§ 1. £2,684,000, Shipbuilding, Repairs, Maintenance, Etc.—Personnel.
§ *THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. ARNOLD-FORSTER, Belfast, W.)
I ask leave to rise at this stage of the proceedings as I have a statement to make on the Vote, which may shorten discussion. There are several points in which hon. Members are interested with regard to the personnel of the dockyards. One matter which has on many previous occasions led to considerable discussion in this House has reference to the rate of wages paid to the dockyard labourers. The history of the existing rate of wages 468 is well known to Members of the House. The difficulty arose owing to a change in the wages of the War Office labourers at Woolwich Arsenal. At Woolwich there were labourers in the employment of the Admiralty working side by side with those employed by the War Office and receiving 1s. a week less. As that anomaly could not continue, the labourers of the Admiralty at Woolwich were paid the same wages as those of the War Office. But that led to another anomaly. The workmen at Deptford, which is nearer to London, were then receiving a lower rate of wages than the men at Woolwich. At first, in view of what was the current rate of wages, the Admiralty did not see their way to make the alteration desired by many hon. Members, and to give an extra shilling to the Deptford labourers. There were two grounds. In the first place, they were not clear that the concession was demanded by the state of the labour market, and, further, they were not at that time, in view of the rate of wages prevailing, prepared to accept the natural consequence of any alteration in the Deptford wages, and of adding to the wages of the labourers in all the Government dockyards. But the matter has now been carefully considered, the rates of wages prevailing in other parts of the country and in London have been examined, and it has been decided to concede an extra shilling a week to the labourers at Deptford. As a necessary corollary, a similar rise will be given to the labourers in all the Admiralty dockyards. I speak of this as a necessary corollary, because as hon. Members are aware, the principle has already been admitted that there is a distinction between the rate of wages in London and the rate in the provinces. That distinction in respect to labourers is held to be represented by the sum of 469 a shilling. Therefore it would be impossible, in the face of the recommendation—which was the recommendation of a strong Committee—to give the increase at Deptford and not give it to the labourers in the other dockyards.
The next point I wish to say a word about, with the view of shortening debate, is the matter of dockyard petitions. There are hon. Members who represent dockyard workers and others who have often brought before this House questions which have been pressed upon them with regard to shipwrights. The shipwrights are a most important body of men in the dockyards, and there can be no doubt that in some respects they have not hitherto been on all fours, as regards wages, with other skilled labourers who may be called approximately of the same class in the dockyards. There has existed among the shipwrights a system of classification, according to their actual or supposed professional merit, which has been recognised by a larger of smaller wage. The wage itself has not always been held to compare favourably with that of workmen of a similar class, and this has given rise to a good deal of dissatisfaction. It has now been decided to remove, as far as we can remove, that source of dissatisfaction, and we propose to abolish the classification of shipwrights and to raise the rate of pay in the following degrees:—The established shipwrights, at present receiving 32s., will receive 33s.; the hired shipwrights, at present receiving 33s. 6d., will receive 34s. 6d.; and the probationers, now receiving 31s. 6d., will receive 32s. 6d. By granting these concessions we shall give a substantial increase to by far the larger number of shipwrights. There will be a very small number who will not gain the full shilling owing to the fact that they are now receiving somewhat more than the bulk of the men with whom they work. There have been two other sources of petitions affecting another class. One has been with reference to the recorders of work. They are an important body of men, because they are entrusted with responsible functions. It is their duty to investigate the work done by their colleagues in the same or a kindred trade, and to report, for the purpose of estimating the amount of piecework earn 470 ings for the work performed. In view of the recent increase granted to charge men this responsibility was no longer adequately compensated by the wages they received, which was by an allowance of 6d. a day duty pay. Now we have raised that remuneration from 6d. to 1s. The last class to which I wish to refer are the machinists and spinners—the women engaged in the rope-works at Chatham and Deptford. A considerable class of women engaged in dockyards are those known as color-women, and they have been hitherto receiving a wage in excess of that paid to the other women engaged as machinists and spinners. Machinists and spinners have hitherto received a wage varying from 11s. to 15s. a week. It is now proposed to raise the wage to a sum varying from 13s. 6d. to 18s. a week, thus placing them on the same terms as colorwomen. These are substantial concessions, which have been desired by Members of this House, and which we are now convinced the present state of the labour market makes it reasonable for us to concede. There has been of course an enormous number of individual petitions. I have thought it my duty to peruse all of them. I am sure the Committee will not desire that I should give a reply now to individual petitions. Answers will be sent in due course to petitioners whose petitions have been acceded to.
In the matter of boilers in the ships, there has been a further readjustment since my hon. friend made his statement on the subject. I hope it is not out of order to refer to this, but I have not given to the House on other occasions lists of the ships which were to be boilered. I may say that it has been found impracticable under the rule laid down by ourselves to put new, boilers into the "Donegal," the "Cumberland," and the "Prince of Wales"; but on the other hand it has been decided to take out the existing boilers of the "Hermes."
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
We generally 471 have on first reaching the Vote for the shipbuilding yards some general discussion. I understand from you, Sir, that is not to be the case to-day.
I think that has generally been the case when Section 2 or 3 has been taken first. Possibly it will be convenient to discuss Sections 2 and 3 together, because they deal with shipbuilding and boilers. I think it would be inconvenient to discuss shipbuilding on the Vote before us.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
I do not think I need say any more now, having drawn attention to the changes we propose to make with regard to the wages of labourers.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said it was perhaps unfortunate that the Government had not followed the usual course of taking first either Section 2 or 3, on which the programme of the year could be discussed. He sincerely trusted that they might not occupy the whole evening discussing the personnel, the more so because the first matter with which his hon. friend the Secretary to the Admiralty dealt at greatest length had generally been discussed on another Vote. He had heard with pleasure of the small advance granted to the labourers at Deptford, for that had been the worst case in the whole range of labour employment by the Government. The present increase ought to have been given three or four years ago. Having no personal interest in the matter, having a constituency interested the other way, and having inquired into the circumstances, he considered that the case of Deptford and Woolwich was an extraordinarily strong case of where the pay was terribly too low. The only doubt he had in his mind in connection with the gratifying announcement which had been made was whether the men at Devonport, in view of the peculiar circumstances attendant upon living there, ought not to be put on the London scale. He believed it was as dear a place as, London for the men. He rather doubted whether the other concession would be sufficient to remove the difficulties which had stood in the way of 472 the Admiralty obtaining the services of first class shipwrights.
§ MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
said he wished to express his satisfaction that, after the long and weary campaign which had been waged on behalf of the underpaid men in the dockyards, the Admiralty had seen their way to take a step in the right direction, and to make these concessions. The Devonport case had been well known in the House. The condition of the men there was altogether different from that in any other Government yard, and he submitted that there was a case for further inquiry with the view of ascertaining whether they were entitled to the same consideration as was given to the men in the London yards. He thanked his hon. friend for what he had done, but was he to understand that the shilling concession would apply to hired hands and to skilled labourers?
§ MR. KEARLEY
said that the skilled labourers as a whole starved on a very low wage, while the ordinary labourers had the benefit of this concession.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said that the skilled labourers on regular wages were paid on an average 24s. per week, and a large number on piece work earned from 24s. to 32s. a week.
§ MR. KEARLEY
admitted that the average wage was about 24s. per week, but he maintained that the Government would not get the most desirable men so long as they were paid an unequal wage for doing the same work. He believed the Government were right in abolishing classification amongst the shipwrights, but why limit it to that one trade only? Were the joiners less concerned in this principle of classification than the shipwrights? The logical conclusion was to carry the abolition of classification to all trades. The Government could not get skilled labour in these other trades unless they paid proper wages. Lord Goschen, then 473 Mr. Goschen, promised in this House in March, 1890, that the whole conditions in regard to pay of the labourers in the Government dockyards would be revised. That promise had not been carried out, and he thought that there should be a general inquiry. Of course the conditions of labour had changed during the last ten years, and if the Government wanted to get the best skill it would be necessary to adopt the scale of wages paid to similar trades in private yards. As to the question of arrears of construction, could he raise it under the present Vote?
thought it would be more convenient to take the point of arrears of construction on the Shipbuilding Vote.
