rose, and expressed his regret that the motions which he was about to submit to their lordships, had not been brought forward by an illustrious duke, who was so much better qualified to give effect to them. The task, however, having fallen upon him, he would endeavour to explain the reasons for which he was induced to move for a variety of papers necessary, in his opinion, to elucidate the important question, which would be shortly submitted to their lordships, and in doing which, he would occupy as little of their time as possible. He was anxious to have it understood, that in bringing forward the business, he was actuated by no motive of a personal nature towards the noble viscount on the head of the naval department. No, his motives were of a more honourable character. They sprung from his anxiety to promote and maintain that establishment, upon which the safety, the honour, and the very existence of the country depended. If the essential and 146 important reforms which had been proposed, and which were begun to be acted upon, should be carried gradually into execution, for he would admit they could not be at once, he had the best authority for asserting, that the navy might be kept up without resorting to the private yards, but that a considerable annual addition might be made to it. Unfortunately for the country, the persons who had the superintendance of the naval department at present, seemed to have come into office upon the specific pledge of wholly reversing the system of their predecessors. Economy and arrangement in the king's yards, the great objects of that noble lord, who lately presided at the admiralty, were either slighted or neglected by those who succeeded him, and the important reforms which he had suggested, which he had partially executed, and which he would have completely effected as soon as peace should be restored, appeared to have been totally abandoned. As a fitter opportunity would arise for discussing that important subject in all its considerations, he would not enter upon it at present, but having stated the general grounds upon which he brought forward his motions, proceeded to read the whole of them to their lordships. The motions with which he would trouble their lordships were, first, for "A list of ships which have been fitted, or refitted, between the 8th March 1803, and the 15th May 1804, shewing when each was taken in hand, and when completed." To this he presumed there would be no objection, as it was one of the motions made by the noble viscount at the head of the admiralty, with the addition of the period during which the ships were refitted.—His next motion would be for "A list of such ships as have beets docked between the 8th March 1803, and 15th May 1804, specifying the time when docked and undocked." This was the same made by his lordship, with the addition of the period.—He would next move for "A list of his majesty's ships on commission, which were built in the merchants' yards, specifying the time when launched, their cost, and the sums which have since been expended on them, and at what periods." It would appear from this account, that in general the ships constructed in the merchants' yards were obliged to be repaired within the short period of four years after they were launched.—His next motion would be for "A list of his majesty's 147 ships in commission, which were built in the king's yards, specifying the time when they were launched, their cost, and the sums which have been since expended on them, and at what periods." The reason for which he would move for this account was to shew how few ships there were actually in commission which had been built in the king's yards, and their durability compared with the ships built in the private yards.—His next would be for "An account of the principal articles of naval stores in the king's yards, on the 18th Feb. 1801, 15th of May 1804, and at this time, or as near to the said periods as can be collected from the returns. The quantities of rough and sided timber to be separately stated, and the foreign timber distinguished from the English." This was also one of the noble lord's motions, with a trifling addition. He was anxious that the quantity of timber should be distinctly stated, because there is a greet fallacy in the account when the sided timber is returned with the rough, amounting, as he understood, to nearly one third.—His next would be for "An account of the principal articles of naval stores due on contract, according to the latest returns from the several yards; and also on the 18th Feb. 1801, and the 15th of May 1804; the foreign timber to be separately stated from the English, and the rough timber from the sided." The substance of this motion was included in one made by the noble lord, but he thought it necessary to be rather more specific in the account he should call for, because he was anxious that the English timber should be distinguished from that which was to proceed from any contracts that had been made, to import from Holstein, or elsewhere.—His next notion would be for "An account shewing the number of months which the hemp, and spars for masts and topmasts, in store in the 15th of May 1804, would last, according to the average consumption, during the late war; and also how many months that which is due on the contracts would last." It would appear from this account, he could assert, from the best authority, that there wads nearly 18 months consumption in store, and that a quantity equal to the consumption of 12 months had been contracted for.—He would next move for "A copy of the order from the admiralty to the navy board, dated in January 1776, for keeping a three year's stock of timber in the dock-yards."
rose to order, and suggested whether it would not be proper for the noble lord to have the sense of the house taken on his first proposition, before he should proceed to read and comment upon the long series of motions which he intended submitting to their lordships.
thought it would save their lordships much trouble, if he should proceed to read them, instead of having the question put upon every one of them, which he should find himself under the necessity of doing, if he were prevented from following that course which he had adopted, as likely to least delay their lordships.
thought it would be best to let his lordship proceed, and explain at once the purport of all his motions, as he hoped to be able to satisfy the house, that there was no real necessity for acceding to any of them.
