) in his place, and I desire to draw his attention particularly to the situation of Haulbowline Docks. I protest against those Docks being left in their present disgraceful state. It is a crying shame and a scandal that the Haulbowline Docks, after so much money has been spent on them, should he allowed to re-main in such a condition. I do not regret that the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) has left his place, because I think that when he visits Cork Harbour he seems to have an eye only for the beauties of the view. The view is a very beautiful one; but, when tie looks at it, he keeps carefully closed that particular eye which would embrace Haulbowline Docks. The bare and naked state of those Docks realty spoils the beauty of the scene. I would appeal to the noble and gallant Lord the Member for Marylebone to say whether it would not be well that the Docks should be put into such a condition as would enable himself or any other naval commander to go there for repairs if unhappily his 1009 vessel should be disabled at any time. I may say that Cork Harbour is one of the strongest harbours in the world. Naturally, it is a strong harbour. Long before the forts which protect the entrance were built, a great Commander, of whose courage there could be no doubt, was obliged to take refuge in Cork Harbour, and we still point with pride to a small river which falls into the harbour, and which is called Drake's Pool. It was there that Admiral Drake took refuge, and when the Spaniards came in after him they failed to find him.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
I should indeed be sorry, Mr. Courtney, if you should find it necessary to accuse me of irrelevancy. What I want to point out to the noble and gallant Lord the Member for Marylebone is that Cork Harbour has been fortified in such a way as to make it impossible for any enemy to reach the Haulbowline Docks whilst the forts are armed with their present big guns. The erection of the forts has had such an effect upon the Docks as to make thorn perfectly safe for the building or repairing of vessels. It would, therefore, be for the interest of the Public Service if the Department to which the noble and gallant Lord belongs would ask for such additional supplies as would enable it to put the Docks in such a condition that they would be available in time of war for the repair of disabled vessels. I think it is perfectly disgraceful to the Public Service that those Docks should have been in course of erection for as many as 22 years. Only a small sum of money is asked for this year in respect of the Docks. Last year money was granted for the purpose of building an engine-shed and obtaining machinery; but the shed has not yet been built and the machinery has not yet arrived at the Docks. Indeed, nothing has been done by the Department which proves the least desire on the part of the Naval Authorities to make the Docks what they should be—a credit to the Department and an advantage to the State. I believe that there is some difficulty in the way. The noble and gallant Lord thinks, perhaps, that Haulbowline can scarcely be available as a naval station. 1010 It seems contrary to common sense, however, that any man of experience can think so. Surely a harbour that has in the past played such an important part in the protection of the Navy of these countries can still be used for that purpose. It seems only reasonable to suppose that the further use of that harbour would be for the advantage of the Public Service. I should be glad if the noble and gallant Lord is able to give me such an answer as will relieve my mind from the distress I always feel when I look at these unfinished Docks. It has been pointed out already that my country contributes largely to the Imperial Exchequer for the construction and maintenance of the Navy, and that only a very small portion of the funds so provided are devoted to naval construction and to naval matters in Ireland. I leave it to the noble and gallant Lord to justify the lamentable negligence of the Admiralty Department in regard to the Haulbowline Docks. I am particularly anxious that the Docks should be completed at an early date, for I believe that we Irishmen shall soon have a greater interest in the construction and maintenance of the Navy than we have cared to evince in the past, and nothing would give us greater pleasure than to have these Docks completed and contributing to the defence of the common Empire in which we all hope to take such an increased interest after certain events have transpired. And now I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to a matter of comparatively minor importance. I find in the Estimates that there is an increase of £27,600, caused principally, I understand, by the additional prices for victualling, for stores, and so forth. Now, I believe it is a wrong principle to go outside the country for the food supplies of the Navy. If in time of war your foreign food supplies are cut off, you will find that you have allowed those sources of supply to perish that would have afforded you an ample supply. It should be the policy of the Naval Authorities to encourage the home trade as much as possible. The experience of the Crimean Campaign would illustrate my meaning when I 6eek to impress on the Government the necessity of having in a flourishing, capable condition those institutions and firms in the country capable of supplying the needs of the 1011 Navy. It is the custom of the Navy to send to Denmark for their mess pork. We do not know what political combinations may be brought about; but we may imagine a war between this country and a State with which Denmark is allied, and then we should be deprived of this source of supply, and we should be compelled