§ MR. KEARLEY
asked whether he would be in order in calling attention to some matters referred to in the Report of the Committee of Public Accounts as to the lack of expenditure of money which had been voted for shipbuilding by the House.
§ MR. ARTHUR MORTON (Deptford)
said he wished to express his acknowledgment and thanks to the Government for the concessions which the Secretary to the Admiralty had announced, and he was quite sure these would be received with great gratitude by the workmen in the dockyards.
§ MR. E. J. C. MORTON (Devonport)
desired to add his acknowledgment to the Secretary to the Admiralty for the concession he had made—a larger one than had been made since Lord Spencer was First Lord of the Admiralty. But while the hired men received a slightly higher rate of pay, they received a smaller advantage than the establishment men in the way of pension. In fact they did not receive a pension at all; they received only a bonus. The hired men constituted 75 per cent. of the whole employees of the Government, whereas thirty or forty years ago they were half. Again, an the old days the hired men were practi 474 cally only taken on for the job, and when the job was finished they expected to be dismissed. It was not out of consideration for the men that the Government now gave them practically continuous employment, but from the necessities of the Government, although the rate of wages for hired men was distinctly lower than was paid to a similar class of workmen in private yards. The real question was what was the service of these men worth. He would suggest that the Government labourers were worth sixpence an hour, as much as the labourers in private yards. It was rather an ungracious thing to look a gift horse in the mouth, but he would like the Secretary to the Admiralty to extend the same concessions which he had made to the shipwrights to other trades, particularly to the joiners, ship-riggers, store-house labourers, and others, which were very markedly paid at a lower rate than in private yards. The hon. Gentleman had got a petition from these trades before him, in which they fairly and accurately set out the rate of pay in private yards as compared with that paid in Government yards, and he would like the hon. Member to make a statement as to what he was prepared to do in regard to the other trades besides the shipwrights.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
said there was a matter of principle connected with this particular Vote on which he wished to ask a question, and to make a few observations. He referred to the naval staffs employed at the different naval stations abroad. It was almost impossible to recognise that any principle of policy was pursued as to personnel ashore on stations abroad. For example, in the days of wooden ships, and when the main colonial trade of this country was with the West Indies, Jamaica was an important station. There they now had a commodore and a commander, and altogether £4,000 a year was spent on the personnel of the naval establishment at Port Royal. But in these days of iron; steel, and steam, Jamaica could only be regarded as a very small and insignificant station. Now, at Halifax, the headquarters of this North American and West Indian fleet, there was only a civil store keeper in charge. That seemed a somewhat 475 ridiculous position. Both at Halifax and at Esquimault they should have a naval officer of superior rank in charge of the station, who could be getting all the information possible to be obtained, so as to prepare for the coming time of colonial co-operation. Again, he noticed that they were spending as much on the personnel at Jamaica as at Gibraltar. He asked the Secretary to the Admiralty to throw some light on what was the principle of general policy in regard to the distribution of the naval staffs on shore on the different stations abroad.
§ MR. DUKE (Plymouth)
said that formerly the men in the dockyards had the privilege of approaching the Lords of the Admiralty, and bringing to their notice what they regarded as their grievances as to pay and position. In recent years they had lost that privilege, but there was left to them the right of petition, and that right they had exercised. Hon. Members who came into contact with the employees in the dockyards knew that they did not exercise that right of petition without cause, as had been witnessed that night by the concessions made. But sometimes for two years together the men who had forwarded petitions to the Admiralty, setting out clearly the terms of their grievances, had got no sort of reply. He knew that that was a source of much irritation, and he thought it would be a great satisfaction to large bodies of men employed in the dockyards if, within a reasonable time after they had addressed their petitions to the Admiralty, they were informed whether anything was to be done in the matter of redressing their grievances.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said that the practice was to communicate with the men in all cases where their petitions could be acceded to. But when the large number of petitions frequently forwarded to the Admiralty, and the small points often brought up, was considered, it would be seen that it was very difficult to answer every one of them personally. The object of the concession of extra pay to the shipwrights was not to achieve the abolition of classification but to give them a 476 just pay. That had levelled up the whole of the shipwrights in a particular way, and it had practically the effect of abolishing classification; but that was not the object of the change. His hon. and gallant friend the Member for Great, Yarmouth had suggested a readjustment of the personnel on shore at the different stations abroad. During the short time he had had experience at the Admiralty he observed that the tendency was that the naval stations which were really becoming important had received additions to their personnel, and the contrary was the case with those stations which had ceased to be important. It was a matter of opinion whether this particular survival of maintaining, superior officers at Jamaica should be continued. He acknowledged that Jamaica was now of nothing like the importance it once occupied as a naval station; but it was isolated, and was still of considerable importance in relation not only to the West Indian islands, but to our colonies on the mainland of South America. He would also point out that Port Royal, Jamaica, was much further off from any foreign country than Halifax. He believed there was justice in the case of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and if his hon. and gallant, friend would assist him in the matter he would be much obliged.
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
said he had not argued so much for the reduction of the staff at Port Royal, but for increasing the naval staffs at Halifax, Simon's Bay, and Esquimault, and putting a senior officer in charge there, thereby giving them better opportunities of keeping in touch with what was going on.
§ MR. E. J. C. MORTON
said that the distinction between the hired men and the establishment men having practically ceased to exist, he wanted to know whether the Government could not give the hired men some sort of a pension after, as some of them had given, thirty years service.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed "That a sum, not exceeding £5,306,500, 477 be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of the Material for Shipbuilding Repairs, Maintenance, &c., including, the cost of Establishments of Dockyard, and Naval Yards at Home and Abroad which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1902."
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
Perhaps with the acquiescence of the House, and for the satisfaction of the hon. Member for Gateshead, I might, in continuance of the brief statement which I made in an earlier stage of the debate, say that a slight alteration will have to be made. In the statement I made to the hon. Gentleman with regard to the change of boilers in His Majesty's ships I included three ships, the "Donegal," "Cumberland," and "Prince of Wales," in which the Admiralty hoped to substitute some other type of water-tube boiler without great expense; but, having investigated the matter and approached the firms that are contracting for the propelling machinery and boilers for these ships, the Admiralty find they cannot satisfy the conditions they have imposed on themselves in making the change, and so these vessels, in order to avoid the postponement of the completion of them, which would be a most disastrous thing, have been withdrawn from the list previously given. But I am glad to say we are able to eliminate from the other list the "Hermes." As the Committee knows, the "Hermes" is a ship belonging to a class of four fitted with Belleville boilers. She is a ship with an unfortunate career, which has been animadverted upon more than once in the House. She has returned to this country in a condition which necessitated serious repairs to her boilers, and the Admiralty has now decided that instead of replacing her boilers with a reinstallation of Belleville boilers the boilers in her shall be removed and another type of boiler put in. Their policy is, I believe, to adopt the Niclausse. There will then be the opportunity for a useful and scientifically accurate experiment, the "Hyacinth" and the "Hermes" being built on the same lines, having similar engines, with the same calculated horse power. It is pro 478 posed further to alter the boilers of the "Medea" and the "Medusa."
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said he had been desired by the hon. Member for Gateshead, who was in possession when the House adjourned, to proceed with some observations which he (Mr. Robertson) desired to make upon this Vote. He proposed to take the somewhat unusual course of moving a reduction of the Shipbuilding Vote in reference to the building of the royal yacht. This vessel had a most unfortunate history. In the year 1897 the First Lord of the Admiralty came down to the House with a proposal for the construction of a new royal yacht. Exception was taken that if the yacht was to be built it should be built in such a way as to constitute an addition to the naval force of the country. The suggestion was that the example of Germany should be followed, and that she should be built on the lines of a first-class cruiser. Had that course been followed there would not have been so miserable a tale to unfold as he would unfold to-night. Had the royal yacht been built as a man-of-war, the officials with whom the building of her was entrusted would have been dealing with a subject in which they had had long experience, but that suggestion was never regarded by the Admiralty; it was received with something like derision. It really appeared as if the new Imperialism, then just coming to the front, had decreed that this new addition to the Navy List should deliberately be made useless for naval purposes. The money voted for the Navy should be expended in perfecting the efficiency of the Navy.