Earl Darnley ,
then moved for "A copy of that part of the report made by the commissioners of the navy who inspected Chatham dock-yard in 1785, which has reference to the supplies of timber sent into that yard, and into the yards of Deptford and Woolwich." In that report it would, he believed, appear, that the building of ships of war by contract, impeded considerably the service of the king's yards, as it prevented supplies of timber from being offered to them.—His next motion would be for "Copies of the reports made by the purveyors of Sherwood Forest, dated 18th Nov. 1797, and 4th Dec. 1802; also an account, shewing the number of trees which have been felled in that forest, for the use of the navy, since the period fast mentioned; specifying when the navy board made application to the treasury for the fall of the said trees." This would establish the fact, that the whole forest had been suffered to rot, notwithstanding the report of the purveyors, till the year 1803, when a fall of 8000 trees was made; and during that time the very ships building in the king's yards were rotting for want of timber to complete them.—He would next move for "A copy of the letter from the navy board to their purveyor of Sherwood Forest dated 20th Nov. 1797, declining the offer of timber made by Mr. Shaw, of Trowel." In this letter he understood they declared they would be in no want of timber for the following year.—His next motion was "For an account shewing the lowest 149 meetings, and size of oak timber, allowed to be received into his majesty's dock-yards, on the established contracts since 1776, and the lowest meetings, and size of timber which is applicable to the building of frigates and sloops of war." This would shew the shameful prodigality which had taken place in the employment of timber timber in the king's yards, where none was received but such as was applicable to the construction of ships of the line, or 50-gun ships. The consequence of this practice is, that frigates and sloops are built and repaired with it at a most exorbitant expence, there being none received of the sizes adapted for the smaller classes of ships.—His next would be for "An account shewing the quantity of sided timber converted in Dept-ford-yard, in Oct. Nov. and Dec. 1804; and in Oct. Nov. and Dec. 1803, specifying the number of trees which were found to be sound, and the number which were found to be defective in each month." One half of the trees in that yard, in 1801, were rotten and defective. The salutary regulation of a timber-master took place about that period, and the consequence has been, that the timber which has been received since that period has been good and serviceable.—He would next move for "An account shewing the sums of money which have been advanced as loans by the navy board to Mr. John Larking, Mr. John Bowsher, or any other timber merchants, specifying the time when such loans were made, and the conditions thereof." In consequence of those loans, those two contractors had been enabled to drive all competitors out of the market.—His next motion would be for "An account shewing the price of timber in the king's yards, on the 18th of Feb. 1801, and the advances which have been since made thereon; the advantages given by the alteration in the mode of measurement, and qualifications to be shewn in money." From this it would appear that timber was advanced 15 per cent. in 1802! and that a further advance of nearly 40 per cent. took place in June 1804. His next was for "Copies of the reports which have been made to the navy board by the officers of the dock yards, on examining the Stetin timber which was used in his majesty's ships some years since, by way of experiment, to ascertain its durability." These reports would shew that the timber is of such very inferior quality, that it is not worth the expense of workmanship.—He 150 would next move for "A copy of the report made by the purveyors of the navy, to the admiralty, on the 2d of Aug. 1802, respecting the foreign timber winch had been served into Deptford yard, by Mr. John Larking." It was stated in the report, that it was very inferior to English timber, some of the best of it approaching nearly in quality to the worst English oak, and that it could bear no competition with it in point of durability.—His next motion would be for a "Copy of the contract or agreement which has been made since 15th May 1804, by the navy board, with Mr. John Larking, for the importation of foreign oak timber; also an account shewing any other allowance which is to be made to him, on the said timber, than is therein expressed, and the sums of money which have been advanced to him on account thereof."—His next for "An account shewing the number of shipwrights, and also of apprentices, employed in the merchants' yards in G.Britain, according to the returns made to the admiralty in April 1804." This would shew the number of ship wrights to be about 5000, and the number of apprentices of all descriptions, to be about 3700.—Next, for "An account shewing, the amount of the tonnage of the merchant shipping of G. Britain, on the 1st Jan. 1804, distinguishing the foreign from the British-built." The tonnage, he understood to be nearly two millions of tons.