§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is the fact that in September, 1886, the list of Service guns consisted of not less than 147 sorts of guns, of which 69 sorts were used in the Navy; whether each of these, except only some five or six, required separate ammunition; whether in a large number of cases, and especially in the case of guns of the modern breech-loading system then coming into use in the Navy, the difference between such guns was small, and the danger arising from mistakes as to the supply of ammunition to guns of so many sorts thereby further increased; whether this great variety of Service guns has been increased or diminished since that date, and to what extent; and, who is the official to whom responsibility would attach, in respect of guns ordered during (say) the last five years, should this variety of guns requiring separate ammunition prove detrimental to the Public Service?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
These numbers may be taken as practically correct, if every variety and mark of the same calibres of ordnance be included. The majority of smooth-bore guns are, however, practically obsolete, and are used merely for drill and saluting purposes. Others are converted as opportunity arises to later patterns, to take in some cases the same ammunition as that of other guns now in the Service. As a rule, each nature, in contradistinction to variety or mark, requires its own charge and projectile; but some charges 1385 and some projectiles are common to more than one nature. Some difference of charge arises from the fact that the first guns of a particular calibre may not be so strong as after certain improvements—such as chase hooping, for instance—they become. Every endeavour is made to make all guns of the same nature take the same ammunition; and as opportunity arises guns of early make are strengthened up to the same power as those of later design. The difference between calibres of guns was formerly smaller than with the new breech-loading system; and it is now so great that the risk of danger arising from supply of wrong ammunition is less than formerly. The variety of Service guns has been reduced. Whereas there were 20 different calibres or rifled muzzle-loading guns varying from 2.5 inches to 17.72 inches, there are now only 11 calibres of breech-loading guns varying from 3 inches to 16.25 inches.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, his Question as to who was responsible for the great variety of guns had not been answered.
§ SIR WILLIAM PLOWDEN (Wolverhampton, W.)
Is it the fact that the guns of the Pembroke have no ammunition?