In the Estimates for 1897–8 there were no particulars as to the total cost of the proposed new royal yacht. A sum was taken, but Mr. Goschen was unable to give an approximate estimate of the total cost. In the following year there was an Estimate, according to which this vessel was to cost £237,000; in the next year a final Estimate was produced of £353,000; in 1900–1 the Estimate had bounded up to £434,582, and this year the total asked for by the Admiralty for this ship was over half a million. It reminded one, in a small way, of the leaps and bounds by which the 479 Estimates for the war rose. Whether this was a full and final Estimate he did not know, but he had some impression that even this £512,000 was likely to be exceeded. The increase of the Estimate for the building of this ship was a reflex of the career through which she had passed before she was fit for any service. He was unable to go into the details of the history of the royal yacht, and his motion was made for the purpose of obtaining some information. The vessel was, he believed, laid down in December, 1897, in the Pembroke Dockyard, and he believed her engines and boilers were put on board while she was in dry dock in Pembroke Dockyard, but, at all events, directly they were put on board and the vessel launched, the vessel capsized in dock, and she had been in the hands of the dockyard ever since. How nearly she might now be fit for service was not within his knowledge. One minor detail to which he would draw attention because it deserved consideration was that the wood employed in her construction was what was called non-inflammable; what device was used to make it so he did not know, but it was a total failure, and moisture was continually oozing from the wood, and some process had to be adopted to take out the moisture which had been pressed into it to render it non-inflammable. He drew attention to that point because it was a new experiment that was made upon a vessel to be constructed for the use of the Sovereign, and which the Government had refused to make useful for the Navy, and apparently had made useless for the purpose for which it was designed to serve, and no experiments ought, in his opinion, to be made upon such a vessel. So far as he had been able to mention the facts they were not such as to reflect credit upon the Dockyard authorities responsible.
The two gentlemen responsible for the Vote were, of course, perfectly free from all responsibility, and he had not the least intention of fixing upon them any responsibility for what had taken place in the past, not did he, in making the request he was about to make, intend to blame anybody, because he did not know enough about the history of the vessel, or who was to blame for the blunders; who was responsible for the thing going wrong 480 he could not say, except the Admiralty as a whole. The blame that attached to the Admiralty attached to it on the ground that the vessel ought to have been built on the lines of a man-of-war, and that, if not, she should have been constructed by persons who had had some experience of that class of work. What he wanted the hon. Gentleman to do was to give some explanation of the present position of the yacht, and say what more required to be done, if anything, and generally to fill in the sketch which he had made, and tell the House something more about it than any hon. Member could pretend to know.
His second request was of a more serious and novel character, and it was because of its novelty that he took the responsibility of moving the reduction. He desired to ask the hon. Gentlemen representing the Admiralty if he would promise on behalf of the Admiralty an independent inquiry into the position of the vessel, such as would satisfy the conscience of the House and the country. They were in the presence of a new problem in the control of the Admiralty; the House of Commons had voted freely and readily vast sums of money for the construction of a vessel of a particular type, for a particular purpose. That vessel had been a complete failure, but never before had the House considered the question of what they were to do when they found that the purposes for which they had voted money had not been fulfilled; that a work which they had authorised had not been done, or, if it had, had been done in such a manner as to show no result. There had been a good deal of talk about the application of business principles to these matters, and he suggested that, in addition to the Committee on Public Accounts, there ought to be another Committee to sit upon the Estimates from an administrative point of view. The House authorised beforehand certain money to be spent in a certain way. If it was not done, what remedy had they? Absolutely none. The Public Accounts Committee was the greatest and most important Committee which sat, but its jurisdiction was limited to matters of account, and if it trespassed beyond matters of account, the Department whose accounts it was dealing with had the answer that this 481 was a matter of administration, and with administration the Public Accounts Committee had nothing whatever to do. Notwithstanding that, the Public Accounts Committee had pronounced an opinion upon this maladministration, and they desired to call attention to the fact of the expenditure on the new royal yacht, which, up to the end of the financial year, had exceeded the amount of the Estimate by £37,000. The Committee then say—As this excess is said to be mainly due to inexperience in building ships of this kind, the Committee are of opinion that work of this character should not in future be undertaken in His Majesty's dockyards.Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present—
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (continuing) said
The passage I have read states that this excess "is said" to be due to inexperience. Said to whom? Said by whom? The evidence laid before the Public Accounts Committee has not yet been printed, but I am told by members of the Committee that this statement was made by way of defence by the officials responsible. That certainly was the main contention when this matter was first considered, and I think that I am justified in demanding not only such explanation as can be given now, but also, which is still more important, that in view of the exceptional circumstances of the case and the discredit which this work casts upon the dockyards, we should have a special inquiry into this matter. For obvious reasons it cannot be a departmental inquiry. The Department itself is involved, and no Departmental Committee or Committee appointed by the Department can possibly satisfy the conscience of the House or of the country. If there is at all a real financial conscience in the country, I believe it will approve the demand I am making for an inquiry into this grave administrative scandal, for there must have been not only profligate expenditure but incompetent administration. In the face of these facts, and in the absence of any means whatever for placing the responsibility or of tracing the whole history of this disastrous blunder, I ask the hon. 482 Gentleman to promise that the matter shall be made the subject of a special inquiry—preferably by a Select Committee of this House. We who vote the money are bound to tell our constituents whether it has been properly expended, and for the purposes of such an inquiry there are upon both sides of the House Members who are familiar with engineering and shipbuilding, and in whom we should have every confidence. In order to enforce my recommendation I beg formally to move the reduction of this Vote by £1,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £5,305,500, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Edmund Robertson.)
§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY (Yorkshire, Shipley)
said the occasion of the demand so powerfully made by the hon. Member for Dundee for a special inquiry was that the royal yacht was designed in the Admiralty, and that its cost had exceeded the first estimate by about 100 per cent. The facts were comparatively simple. The yacht was designed mainly for the use of the Head of the State. The hon. Member opposite had said that, like the "Hohenzollern," the yacht should have been so constructed as to be available for the purposes of both warfare and pleasure. But Mr. Goschen, when introducing the Estimate for the yacht, stated that it was the intention of the designer that the vessel should be capable of as much of the offensive and defensive power of a cruiser and a scout as was compatible with the pleasure and official purposes for which it was designed, but that its primary purpose was that of a means of conveyance for the Sovereign. The only criticism of detail brought forward by the hon. Member on the question of its defensive and offensive powers was with regard to the use of non-inflammable wood. But the very object with which this wood was fitted was that of defence—to prevent the vessel taking fire in time of action. It was complained that a mistake had been made in the calculation as to the stability of the yacht. The vessel fulfilled all the intentions of the designer except in this one point. Was this the only 483 instance in which a mistake had been made in calculations in regard to ships? There was not a shipbuilding yard throughout the country in which from time to time mistakes had not been made. In this instance the mistake was discovered in a theatrical manner, thereby attracting a large amount of public attention. The Admiralty had designed a very large number of vessels during the last twenty years, and the percentage of errors of calculation had been exceedingly small. A year or eighteen months ago a Departmental Committee was set up to inquire upon whom the responsibility rested for this particular mistake. No statement had ever been made to the House as to the Report of that Committee, and before he could consent to the proposal for a Select Committee he would respectfully invite the Secretary to the Admiralty to take the Committee into his confidence and state what was the result of that Departmental inquiry. If the result had been, as he anticipated, to exonerate the Director of Naval Construction, and to place the responsibility upon some other official, he felt sure that even the hon. Member for Gateshead would be pleased to find that the fault did not lie with an officer who had designed some 160 or 200 ships of various classes for His Majesty's Government, and who had had so large a responsibility and so overpowering an amount of work. Another point of considerable importance was as to the Admiralty not having acted upon the recommendations of its own Committee as regarded boilers.