—Next for "An account shewing the numbers and tonnage of shipping which have been built in the merchants' yards of G. Britain, between the 1st Jan. 1793, and the 31st Dec. 1804, or as late as the same can be made out, by the returns at the customhouse." From this it would appear, that in the merchant yards nearly 100,000 tons per year, exclusive of the ships of war on contract, have been built.—Next for "An account, shewing the number of ships and vessels of each class in the royal navy, and their tonnage; the foreign built ships to be distinctly stated, and those which have been built in the merchant-yards from those which have been built in the king's yards." From this account it would appear, that the whole navy amounts to about 530,000 tons; of which about 114,000 tons have been taken from the enemy, and about 260,000 tons built by contract: only 156,000 tons have been built in the king's yards, although they contain 3000 shipwrights, besides apprentices.—He would next move for 151 "Copies of all letters and representations which have passed between the admiralty and the navy boards, and between these boards, and the master shipwrights of his majesty's dock-yards, or any other person since the 27th Oct. 1803, on the subject of shoaling the shipwrights." Repeated representations had been made on the impropriety of the system pursued in working the shipwrights in the king's yards, which the late admiralty had endeavoured to correct.—He would also move for "Copies of all letters which have passed between the navy board and the master shipwrights of the several dock-yards, since the 1st of June 1804, respecting the time when the ships ordered to be built in his majesty's yards can be completed." This would shew, that if the men were properly shoaled, and not detained, by the want of materials, there would be no occasion to employ the merchant builders.—His next motion would be for "A statement shewing the number of shipwrights that should build a 74-gun ship of 1730 tons in one year, to be entitled, according to the prices for workmanship allowed by the present scheme of task, to three days pay for one, or 6s. 3d. per diem." At the rate of 6s. 3d. per day, the present wages, 48 shipwrights should build a 74-gun ship, of 1730 tons, in one year, or 312 days; and the whole sum for workmanship would amount to 46711.—His two next would be for "A list of ships which have been launched from his majesty's dock-yards, between the 1st of Jan. 1793, and 31st of Dec. 1804." Also, "An account shewing the number of shipwrights borne in all the yards, on the 31st of Dec. of each year, from 1793 to 1804 inclusive; the sums paid to them for wages in each year, and the number of ships of 74 guns, and 1730 tons, which the sums so paid in each year would pay for the workmanship in building, according to the prices allowed by the present scheme of task." In the 9 years prior to 1802, only 11 ships of the line, 2 fifties, 14 frigates, and 4 sloops had been launched in the king's yards, and money has been actually equal to the building of 523 sail of the line.—His next would be "For a statement of the grounds upon which the merchant ship builders declined to contract with the Navy Board for the building of ships of 74 guns, at a lower price than 361. per ton, such parts thereof to be distinctly stated as were adduced at the time they made their first offer, and 152 the time to be stated when other grounds, were made; whether the grounds were stated verbally or in writing, and by whom, if in writing, Copies thereof to be laid before the house." He understood that the merchant-builders complained, that they sustained considerable loss from the ships which they built in 1800 for 21l. per ton, and that they were now held strictly to the terms of their contract, and made responsible for any bad workmanship that may be discovered at a future period,—Next for the "Copy of a letter from the Navy Board to the Admiralty, dated the 24th Nov. 1802, inclosing the offer made by Mr. Brindley to build a 74-gun ship and a frigate." This gentleman, he was informed, offered to build a 74 at 21l. per ton, two years after the time the other builders say they suffered such loss.—His two next motions would be "For a schedule of the prices for workmanship and materials, which the Navy Board has agreed to pay the merchant-builders for ships ordered to be repaired by them since the 1st of June 1804, and against each article to be stated the sum which it costs the public in Deptford-yard;" also, "A statement to be made by the officers of Deptford-yard, shewing for what price per ton a ship of 74 guns and 1730 tons, could be built in that yard, in Jan. 1800 and 1805; according to the scheme of task for workmanship, and the prices paid in that yard for rough oak timber, and the other necessary materials at the above-mentioned periods." The merchant-builders had demanded, and are to be paid about 71 per cent. more than the prices in Deptford yard, where a 74 could be built for about 181. per ton in 1800, and about 241. per ton at the present moment.