to rely on home supply, which would be found as unsatisfactory as it was in the Crimean War. The manner in which the meat was made up and its quality was a source of reproach then, and has continued so since. It was found, too, that the trades not having been encouraged by Government orders, they had not the necessary machinery and appliances, and broke down under the unaccustomed strain; they could not execute the orders they received from the Army and Navy. Only a short time since a large quantity of pork in casks was found among the stores at Haulbowline, and it had evidently lain there ever since the time of the Crimean War—a disgraceful thing reflecting anything but credit on the management of a great Department, which at the same time neglected institutions that could serve them well in time of war, sending money out of the country, while the trade at home languished. Because of a small advance in price I hold that such a policy is a false economy. There are tradesmen anxious to contract for this class of supplies. Only recently I was speaking to the manager of a large firm in the South of Ireland, and he told me that he could not think of tendering for Navy contracts, because of the vexatious conditions in the form of contract that contractors were obliged to sign—conditions that restrict the meat supply to one class of animal. But foreign contractors were free from those conditions, and made up their meat supply in such a manner as to deceive the experts. Now, regulations of this kind should be swept away or stringently enforced. If the examination of supplies were strictly performed, it would be found that a considerable quantity of contraband meat is imported, made up by foreign tradesmen whose deftness almost equalled their dishonesty. For mess pork there is no need to go beyond Ireland; Irish pork having a world-wide fame. Ireland might be said to be the home of the pig; it is indigenous to the soil. The animal is the 1012 friend of the family; he pays the rent, the taxes too, and I have no doubt his resources, if called upon, would be equal to supplying the British Fleet. There is no need to go beyond Ireland for these contracts, and I cannot believe that when the matter comes before the Admiralty Board this grievance will be disregarded. There is a peculiar knack among Admiralty officials of clinging tenaciously to old practices, bad though they may be, and this though, year after year, attention might be drawn in the House to these malpractices. I hope the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty will take some notice of these matters, which I have brought forward without any desire to waste the time of the Committee. Honestly, I have never spoken a word in Committee, and I have always manifested a desire to fortify myself with the Votes. There is no reason why Queenstown should not become an important naval station, after works have proceeded for the past 22 years. The day may arrive when the Admiralty will regret this neglect, and the noble Lord should take the matter into his serious consideration and signalize his entry into Office by a work of which he might well be proud.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
When I see stretched before me the recumbent forms of so many sleeping Ministers, I doubt the advisability of bringing any more matters before the attention of the Committee; but we are bound not to waste the time of the Committee, and as I have not been permitted at an earlier hour of mentioning one or two questions I will take the opportunity of making the reference now. The hon. Member for Devon-port (Mr. Puleston) alluded to the cheapness of Dockyard as distinguished from contract building; and if I refer to that for a moment, it is with a view of calling the attention of the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty—who has everything connected with the Admiralty at his linger ends—to another matter in which it might be advantageous to give to the Dockyards work now undertaken by contractors. I allude to the breaking up of old vessels. The noble and gallant Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord Charles Beresford) prides himself on being the most destructive Lord of the Admiralty the country has ever seen; for he asks for the 1013 destruction of I do not know how many different vessels of the Fleet at present scattered over the face of the seas. Now, I should like to know whether the noble Lord judges it would be cheaper that these vessels should be sold to contractors to be broken up, or whether it would be cheaper to break them up in the Dockyards? I refer to specific instances to illustrate what I mean. Recently, in the Hamoaze I saw a number of old unarmoured vessels which I was given to understand had been sold to contractors to be broken up. Now, at the same time when these vessels were being thus disposed of, men were being discharged from the Dockyard by the present Government because there was not work for them to do. I put it, therefore, to the noble Lord—if the contractors find they can make a profit by buying and breaking up old vessels, could not the Government make the same or more profit by having such vessels broken up in the Dockyards, selling or using the old materials? It seems to me that the profit in the business might as well be in the pockets of the nation as in those of contractors, and especially when the want of employment has led to the discharge of Dockyard workmen, and a consequent addition to the distress for want of employment. There is, too, another point in connection with the matter I have referred to. We are very much exercised now as to what is to be done to relieve the excessively congested districts in some parts of Ireland; and though it may seem an extraordinary