§ MR. KEARLEY
asked, on a point of order, whether the discussion ought not to be confined to the question of the royal yacht.
The hon. Member for Dundee has moved this reduction with a view to raising the question of H.M.S. "Victoria and Albert," and that alone. After that has been disposed of it will still be open to the hon. Member to discuss other questions.
§ *MR. WILLIAM ALLAN (Gateshead)
was surprised at the line taken by the hon. Member for the Shipley Division. The hon. Member was a clever engineer and shipbuilder, and the views he had expressed were not at all in keeping with his business ability and shrewdness. He hoped the Secretary to the Admiralty would get to the bottom of this matter of the royal yacht. What a pitiable story it was; what a satire upon our modern engineering and shipbuilding ability. First of all, £200,000 was voted for the vessel. That was enough to build a most palatial yacht at Denny's, Fairfield, or any other yard. Every year since the catastrophe to the royal yacht she had been running up hundreds of thousands of pounds, until now there was an amount of £520,000 put against her, and, in his opinion, there would be more yet. That amount would be far exceeded, and it was the duty of the Committee to demand from the Department an explanation of where the money had gone to and who had been to blame for this tremendous blunder. This was not a personal matter with him; it was a national matter. If there was a Government official in any Department who spent the nation's money helter-skelter in this way, who produced an article which was not genuine or not built on scientific lines, no matter whether it was a gun or a steamer, it was the duty of the Committee to inquire into the matter. The yacht had been neither more nor less than a simple experiment, and he exonerated no man, whoever he might be, for making so flagrant an experiment and so flagrant a blunder. It would not do to tell the Committee that some under-strapper was to blame. If his firm made an engine that broke down, he, as the head of the concern, and not his foreman or anyone else, was to blame and had to take the responsibility. The matter must be probed to the bottom, so that the Committee and the country might know who was to blame for the design of the yacht and for all this additional expenditure. It was said that the chief constructor had designed 150 or 200 ships. That might be, but he was afraid that they also, like the royal yacht, were designed far too fine. These modern, fashionable, fine-line cruisers could not 485 carry the guns; they were all under-gunned, and simply because they were built on too fine lines.
§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY
asked if the hon. Member would state which of the cruisers were under-gunned, and to what extent.
§ *MR. WILLIAM ALLAN
was quite prepared to take up the challenge. The much-lauded "Powerful" had a displacement of 14,200 tons, and the total weight of metal or shot discharged in one round from her guns was 1,960 lbs. whereas a Japanese vessel, the "Asama," built by Armstrong's—
§ *MR. WILLIAM ALLAN
I beg pardon, That boat could steam 21 knots day in and day out, and she was fitted with ordinary boilers. The total weight of metal discharged by this cruiser was 2,400 lbs., while the much-lauded "Powerful" could only discharge 1,960 lbs. of metal in one round.
§ *MR. WILLIAM ALLAN
said the same weakness or fault which had existed in the royal yacht—namely, that she was too fine a ship to carry any top weight—was exactly the same with the new cruisers built lately, and that was why they were under-gunned and could not bear top weight. Parliament ought to know who was to blame for this scandalous waste of public money. He appealed to the House to support the reduction of the Vote.
THE EARL OF DALKEITH (Roxburgh)
said there was a good deal in what the hon. Member had said in regard to the line of the royal yacht being too fine. There was no doubt that the failure of the royal yacht had caused a good deal of anxiety in the country. For this 486 reason he thought the question ought to be thoroughly gone into, although he did not think a Committee of the House of Commons was the best committee of inquiry to go into the matter. As regarded the royal yacht, he agreed with what had been said by the Member for the Shipley Division, that if one was to be made it was better that it should be constructed primarily to be a royal yacht worthy of the Sovereign of this country. He thought that all practical men would agree that it was impossible to make a satisfactory combination of a thoroughly good yacht and a warship of any kind. If the Admiralty had to undertake—as was not at all unlikely—the building of a new royal yacht, he hoped they would confine themselves to building a yacht, and not something intended to be half a yacht and half a cruiser. He agreed that it was a great mistake that this yacht should have been built in a royal dockyard at all, and it should not have been designed by an Admiralty official. It would have been far better if the yacht had been designed and constructed by one of the many private firms which were familiar with that class of work, and who had been able to produce better work in that respect than any other country in the world. He hoped the Admiralty would acknowledge that the royal yacht was a failure, and that they would ask the House to provide a yacht suitable for the Sovereign, and that this yacht, which had not the coaling capacity for a long voyage at a high rate of speed, and drew too much water for the ordinary purposes of a yacht, might be used for a hospital ship in the Mediterranean or for some other purpose for which a high rate of speed was not required. He hoped the Admiralty would use it for something of that kind, and ask the House to vote money for a new yacht such as would be suitable for the Sovereign of this country, instead of one which was at present a laughing-stock.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
I think there is, after all, a great deal about this question upon which there can be no difference of opinion at all. There has been a great miscalculation, great over-expenditure; in fact, a great deal to be regretted. But the question is, what is the practical thing to be done now.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
That is not my point. Now what is the extent of this miscalculation? It has been stated to be something like 100 per cent. upon the original Estimate. I must correct that statement. To a certain extent, to a considerable extent, the additional expense we are now asking for is due to another cause. There has been a contributory cause, which, I think, is not likely to be discussed, and of the effect of which we are not likely to complain. The fact that this yacht was constructed and designed for the use of her late Majesty led to a great amount of internal fitting and decoration which were not suitable for the use of his present Majesty. There is a considerable alteration going on now as a direct result in consequence. I do not disguise from myself or from the Committee that a very large part of this extra cost is due to miscalculations in the original designs of the yacht. As to who is responsible there can be only one reply. The Admiralty and the Chief Constructor to the Admiralty are responsible for the designs of all the King's ships, and the responsibility must lie with the very competent designer who has done so much to strengthen the Navy. I believe he is prepared to take the responsibility of the miscalculation, which must be a very grievous sorrow and burden to him. I do not think that very much will be gained by enlarging upon it. When I am told, however, that the yacht in its present condition is only fit to be broken up, I must enter my demur. That is not the case. The yacht is now in an absolutely perfect state. There is no doubt that the yacht is absolutely stable, and can be trusted to go to sea under any circumstances. There is no doubt, also, that the suggestion which has been made that the yacht can only be relegated to purposes where no speed is required is an entire misstatement. The yacht can go over nineteen knots.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
That is a question which I am not prepared to answer. Although we have had to spend a great deal of money upon this vessel, she is now a seaworthy boat, and in a very short time she will be a very luxurious and well-fitted boat, and, I believe, well suited for the purpose for which she was designed. When my hon. friend says that it was a mistake in judgment to relegate the construction, of a vessel of this kind to the royal, dockyards, I cannot honestly say that I differ very much from him. I believe that it would have been better—it is easy to be wise after the event—if she had been specialised at the commencement and entrusted to some great shipbuilding firm which has made a European or world-wide reputation in the construction of luxurious vessels. As to the desirability of making this vessel a warship first and a yacht afterwards,. I do not agree with the views which have been expressed. That matter was gone into when the first idea of the yacht was proposed. I quite agree that money has been spent needlessly in doing work that ought not to have deen done, and in repairing errors which ought not to have been committed. It is now proposed to ask for a Committee of Inquiry into the matter. It is not desirable to relieve the Admiralty of their responsibility; and, therefore, I cannot agree; with the appointment of any Committee. We do not propose to ask a Committee of this House to inquire into the matter. If the functions of the Public Accounts Committee are so large as the hon. Member for Dundee has suggested, it is not advisable to enlarge them by charging that Committee with the duty of inquiring into this matter, the responsibility for which lies with the Admiralty. I am not prepared to assent to the appointment of a Committee which will deprive the Admiralty of its responsibility in such matters, and until we have received some definite instruction from this House—