—The two next were for "A statement, shewing the defective or improper workmanship and materials, which have appeared in his majesty's ships Ajax and Achilles. Also the amount of the several repairs which have been done to them, or of the estimate for repairing the latter; the time when they were launched, commissioned, and paid off, prior to Aug. 1802, to be stated. Also "A copy of the letter sent to the admiralty, by the captain of his majesty's ship Ardent, dated 28th March 1804, on the subject of the iron bolts, which had worked out of that ship." The Ajax and Achilles were only 4 years in commission, and they have each since cost from 12 to 20,000l. in repairs.—He 153 should next move for "An account of the Additional Naval Force ordered to be provided between the 15th and 30th of May 1804; together with an estimate of the expence thereof; the number of guns and men each ship was to carry, to be distinctly stated." Also, "Copies of all letters or representations which have been made by admiral lord Keith, or the transport board, to the admiralty, respecting the inefficiency of the Additional Naval Force, called defence ships, and armed transports, and a statement shewing how they have since been disposed of." Also, "A statement of the force, under the command of admiral lord Keith, on the 15th of May 1804, and the 20th of March 1805." The defence ships had been represented as being of no use, but rather as incumbrance, and they had all been ordered to be employed as transports. Lord Keith's force had been reduced nine sail of the line and several frigates, and 9 sloops and 21 gun-brigs had been added.—He would move for "A list of the gun-brigs which were ordered to be fitted as fire vessels, in June, July, and Aug. 1804, specifying their force, and when they were launched, when they were ordered to be fitted as fire vessels, and when they were returned to the service of gun-brigs." Notwithstanding the clamours that had been raised against the late admiralty for not having provided a sufficient number of gun-brigs, immediately after the present board came into office, nine of the best were ordered to be fitted as fire-ships for some expedition which was not carried into effect. His last two motions would be for "A list of ships and vessels ordered to be built the king's yards, and contracted for the merchant's yards, from Jan. 1771, to the present time; the price per ton, after all abatements have been made, to be stated against each ship built by contract," Also "Copies of the representations made to the navy board by the officers of Woolwich yard, after having surveyed the Hope merchant ship, now called, the Hyæna; also a copy of the order to the officers of the yard to value her previous to her being purchased." He would take up no more of their lordships' time than to mention how he would propose to proceed, if the papers he moved for should be granted. It was his intention, at some future day, to move that all the information which had been laid on the table respecting that important subject, 154 should be referred to a committee of their lordships. Whatever the decision of the house should be, respecting the motions which he had read, he should not regret that he had brought the subject under discussion. If he were wrong in the assertions he had made, the noble lord to whom they applied would have an opportunity of refuting them, and their lordships would be able to determine the points at issue between them. Although he thought the papers he should move for, necessary for the full understanding of the question, if they should be refused, he would still persevere in his original intention, and bring the whole of the subject, at a convenient opportunity, under discussion. He would not trouble their lordships with any farther observations, but make the first motion.—The motion having been read from the woolsack,
rose, and assured the noble lord, that nothing could be more adverse to his wishes, than to oppose the production of any papers, which could possibly tend to impede the discussion of the important subject, which it was the professed object of all his motions to bring before their lordships. If the noble lord could prove his proposition, it would afford him, and the whole kingdom, he was persuaded, greater satisfaction than any event which had ever occurred in the history of the naval administration of this country. If he could prove that the king's yards, in times of difficulty, were equal to the keeping in repair of the great naval establishment of this country, and to add ten sail of the line to it annually, he who made the discovery would deserve to be considered as the greatest benefactor to the country, that has ever existed. He would be among the foremost to express his gratitude to such a man. He thought it necessary to remind the house that the motion respecting the late and present naval administration, was not of his seeking. He acted upon the defensive, and the different papers which he had moved for, were intended to be employed rather in his own vindication, than for the purpose of criminating others. With regard to one of the principal charges against him, that of building in the merchant yards, he would assert, that, from the foundation of the navy, to the present time, no board of admiralty ever existed in this country, with the exception of the last, which in times of difficulty had not recourse to building in 155 the private yards. Was it for him, with the short experience he had, to deviate from a practice which had been invariably followed in the proudest period of our naval annals? The papers which he had