non sequitur to connect this with the old ships of the Navy, I venture to suggest would it not be possible to send some of these old vessels, no longer fit for sea service, to the fiords and estuaries of Great Britain and Ireland, to afford some means of exciting the interest of the unfortunate youth in congested agricultural districts, and perhaps encouraging some of them to seek a sphere of employment beyond the land that will not support them, taking them from the small holdings for which by farming industry they cannot pay rent? It seems to me here is some assistance towards the solution of a difficulty which Her Majesty's Government—when they have got coercion out of their mind—might well take into consideration. These vessels would be useful to the people, as teaching them something about the Naval Service, and 1014 you might form small naval establishments thereon with results beneficial to the nation and the unfortunate inhabitants of congested districts. Another question I should like to ask has reference to a couple of small vessels which, during last autumn, I saw building in a private yard at Falmouth. I should like to know what has become of them? When I saw them I had some conversation with the superintendent of the yard, and I learned that the lines upon which the vessels were laid down had been altered several times, and it was considered probable that more orders and countermands would be received. The vessels were ordered by the penultimate Board of Admiralty in the previous year—I do not know whether it was necessary to produce a favourable impression in Falmouth in view of a General Election—and I understand these vessels are not yet completed, after having gone through such a variety of changes that the builders scarcely know what to make of them. I have nothing to say for or against the necessity of building these vessels, or of the propriety of ordering them at this particular yard; but it is very desirable that when a vessel is ordered we should endeavour to make a good job of the business, which appears to me an impossibility when the plans are changed almost every other week. Having put these observations before the Committee on matters I should have liked to have touched upon earlier, I should now like to bring before the Committee another matter. We are well aware that a Commission is at present inquiring into the question of those scandals that have arisen in connection with the supply of stores—it is called, I believe, the Ordnance Inquiry Commission. At the head of that Commission is a distinguished Judge—Sir James Fitzjames Stephen—and what has happened in this inquiry should, I think, have the notice of the Committee and the Government. There is a gallant officer—Major Arnott—who has been chiefly instrumental in procuring inquiry into various allegations. He has been treated with anything but fairness by the Head of that Commission, Sir James Stephen—almost with a want of courtesy. I do not dwell on that; I only want the Committee to understand how this inquiry, which is of vital importance to officials at the head of Departments 1015 and all who desire that the Service should be supplied with cartridges that do not jam, and bayonets that do not buckle up, and to keep contractors from preying on the innocence of Government Inspectors, is conducted. It is most essential that an inquiry of this kind should be conducted with every desire and every effort to reach the guilty parties, and where there are such to put a stop to abuses. Major Arnott says, in a letter he has published, that Sir James Stephen——
I must point out to the hon. Member it is rather an abuse of the proceedings of the Committee to question the conduct of a Commission still sitting.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I do not wish to do anything that is unfair; my real object is to draw attention to the published letter of this gentleman. I thought I should not have been out of Order, because Sir James Stephen is acting not as a Judge, but as Head of a Commission. I will only ask the noble Lord, and those who take an interest in the subject, to see for themselves what are the allegations made by Major Arnott, and to consider whether, from the point of view I have taken, and having in view the stress laid upon this matter by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, if anything has been going wrong every effort should be made to track out the offenders, and no endeavour should be permitted by anyone, however elevated, to prevent that being done. These are the more important matters among those I wished to bring forward at the earliest opportunity that presented itself. Some other questions I may touch upon later, but they concern a humbler class of individuals—the unfortunate hard-working men in the lower ranks of the Navy who have no opportunity of speaking for themselves, and have few friends to speak for them; but it would be better to follow the example of others, and wait for the return of representatives of the Press to the Gallery.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I should certainly have spoken in detail before if I thought that the Business would be going on. But now, as Business appears to be proceeding, I should be wanting in my duty as a Member of this House if I did not—and I should 1016 very much like to do so—call attention to at least three different sets of facts which are all important in connection with the Vote at present before us. The first point which I shall bring under the notice of hon. Members is in regard to the Naval Medical Service clustering around which there are a number of abuses which give such strong ground of grievances that they merit the careful consideration of the House. In going into the history of that Service——.