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
I suggested an independent inquiry. I admitted that the House was rather against that kind of thing. What I 489 wanted was the appointment of an independent Committee.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
I still maintain that it is not desirable to relieve the Admiralty of their responsibilty. Therefore, I cannot agree to the appointment of any independent body to usurp the functions of the Admiralty in this matter, and I hope the Committee will not consent to the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Dundee. Nothing would be gained by it. This expenditure will not be curtailed, and it will not be saved. I have admitted, as I am bound to admit, that these misfortunes have occurred, and we all regret them, but they are irreparable, and I can see no good purpose that will be served by accepting the Amendment. We must be content to accept the facts as they are.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY (Chester-le-Street)
said he was glad to find from the speech of the Secretary to the Admiralty that there were many points with regard to the royal yacht upon which they were all agreed. Nevertheless, he thought that neither the hon. Member who had replied for the Admiralty nor the noble Lord who preceded him had quite realised the importance of this subject. This question of the royal yacht had created very great interest throughout the country, and more particularly in the shipbuilding districts. He assured the hon. Member who represented the Government upon this question that there was a much greater anxiety in regard to the royal yacht than he seemed to realise. That anxiety was not caused by the fact that the royal yacht was not a suitable ship, but because it had been designed under the superintendence of a gentleman who had complete control of the designing of all our warships. What the country felt was that if a mistake like this or a miscalculation had been made with regard to the royal yacht, it was quite possible that a similar mistake or miscalculation might be made with regard to some of our warships. He did not pretend to be such an expert upon shipbuilding as the hon. Member for Shipley, but he owned thirty steamers, and he had had the honour of giving a good many orders for them himself. 490 Therefore he did know something about the subject. Every ship which had been built for him had been engined in the river, and in every instance when the engines had been put in his steamers had been found to be perfectly stable. He hoped the hon. Member would not consider that they were dealing with this as a party question. His anxiety for the welfare of the Navy was as great as that of anybody else. What he wanted to call the attention of the Government to was this—that there was great anxiety in the country on this subject, and that it would be very much better if they consented to an independent and impartial inquiry to satisfy the public feeling. He did not wish to score a point over His Majesty's Government or the Chief Constructor to the Navy, but he wanted to satisfy public feeling in the matter and remove their doubts as to whether the warships would fulfil the purposes for which they were built. Their experience in regard to this royal yacht was unique in the shipbuilding history of this country, and he questioned whether there was ever a case anything like it before. Notwithstanding the assurances of the Secretary to the Admiralty as to the seaworthiness of this ship, if what he had heard was true, he was not satisfied, that she would prove seaworthy in case of a storm at sea. The masts of the yacht had been lowered, her funnels had been cut down, the houses on the deck had been taken away, and a large amount of pig-iron had been put in to keep her steady; and, notwithstanding the hon. Gentleman's assurances as to her seaworthiness, as a loyal subject of the King he hoped His Majesty would not go to, sea in her. They had much better break up the yacht and spend another £209,000 to build a new ship. He thought that course would be far more satisfactory to the country and also to His Majesty. He hoped that the Government would take this matter into their serious consideration. He had made many mistakes in his time, like other people. [Ministerial cries of "No, no."]; He was quite frank about his mistakes, and hon. Members opposite evidently were not, but whenever he had made a mistake he had always done his utmost to rectify it. He would seriously recommend the Government to cons 491 whether it would not be more satisfactory to dispose of this yacht and to build a new one. He was anxious to know who was responsible for the miscalculations that had been made. He quite agreed that if His Majesty had given a commission to any shipbuilder on the Clyde or the Wear they would have built a yacht which would have been satisfactory, most certainly for £250,000; and he was certain that if such a ship, when launched, would not stand upright the Government would have refused to take her over. When a blunder was made in the Army a court of inquiry was held, as in Sir Henry Colvile's case, and the officer was condemned; and, whether the miscalculations that had been made were due to negligence or incompetence, the person who made them was equally culpable and should be called to account. He confessed that he looked upon this matter as much more serious than some hon. Members were inclined to regard it. The country were watching very closely the action of the Government, and they would not be satisfied with a mere departmental inquiry.
§ MR. REGINALD LUCAS (Portsmouth)
said that most of the hon. Members who had addressed the House were experts upon shipbuilding. He had had the advantage of paying frequent visits to the yacht under discussion, and had taken pains to inform himself as to the actual position of matters in connection with the subject under discussion. He did not profess to be an expert on yacht building, but, speaking as a layman, it seemed to him that this yacht was a most remarkable vessel, unlike any other vessel, and he understood that the reason was that she was designed for a royal yacht. It seemed to him that the designer of the yacht thought he was producing one best fitted for the purpose, and that he was perfectly justified in making the experiment he did. If the plan he hit upon had not been wholly satisfactory he was perfectly justified by the circumstances under which he was working. He was informed that the use of non-inflammable wood had been an undoubted failure, but he was also told that the fault, on being discovered, had been to a great extent remedied. It might be said that 492 the country was very indignant because of the money that had been spent on the yacht, but when a vessel like this was being built they could not be certain beforehand that the experiment would be a success. The criticism and continual abuse levelled against the designer, the Admiralty, and the Government were a little intemperate, and he was prepared in the circumstances to support the Government.
§ *SIR EDWARD REED (Cardiff)
said the motion of his hon. friend rested, as he understood, upon two grounds—firstly, that a great mistake had been made in the Admiralty Office, and, secondly, that a very large expenditure had been incurred in excess of the Estimates and without the authority of this House. Even the Secretary to the Admiralty admitted these propositions—firstly, that a grave error had been made in the design of the yacht, and, secondly, that the expenditure was much more than double what was originally estimated had to be laid out upon her in the dockyard. These two points seemed to be entirely different. As to the design, he was obliged to separate himself from those who thought it was necessarily an error to design a royal yacht and build her in His Majesty's dockyards. He had not the smallest doubt that the constructive department of the Admiralty was perfectly competent to design any class of vessel, and he saw no error in committing the design to them originally, nor any error in committing the building of her to the royal dockyards. Indeed, there were some advantages. Those who knew something about these matters had often great grounds for complaint against the Admiralty that, after having entered into contracts for the building of His Majesty's ships, a great number of alterations were made and great expense incurred, and great niggardliness shown as regards the expense so incurred. Here was the case of a vessel that was peculiarly liable to have to undergo many at least minor alterations and modifications, for the reason that the vessel was to fulfil the requirements of her late gracious Majesty, and it was not to be expected that either her late Majesty or his present Majesty could settle everything designed for their 493 dignified use or entirely grasp drawings and specifications. Even builders sometimes had undertaken to build vessels from designs and specifications which were to them incomprehensible. He thought that was a fair and natural reason why this vessel should be built under conditions in which there would be more elasticity of construction and arrangement than ordinarily, and that was the ground, and the only ground, on which he rested his approval of the vessel being built in a Royal dockyard. At the same time, looking to the fact that the royal dockyards had been for some years past full to overflowing with work on battleships and cruisers, it might have been wiser to have called upon the great private firms of the country, who were well competent and practised in the designing of such ships, to deal with the matter. But he had no blame to throw upon the Admiralty, for the reason he had stated. As to the question of the error in the design, he did not wish to lay any stress upon it, and, indeed, he should have hardly mentioned it, but the Secretary to the Admiralty seemed to recognise no responsibility in the Admiralty or in this House for a matter of the kind.