laid on the table in his own defence, would decidedly establish that practice which the noble lord had condemned. One of the reforms which had been suggested, respected the shoaling or classing of the workmen, and great advantagess were ascribed to this new discovery. Possibly it might be attended with all those benefits; but he could not coincide in the inferences which had been drawn from it, to the disrepute of the contrary practice. Parts of the works of a ship requiring different degrees of strength, the strong man was not retarded in his operations by the weaker man, who was working, perhaps, on a different part of the ship. This new invention was not practised at the best periods of our navy; it was a discovery not more than 15 months old, suggested by the master builder at Plymouth, and respecting which a difference of opinion obtained among the master builders in the other yards. Whether it could be adopted with advantage, would soon be decided; the subject was at present under consideration, and would most probably be determined before the papers moved for by the noble lord could even, with the greatest expedition, be laid upon the table. The question would be practically considered, and would be, within a short time, either adopted or rejected; or as truth was said to lay in the middle, perhaps some mode might be struck out between the ancient practice and the new discovery. He could assure the house that the subject was under deep consideration, and he intreated their lordships not to interrupt him while he was endeavouring to probe it to the bottom. He could perceive the drift of the noble lord's motions; they all tended to prove, that building in the merchants' yards was at all times more expensive than in the King's yards; and that with proper arrangement in the latter, ships may be built at a less comparative expense than they actually are. To decide those two important points, much of the information which the noble lord required, would be found in the papers before the house. As to those Which the noble lord moved for, he was persuaded they could not be produced in sufficient time for the proposed discussion of the question. Not- 156 withstanding he had repeatedly pressed the navy board to expedition, it was only within one hour after he had entered that house, that he received the papers which he moved for some days ago, and which he had the honour of presenting to their lordships. There was one of the motions which it would be impossible to comply with, within any reasonable time, that for the production of copies of certain letters, of which there were at least 300. He did not assert this from his own authority, he had applied to the proper officer, and he had that morning received a letter from the secretary of the navy board, stating, that the papers for which the noble lord intended to move, could not be produced, without a ruinous interruption of the business of the office, in less than 3 months. Under these circumstances, he trusted the noble lord would not persevere in pressing his motion. It may be said, why not employ supernumerary clerks? He would tell the noble lord, supernumerary clerks would not do. To prepare papers of such importance, with all the accuracy that was necessary for the two branches of the legislature, the ablest and most efficient men must always be employed, and those could not be diverted from their usual line of employment, without materially impeding the progress of the public service. He would repeat, that he was as anxious as the noble lord, for the full discussion of the question; and he would therefore entertain the hope, that he would postpone a motion which could only tend to retard it.
§ The Duke of Clarence
would not long trespass on the house, but he thought it incumbent on him to say a few words in support of a motion of which he was proud to be the father. He was surprised that the secretary of the navy board should write the letter which the noble lord stated to have received, or that 3 months should be required for the production of papers, which were necessary for the discussion of one of the most important questions that was ever submitted to that house. He could not refrain, however, even in that stage of the business, from declaring, that if any deviation should take place from the system laid down by lord St. Vincent, it was both fallacious and erroneous. In the merchant yards, the practice had long prevailed ref shoaling the shipwrights, and it was the wish of that great character, that the practice, which had been found 157 so advantageous, should be introduced and established in the king's yards.
congratulated their lordships and the country, that the system introduced by the late board of admiralty was under consideration, for its merits were such, that he entertained a confident hope that it would be adopted. He was happy to hear such a declaration fall from the noble lord at the head of the naval department, for it was generally understood that he, and those united with him in administration, came in with the determination to resist all the salutary regulations of the late board of Admiralty.—The first motion was then put and negatived. It was moved, that the rest of the series should be read short, which being done accordingly, they were all rejected.—Adjourned.