§ DR. TANNER
I was not, Sir, going to specifically apply my remarks to the Naval Medical Service; but I was merely going to explain in a general way the causes of the discontent of the medical officers in that Service, and—["Order!" "Question!"] Then, Sir, I shall simply proceed now to the Haulbowline affair, about which I shall adduce some important facts or series of facts. I cannot help wondering, Sir, at the immense amount of ignorance which is displayed by officials who are placed in important positions; and in particular relation to this subject I think that no one can fail to be struck in regard to these docks or prospective docks at Haulbowline with the large amount of ignorance on necessary matters on the part of the Admiralty officials of the present Government. I took the trouble when I was last in Cork to visit these docks, and I found very great difficulty indeed in getting round to see them, because the officials there appear to be conserving the secrets of the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton). You have in this Dockyard a large floating dock, an outer dock, and one dry dock, which is simply but the last monument of naval incapacity in dealing with practical matters. This naval dock has been dug out at the right-hand side of the floating clock. It was originally intended that a second dock should have been constructed; but this was the manner in which that was done. Practically, the workmen were directed to excavate the wrong dock first. One of the sites at their disposal could easily be excavated, because it was muddy; but the other site was a portion of an island known as "Rat Island," and they actually wont and blasted out the rock, and loft the interspaces on these rocks, which made the leaks of which so much 1017 was heard about in the course of the last Session of Parliament. But, in order to show further the lamentable ignorance and incapacity of the authorities in choosing this right-hand site for a dock, I may mention that they ran it close to the deep water, and, of course, the running water in the deep channel filtered through into the dock, and caused most of the trouble complained of. Now, the authorities are trying to mend their hand with the same damaging incompetency. As yet they have not finished the stone fastening of the floating dock, which is left very incomplete, and the reason given for this neglect was because that it was intended to go on with the construction of a second dock. And, again, now we hear that there is a new development, and that this is not their purpose at all; but that they are going to discharge from employment all the hands whom they have hitherto utilized in connection with the construction of these Docks. The authorities, I insist, are acting in ignorance, and in a wilful way which I do not think they will find the country able to endorse. They are discharging their hands without haying completed the channel, and they have directed that a great deal of the work——
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I rise to Order, Sir. I beg to move "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put accordingly, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 207; Noes 54: Majority 153. [5.40. A.M.]1019
|Addison, J. E. W.||Bentinck, Lord H. C.|
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.||Beresford, Lord C. W. De la Poer|
|Ainslie, W. G.|
|Ambrose, W.||Bethell, Commander G. R.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.|
|Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L.||Birkbeck, Sir E.|
|Blundell, Col. H. B. H.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Bond, G. H.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Bonsor, H. C. O.|
|Baden-Powell, G. S.||Boord, T. W.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Borthwick, Sir A.|
|Baird, J. G. A.||Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.|
|Balfour, G. W.|
|Barry, A. H. Smith.||Brookfield, Col. A. M.|
|Bates, Sir E.||Brooks, Sir W. C.|
|Baumann, A. A.||Bruce, Lord H.|
|Beadel, W. J.||Burghley, Lord|
|Beckett, W.||Caldwell, J.|
|Bective, Earl of||Campbell, Sir A.|
|Chamberlain, R.||Heath, A. R.|
|Chaplin, right hon. H.||Heaton, J. H.|
|Charrington, S.||Hermon-Hodge, R. T.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Hervey, Lord F.|
|Cochrane-Baillie, hon. C. W. A. N.||Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.|
|Coddington, W.||Hill, Colonel E. S.|
|Coghill, D. H.||Hoare, S.|
|Colomb, Capt, J. C. R.||Holland, rt. hon. Sir H. T.|
|Commerell, Adml. Sir J. E.|
|Corbett, A. C.||Holmes, rt. hon. H.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.||Howorth, H. H.|
|Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.||Hozier, J. H. C.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hubbard, E.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Hughes, Colonel E.|
|Curzon, hon. G. N.||Hughes-Hallett, Col. F. C.|
|Davenport, H. T.||Hunt, F. S.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Isaacson, F. W.|
|De Cobain, E. S. W.||Jackson, W. L.|
|De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.||Jarvis, A. W.|
|De Worms. Baron H.||Johnston, W.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.||Kelly, J. R.|
|Dorington, Sir J. E.||Kerans, F. H.|
|Duncan, Colonel F.||Kimber, H.|
|Duncombe, A.||Knowles, L,|
|Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H.||Lafone, A.|
|Laurie, Colonel R. P.|
|Edwards-Moss, T. C.||Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.|
|Egerton, hon. A. de T.||Lewisham, right hon. Viscount|
|Ellis, Sir J. W.||Llewellyn, E. H.|
|Elton, C. I.||Long, W. H.|
|Evelyn, W. J.||Lowther, J. W.|
|Eyre, Colonel H.||Macartney, W. G. E.|
|Fellowes, W. H.||Macdonald, rt. hon. J. H. A.|
|Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.|
|Maclean, J. M.|
|Field, Admiral E.||Maclure, J. W.|
|Fisher, W. H.||M'Calmont, Captain J.|
|Fitzgerald, R. U. P.||M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J. M.|
|Fitz-Wygram, General Sir F. W.|
|Malcolm, Col. J. W.|
|Folkestone, right hon. Viscount||Marriott, rt, hn. W. T.|
|Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story.|
|Forwood, A. B.|
|Fowler, Sir R. N.||Matthews, rt. hon. H.|
|Fraser, General C. C.||Maxwell, Sir H. E.|
|Gardner, R. Richardson.||Mayne, Adml. R. C.|
|Mills, hon. C. W.|
|Gedge, S.||Morrison, W.|
|Gent-Davis, R.||Mount, W. G.|
|Gibson, J. G.||Mowbray, R. G. C.|
|Giles, A.||Mulholland, H. L.|
|Gilliat, J. S.||Muncaster, Lord|
|Godson, A. F.||Muntz, P. A.|
|Goldsworthy, Major General W. T.||Noble, W.|
|Northcote, hon. H. S.|
|Gorst, Sir J. E.||Norton, R.|
|Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.||O'Neill, hon. R. T.|
|Gray, C. W.||Paget, Sir R. H.|
|Green. Sir E.||Parker, hon. F.|
|Grotrian, F. B.||Pelly, Sir L.|
|Gunter, Colonel R.||Penton, Captain F. T.|
|Hall, C.||Plowden, Sir W. C.|
|Halsey, T. F.||Plunket, right hon. D. R.|
|Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.|
|Plunkett, hon. J. W.|
|Hamilton, Lord E.||Pomfret, W. P.|
|Hamilton, Col. C. E.||Powell, F. S.|
|Hankey, F. A.||Price, Captain G. E.|
|Hardcastle, F.||Puleston, J. H.|
|Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.||Thorburn, W.|
|Rankin, J.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Rasch, Major F. C.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Reed, H. B.||Tottenham, A. L.|
|Ridley, Sir M. W.||Townsend, F.|
|Ritchie, rt. hon. C. T.||Trotter, H. J.|
|Robertson, J. P. B.||Walsh, hon. A. H. J.|
|Ross, A. H.||Waring, Colonel T.|
|Round, J.||Webster, Sir R. E.|
|Royden, T. B.||Webster, R. G.|
|Russell, Sir G.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Russell, T. W.||Wharton, J. L.|
|Saunderson, Col. E. J.||White, J. B.|
|Seton-Karr, H.||Whitley, E.|
|Shaw-Stewart, M. H.||Whitmore, C. A.|
|Sidebotham, J. W.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Sidebottom, W.||Wood, N.|
|Smith, rt. hon. W. H.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart.|
|Stanhope, rt. hon. E.||Wright, H. S.|
|Stewart, M. J.||Young, C. E. B.|
|Talbot, J. G.||TELLERS.|
|Tapling, T. K.||Douglas, A. Akers.|
|Temple, Sir R.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Acland, A. H. D.||M'Donald, P.|
|Blane, A.||Molloy, B. C.|
|Cameron, C.||Nolan, Colonel J. P.|
|Campbell, H.||Nolan, J.|
|Carew, J. L.||O'Brien, J. F. X.|
|Chance, P. A.||O'Brien, P.|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.||O'Brien, P. J.|
|Cobb, H. P.||O'Connor, A.|
|Connolly, L.||O'Connor, J. (Tippry.)|
|Conway, M.||O'Connor, T. P.|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||O'Doherty, J. E.|
|Cossham, H.||O'Kelly, J.|
|Craig, J.||Pinkerton, J.|
|Dillon, J.||Provand, A. D.|
|Ellis, T. E.||Quinn, T.|
|Fenwick, C.||Russell, E. R.|
|Flynn, J. C.||Sexton, T.|
|Fox, Dr. J. F.||Stack, J.|
|Gill, T. P.||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|Harrington, E.||Stuart, J.|
|Hayden, L. P.||Swinburne, Sir J.|
|Hayne, C. Seale.||Tanner, C. K.|
|Hooper, J.||Tuite, J.|
|Hunter, W. A.||Wallace, R.|
|Kenny, M. J.||Wilson, H. J.|
|Lane, W. J.||TELLERS.|
|MacNeill, J. G. S.||Deasy, J.|
|M'Cartan, M.||Sheil, E.|
§ Original Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 210; Noes 52: Majority 158.—(Div. List. No. 73.)