§ *SIR EDWARD REED
said the hon. Gentleman desired to preserve the responsibility of the Admiralty by denying all responsibility to the House. The hon. Gentleman spoke of the responsibility of the Admiralty, and advised the House not to take any part of that responsibility off the Admiralty by instituting an independent inquiry. He was very sorry indeed that a man of such great ability and experience as his friend Sir William White should have met with this calamity. No designer, no matter how able, was free from an error of this kind creeping into his design; and if any reproach could be levelled against Sir William White at all, it was for having undertaken a work which he might very well have passed on to a private firm. An accident of this sort would occur sometimes in calculation. He had him-self known an accident occur in this way. Some negligent draughtsman calculating 494 the detailed weights of some parts of the structure or machinery had forgotten to multiply something on one side by two. It was very difficult in a case like that for the chief designer and the responsible head to detect it if it did not cover a very large amount of ground. In this particular case what happened, he believed, was this. The vessel was to be provided with very ample deck accommodation, with very ample deckhouses, with elevated bridges, and with many things tending to greatly raise the centre of gravity. These weights were estimated before the design was settled but, as it happened, unfortunately they were under-estimated. He had no specific authority for stating, but he believed it was true, that Sir William White himself had no conception of any oversight having been committed in the vessel until she actually capsized in the dockyard. That was the first intimation he had of any defect, and an overwhelming blow it must have been. He came now to the second point, and he must say that he went entirely with his hon. friend who moved the Amendment. This House, feeling its responsibility to the country in connection with the expenditure of public money, assented to an outlay of £237,000 for a royal yacht, but since the accident happened the Admiralty had gone ahead lavishing expenditure on this vessel without the smallest respect for the responsibility of the House. The appalling figure now reached was £512,000 for the vessel. His hon. friend did not come with a savage, vindictive motion, calculated to greatly stigmatise and injure the Government. No, he came with an Amendment so moderate and so small that it was difficult to understand how any responsible Member of the House could escape voting for it. He did not suppose that the Government would accept the Amendment, but why they should oppose it he did not know. The Secretary to the Admiralty had given no explanation of the course of proceedings on this vessel. Here he would make an admission of sympathy with the Government. They all knew since the decease of the late Sovereign that this vessel was bound to undergo large changes in accommodation to adapt it to the uses 495 of His Majesty the King, and if the Secretary to the Admiralty had come to the Committee with a separate Estimate for that, in view of the new circumstances and conditions, he believed they would have passed the Vote without the slightest demur. We had this expenditure, which already amounted to £512,000, still going on, and if the deplorable vaticinations of the hon. Member for Gateshead should prove correct, the amount would be much larger. He would support the Amendment, with the conviction that he was performing a reasonable public duty.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
I agree with a good deal of what the hon. Member for Cardiff said in his speech. There has been no attempt on the part of the Government to repudiate their responsibility—of course the Government must be responsible for what takes place in the Admiralty—or to minimise the fact that there has been a great error in the construction of this vessel. It is admitted absolutely. One hon. Gentleman has said that there ought to be an inquiry. Well, the facts are not in doubt. The object of an inquiry is to see which of two sides in a matter on which there is a dispute is in the right. There is really no dispute in this case. The error is admitted in the frankest and fullest way by my hon. friend who represents the Admiralty in this House. Why there should be an inquiry, and what kind of an inquiry it should be, I really know not, for we have never attempted in the smallest degree to represent that there has not been an error, or to deny the fact that the error has cost the country a great deal more money in connection with the construction of the royal yacht than was at one time anticipated. So much for the inquiry. On that matter I am not in agreement with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, but I am entirely in agreement with what has fallen from him with regard to Sir William White, the distinguished gentleman who has been responsible for the designs of this yacht, as for so many of the finest ships of war afloat in the world. I did not hear the statement myself, but I understand that one hon. Gentleman opposite sug 496 gested the propriety of turning Sir W. White out of the public service. [Opposition cries of "No, no," and Ministerial cries of "Joicey."] As the hon. Gentleman is not present I do not wish to press the matter, but I am informed that be said that if he had been served in that way he would have turned the gentleman who had so served him out of his service.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I understand it was made with regard to the technical, adviser responsible for the mistake. That technical adviser is Sir W. White, and under these circumstances I am right in saying it has been suggested that he should be turned out of the public service. Let me tell the House why we do not pretend, any more than Sir W. White himself would pretend, to defend what has occurred with regard to the royal yacht. Sir W. White is a man who has done more to revolutionise naval construction in this country and other countries than any man now living. He entered the public service of this country at a pecuniary loss to himself, and since he entered that service he has done admirable public work, of which this House and the country ought to be, and I believe are, gratefully aware. I am sure the hon. Gentleman opposite will associate himself with me in saying that he has done work which has earned the admiration of the world and the gratitude of his countrymen. Under these circumstances I think we ought not to weigh upon a single mistake made in a brilliant career. I do not know who of us is sufficiently proud of himself to think that he has not made a great mistake in his career. Few of us have had such a career as Sir W. White has had as regards the public benefit he has given to his country. It is a cruel injustice to a great public servant that any man should dwell upon this single error and regard it as casting a shadow over a life such as Sir W. White has lived.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY (who had returned to the House)
I understand 497 that the right hon. Gentleman has been alluding to me. I should like to make it clear what I did say. I said that if any large employer had had in his service any person who had committed a great blunder entailing such serious consequences, he would not have kept him in his employment twenty-four hours. I was not alluding to any particular person. We are asking for a Committee of Inquiry. I certainly did not say it was Sir W. White.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I frankly admit that I think better of large employers than to believe that such is the case. I do not believe that a large employer who had under him a technical adviser who for ten, fifteen, or twenty years had done him brilliant service, and had given his firm its position among the firms of the world, would in consequence of a single blunder act in that way. The hon. Member for Cardiff explained what I am sure the House is ready to accept from him, and not from him alone, but from all those who have had official connection with Sir W. White, the statement of the debt of gratitude this country owes him, and the further statement that we do not think a great record of public service ought to be seriously discounted on account of a single error. Having said that, I may venture to appeal to the Committee upon a point connected with the conduct of the debate on this Vote. The royal yacht is undoubtedly an important question. I do not wish to minimise it, but I would respectfully suggest that we should come to a decision on this Amendment rapidly, because there are larger issues still to be discussed which do deserve and require the attention of the Committee.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
hoped the Committee would permit him to say a few words in answer to the First Lord of the Treasury. He must protest against the right hon. Gentleman having sought to turn this question of the control of expenditure into one of the personal responsibility of Sir W. White. The right hon. Gentleman had not been present during nine-tenths of the debate, and he (Mr. Robertson) had a better right than the right hon. Gentleman to speak in praise of Sir William White, 498 because he had been more distinctly and personally associated with Sir W. White than the First Lord of the Treasury could possibly have been. He adopted every word which the right hon. Gentleman had said in praise of Sir W. White; but he did not adopt the fixing of responsibility on Sir W. White, and he refused to accept the theory that Sir W. White was responsible for this miscalculation. Sir W. White's responsibility was no more than that of the Admiralty. He would most willingly have withdrawn his Amendment had there been any approximation by the representative of the Admiralty to an independent inquiry, but that not having been done, he must press his Amendment to a division.
§ MR. GODDARD (Ipswich)
said that the hon. Member for Dundee in introducing his Amendment had laid special stress on what he described as a rather remarkable sentence in the Report of the Public Accounts Committee with reference to the royal yacht. He was not sure if it had not even been hinted in the debate that that Committee had gone out of its province in making the suggestion to the Admiralty as conveyed in that sentence. As a member of that Committee he would like to say that they would not have put that sentence into their Report, which they had done unanimously, had it not been for the evidence submitted to them that the error in regard to the cost of the royal yacht was due to the inexperience of the Admiralty in the construction of vessels of that description. The Public Accounts Committee were aware that this was not the first instance in which the House of Commons had been induced to embark on expenditure on the understanding that a certain sum of money would be required for a certain purpose, while subsequent years had shown that the amount required was far in excess of that first asked for. That practice had become a very serious thing indeed. He would briefly recapitulate the facts. When the subject of the royal yacht was first brought before the House it was stated that £237,000 would be required, as a rough estimate, for the yacht. Then, when details were prepared, including the sums for labour, material, etc., that sum, based on definite calcula 499 tions, was raised to £353,000. It had been suggested that the alterations to the royal yacht were necessary because of the lamented death of the late Sovereign, and the accession of the King; but he would point out that last year's Estimates had shown a substantial increase on the previous year's Estimates in regard to this yacht, and that could not possibly have been due to the death of Queen Victoria. The Estimate had increased from £353,000 to £450,000. That was a very serious increase indeed. Now, this year they were asked for £512,000 for a yacht which was originally estimated would cost £237,000. That was a serious point, and a high principle was involved in it. He did not imply for one moment that the whole blame was due to Sir W. White; indeed that question was never raised in the Public Accounts Committee. It had simply been stated that the mistake was due to inexperience in the building of ships of that kind by the Admiralty. But surely there was very good cause why the question should be raised in all seriousness in the House, and an inquiry be made.
§ MR. CREAN (Cork, S.E.)
said that year after year the increase on the Estimates had been piled up, and as a rule the only attack against these ever-recurring increases had been made from the Irish benches. He was not at all surprised that the Leader of the House was anxious to get away from the tight corner in which he found himself that night. This was only an instance of the condition into which the Government had got the finances of the country; but they seemed prepared to defend any extravagant expenditure so long as they had a majority behind them to swallow it. Hon. Members on these benches, however, were not in the habit of taking for granted that everything the Government said or did was right. If anybody was to blame for reflecting upon Sir W. White in this particular instance, he thought it was those hon. Gentlemen who were inclined to closure the debate. He might say that the reflection upon Sir W. White would be far more severe in the country than anything that had been said in the House. What he wanted was to saddle the blame for this gross blunder on the right shoulders. How expert the construc 500 tors of the Admiralty must be, when they could scarcely read the drawings which were placed before them! He had himself seen drawings which the gentlemen who made them could not themselves interpret. Time after time alterations in the designs were made, and the result was that private firms dreaded to take work from the Admiralty. He knew of a case of a small boat in which, on account of these mistakes, the contractors were £4,000 out of pocket. He did not believe the Government would realise the position in which they stood with regard to the Navy until the Fleet had been subjected to a strain similar to that which the Army had been and was still undergoing. This yacht was an object-lesson. If in connection with a vessel of such supreme importance—for it was for the conveyance of their Sovereign—these things happened, it was not an extravagant supposition to assume that many of the other vessels constructed under the same authorities would, if properly tested, be found to be equally defective.
§ MR. KEARLEY
asked whether it was a fact that, before this accident occurred, an Admiralty official went down to Pembroke Dockyard to check the final draught and trim of the ship, and that after his examination he reported to the Admiralty that everything was satisfactory. A rumour to that effect had been going about for some time, and if it was well-founded it placed a very direct responsibility upon the shoulders, of the Admiralty. He regretted that the name of Sir W. White had been imported into the discussion, because they all knew what a very able man he was, and what a serious blow it had been to him that this misfortune had occurred. If an inquiry was held he had no doubt that it would be shown, that Sir W. White was not the official in fault, although in his official capacity he took the responsibility upon himself. It was an open secret that the really responsible person was a man no longer in the employ of the Admiralty.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY
asked whether it was a fact that the official who had been found to be responsible for this miscalculation was no longer in the 501 employment of the Admiralty. He also repeated the inquiry he had made earlier in the evening, but which had not been answered, as to whether the royal yacht had a large quantity of pig-iron in her as ballast, and whether it was true that she was over two feet deeper than her designer intended her to be.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
was understood to say, in reply to the hon. Member for Devonport, that the survey was made in the ordinary course by the Admiralty officials at the launching of the vessel, before any of the weights were added. It appeared that the top-weights of a vessel were those which very largely affected its stability. It was quite possible for a survey to be made of a vessel externally without any error being detected if the error was in the distribution and calculation of the weights during construction. The fact was, however, that the survey was made before the weights were put on the vessel.
§ MR. KEARLEY
asked whether the hon. Member would give the date on which this official visit was made. If he could not give the date at once, would he give it if a question was placed on the Paper? Every expert knew that the checking operation was a very serious one, but yet it was not then discovered whether the vessel was seaworthy or not. He had been told that many of the fittings used in the yacht had been made to the dockyard scheduled pattern. For instance, the sidelights weighed 3½ cwts. each, precisely the same weight as would have been used for a battleship, and that procedure was adopted all the way through. If he put down a question, would the hon. Gentleman give the date on which the vessel was officially inspected?
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY
said that the First Lord of the Treasury had made an attack on him for one statement in his speech. His hon. friend had stated that the official responsible in the matter was not now in the employment of the Admiralty. He again asked whether that was the case or not; also whether there was a large amount of 502 pig-iron on board the vessel as ballast, and whether she was not two feet deeper than she was intended by her designer.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said he could not give the date asked for by the hon. Member for Devonport, but if a question were put down he would certainly reply to it. The hon. Member asked whether any person had been discharged on account of the error.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY
said what he asked was whether the official responsible was now in the employment of the Admiralty.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said that he believed the drafting staff remained the same, with the exception of one member, who left on his own accord to take other employment. The hon. Member for Devonport had rebuked him for bringing in the name of Sir William White, but he had no option in the matter; he brought his name in as Chief Constructor of the Navy, in which capacity he was responsible. The hon. Member also asked whether the vessel exceeded her draft. She did exceed her draft when first launched, but had since been readjusted, and the extremely heavy fittings had been removed in order to bring her back to her sea-going trim.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY
said he had asked the hon. Member whether it was true that the vessel had a large quantity of pig-iron on board as ballast, and if she were not now 2 ft. deeper than her designer intended her to be.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said that the pig-iron had been placed on board the vessel to bring her down to her load-line when she was brought from Pembroke to Portsmouth. The whole of the weights had been readjusted, and she was now ballasted in the ordinary way. She had now the designed draft.
§ Question put.503
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 110; Noes, 182. (Division List No 255.)467
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Cogan, Denis J.||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Glouc., Stroud||Craig, Robert Hunter||Jacoby, James Alfred|
|Ambrose, Robert||Crean, Eugene||Jones, Wm. (Carnarnonshire)|
|Austin, Sir John||Cullinan, J.||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Dalziel, James Henry||Kennedy, Patrick James|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Delany, William||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Black, Alexander William||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Leamy, Edmund|
|Blake, Edward||Doogan, P. C.||Leigh, Sir Joseph|
|Boland, John||Duffy, William J.||Levy, Maurice|
|Boyle, James||Duncan, J. Hastings||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Brigg, John||Dunn, Sir William||Lundon, W.|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Elibank, Master of||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Field, William||M'Crae, George|
|Burns, John||Flynn, James Christopher||M'Dermott, Patrick|
|Caldwell, James||Gilhooly, James||M'Govern, T.|
|Campbell John (Armagh, S.)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Minch, Matthew|
|Carew, James Laurence||Hammond, John||Mooney, John J.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Hayden, John Patrick||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Moss, Samuel|
|Murnaghan, George||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (Northants|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||O'Shee, James John||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Nolan, Cl. John. P. (Galway, N.||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Nolan, Joseph (Louth South)||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Thomas, J. A (Glamorgan, G'wer|
|Norman, Henry||Power, Patrick Joseph||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.).|
|O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Reckitt, Harold James||Wallace, Robert|
|O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Reddy, M.||Weir, James Galloway|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Redmond, William (Clare)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East),|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|O'Dowd, John||Robson, William Snowdon|
|O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|O'Malley, William||Sinclair, Capt John (Forfarshire|
|O'Mara, James||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Duke, Henry Edward||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Lowe, Francis William|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Finch, George H.||Macartney, Rt. Hn. W. G. Ellison|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Fisher, William Hayes||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W. (Leeds||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Majendie, James A. H.|
|Balfour, Maj K. R. (Christchurch||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Malcolm, Ian|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Forster, Henry William||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Galloway, William Johnson||Maxwell, W J H. (Dumfriesshire|
|Bigwood, James||Garfit, William||Mitchell, William|
|Bill, Charles||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lond.||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn||Morgan, David J (Walthamstow|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Monm'thsh.|
|Butcher, John George||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Morton, Arthur H A. (Deptford)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon, Sir Edw. H.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Murray, Rt. Hn A Graham (Bute|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Hamilton, Rt. Hn Lord G (Midd'x||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Peel, Hn. Wm. Rbt. Wellesley|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Pilkington, Lt.-Col. Richard|
|Chapman, Edward||Heaton, John Henniker||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Helder, Augustus||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Henderson, Alexander||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Higginbottom, S. W.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Hogg, Lindsay||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Purvis, Robert|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Pym, C. Guy|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham||Rankin, Sir James|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Rasch, Maj. Frederick Carne|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hutton, John (Yorks., N. R.)||Ratcliffe, R. F.|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Cust, Henry John C.||Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kimber, Henry||Robertson, Herb. (Hackney)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Knowles, Lees||Ropner, Col. Robert|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chatham||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Round, James|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Law, Andrew Bonar||Russell, T. W.|
|Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield||Lawson, John Grant||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Sassoon, Sir Edw. Albert|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J|
|Seton-Karr, Henry||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Sharpe, William Edward T.||Thorburn, Sir Walter||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew||Thornton, Percy M.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.|
|Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Tollemache, Henry James||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)||Tuke, Sir John Batty||Wylie, Alexander|
|Spear, John Ward||Valentia, Viscount||Wyndham, Rt. Hn. George|
|Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)||Walker, Col. Wm. Hall|
|Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Stroyan, John||Whitmore, Chas. (Algernon)|
|Strutt, Hn. Chas. Hedley||Williams, Rt. Hn J Powell (Birm.|
Resolution agreed to.
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Gilhooly, James||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O' Kelly, James (Roscommon, N|
|Allen, C. P. (Glouc, Stroud)||Hammond, John||O'Malley, William|
|Ambrose, Robert||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Mara, James|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||O'Shee, James John|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Helme, Norval Watson||Partington, Oswald|
|Bell, Richard||Holland, William Henry||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.|
|Black, Alexander William||Joicey, Sir James||Pirie, Dnncan V.|
|Boland, John||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Kearley, Hudson E.||Priestley, Arthur|
|Brigg, John||Kennedy, Patrick James||Reddy, M.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Lambton, Hon. Fredk. Wm.||Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)|
|Caine, William Sproston||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Caldwell, James||Leamy, Edmund||Reed, Sir E. James (Cardiff)|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Levy, Maurice||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Lough, Thomas||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Lundon, W.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||M'Crae, George||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Dermott, Patrick||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire|
|Cullinan, J.||M'Govern, T.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Minch, Matthew||Spencer, Rt. Hn C R (Northants.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Mooney, John J.||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Delany, William||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Dewar, J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Moss, Samuel||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Murnaghan, George||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Duffy, William J.||Norman, Henry||White, Lake (York, E. R.)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||O'Brien, Kendal (T'pper'ry, Mid||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Elibank, Master of||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Emmott, Alfred||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Williams, O. (Merioneth)|
|Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Field, William||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Mr. M'Arthur and Mr. Causton.|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||O'Dowd, John|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cautley, Henry Strother||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Finch, George H.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Fitzroy, Hn. Edw. Algernon|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Balcarres, Lord||Chapman, Edward||Fletcher, Sir Henry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. (Manch'r||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Flower, Ernest|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Galloway, William Johnson|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Garfit, William|
|Balfour, Maj K R (Christchurch||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lond|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B.||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Gore, Hn G. R. C Ormsby- (Salop|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon|
|Bigwood, James||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim|
|Bill, Charles||Cranborne, Viscount||Green, Walford D. (Wedn'sbury|
|Bond, Edward||Crossley, Sir Savile||Gretton, John|
|Brassey, Albert||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Greville, Hon. Ronald|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hn. St. John||Denny, Colonel||Hamilton, Rt. Hn Lord G (Mid'x|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nd'ry|
|Bull, William James||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield||Harris, Frederick Leverton|
|Butcher, John George||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Carlile, William Walter||Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Heath, James (Staffords, N. W.)||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Morgan, David J. (Walthams' w||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Helder, Augustus||Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Monm'thsh.||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Hermon, Hodge, Robert T.||Morris, Hn. Martin Henry F.||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Higginbottom, S. W.||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Hogg, Lindsay-||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)|
|Hope, J. F (Sheffield, Brightside||Murray, Rt. Hn A Graham (Bute||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Spear, John Ward|
|Hutton, John (Yorks. N. R.)||Nicholson, William Graham||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Stroyan, John|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Strutt, Hon. Chas. Hedley|
|Keswick, William||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Knowles, Lees||Pease, Herbt. Pike (Darlington||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Law, Andrew Bonar||Penn, John||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth)||Pierpoint, Robert||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Lawson, John Grant||Pilkington, Lt.-Col. Richard||Valentia, Viscount|
|Lee, Arthur H (Hants, Fareham||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Walker, Col. Wm. Hall|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Plummer, Walter R.||Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Pretyman, Ernest George||Whitmore, Chas. Algernon|
|Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Williams, Rt. Hn J Powell (Birm|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.||Purvis, Robert||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Pym, C. Guy||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Wilson, A. S. (York, E. R.)|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Ratcliffe, R. F.||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Macartney, Rt. Hn W. G. Ellison||Reid, James (Greenock)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Rentoul, James Alexander||Wylie, Alexander|
|M'Calmont, Col. H L B. (Cambs.||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Manners, Lord Cecil||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Ropner, Colonel Robert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Maxwell, W J H (Dumfriesshire||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Milton, Viscount||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report progress; and ask leave to sit again "—(Sir Charles Dilke), put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that he did not know whether all the Members of the Committee now present were aware of what had occurred during the evening. He did not want to blame anyone in particular, and probably if he went into that question the blame would have to be distributed. For five or six years it had been the custom to discuss the shipbuilding programme of the Government late in the session, and the representative of the Admiralty took an opportunity in June or July of making a statement on the subject. That night the Vote for the personnel of the Navy was taken first, which was unusual in recent years, and he was quite unaware that it was the intention of the Government to bring forward the personnel Vote before the materiel Vote. When it was found that that was the intention of the Government, it would be admitted 506 that hon. Members interested in the personnel Vote did everything in their power to shorten the discussion, with the result that in a short time a sum of two and a half millions was voted. Then an Amendment, no doubt of an import ant character, was moved, and that occupied the remainder of the evening. He had certainly expected that the Secretary to the Admiralty would make a general statement, as was the practice of Mr. Goschen when he was First Lord of the Admiralty; but he did not, and the Committee passed at once to the Amendment. The Committee had never been asked to consent to a Shipbuilding Vote without full information as to the character of the ships being supplied, or else reasons why that information could not be given. That had been the invariable custom, and therefore it seemed to him impossible that the Government should get the whole Vote that night. It was the duty of the Govern 507 ment to give the Committee another opportunity of discussing the materiel Vote, as they had not had the opportunity which had always been given on previous occasions.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said he must really decline to take the blame for what had occurred. No one regretted more than he did that the Committee had been unable to discuss the Shipbuilding Vote in detail. He had consulted with the late Secretary to the Admiralty opposite, and fell in with the arrangement he suggested. The discussion on the first Vote was completed in half an hour, and certainly it was not his fault that the remaining questions, of very great interest, had not been proceeded with. Instead of that, the whole of the evening had been spent in discussing a matter of secondary importance, for which he was not prepared to take the blame on himself.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said he did not put it down to the fault of the hon. Gentleman, except that he might have made a statement at the commencement of the discussion such as was made last year.
§ MR. KEARLEY
said that the effective point was, whether another day would be given for the discussion. He would remind the Leader of the House that the debate did not commence, until a quarter to eight o'clock, and that therefore they were not asking anything unreasonable when they asked for another day in which to discuss these great naval Estimates. The country would be very much disappointed if the Vote were now closed, and he was sure the right hon. Gentleman would not attempt any such course. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would kindly inform the Committee when the next opportunity would be given.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
All that the Leader of the House can do is to do his 508 best to distribute the time given to Supply so as to suit the convenience of Members, and the public service. If unofficial Members expend on two consecutive days several hours in discussing motions for the adjournment, and if when Supply is brought on Members will insist in discussing matters which, however important, are still of secondary importance, the blame does not rest with me. I do my best, sometimes by moving the closure, sometimes by other means, to try and direct discussion into the proper channels, but my power in this respect is limited, and it must rest with the House itself to determine in the main how the allotted days should be disposed of.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee also report progress; to sit again upon Monday next.