rose to move the Resolution of which he had given notice—
"That, in the opinion of this House, the control and management of the Dockyards is inefficient, and that the inefficiency may be attributed to the following causes:—
1st. The constitution of the Board of Admiralty;
2nd. The defective organization of the subordinate departments;
He had been induced to bring this Motion before the House because he believed there was a general feeling throughout the country that the organization of this Department was very defective, and that opinion was shared by men of business in that House who had experience of the management of large establishments. He had been strengthened in his wish to bring this matter before the House in consequence of the Report of the Royal Commission, which had attributed the inefficiency of which he complained to the causes embraced in his Resolution. That there was a want of responsibility would scarcely be questioned by any man. When the most competent authorities—men who had held the post of First Lord of the Admiralty—differed as to what were the powers and duties of the office, what must be thought of the matter? He would give the House one or two quotations in illustration of what he had stated. The Duke of Somerset, in his evidence before the Committee of 1861, which had been appointed to inquire into the subject, was reported, page 28, to have said—3rd. The want of clear and well-defined responsibility."
But the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir John Pakington), who was examined before the same Committee, was of an entirely opposite opinion. At page 179 it would be found that be said—"I consider that the First Lord is responsible for the whole administration of the navy" … "as the Secretary of State is considered to be responsible for his own department, and I believe this" … "has been the understanding of all former First Lords."
And at page 25 he said—"I do think that the system of administration of the Admiralty is not satisfactory, &c." … "I never did feel at the Admiralty that I had cither (ho knowledge, or the control, or the responsibility which I think the Minister who is at the head of so great a Department ought to have."
And at page 195 he said—"I avow my distrust of the Board of Admiralty as a means of governing such a department as the Navy."
With reference to the Junior Lords, the right hon. Baronet was asked whether his opinion applied to them also?—and his reply was—"The responsibility of the First Lord in departmental" … "matters is rather a theoretical than a real responsibility," and "where six gentlemen sit round a table there is, unavoidably, a tendency to lean upon each other … There is that theoretical responsibility of which we have beard so much, but my sincere belief is that there is a want and an absence on the part of any one member of that Board of that sense of individual responsibility—that feeling that upon my conduct hangs the decision of whether a given course is or is not to be taken, or whether a given thing is to be well done or not well done—upon which sense of responsibility I think the satisfactory conduct of public business mainly depends."
The Civil Lord was supposed to superintend the accounts, but the Duke of Somerset, when asked whether more authority was exercised by that member of the Board in this department than by his colleagues, replied in the negative. A previous First Lord, Viscount Halifax, stated that the Accountant General was under the Civil Lord; and when asked whether the accounts would be under his superintendence, so far as the Accountant General had the cash accounts, he replied, "Just so." As to the Controller, his duties were extremely onerous and important, for he had to draw the designs for ships, whether those built in the Royal Dockyards or in private yards, to inspect works in progress, and, in fact, to control the management of the 17,000 or 18,000 artificers and workmen employed in the seven dockyards; and he had besides various other duties. The Royal Commissioners of 1860 reported that the Royal Dockyards ought to be regarded as manufacturing establishments, and that the Controller of the Navy should be practically acquainted with and qualified to manage such establishments; and the Duke of Somerset, while objecting to that view, admitted that if it were adopted a civilian would have to be appointed as Controller General. The Board, however, ignored that Report altogether, and laid down the strict and rigid rule that the Controller must be a naval officer. Now, what he (Mr. Seely) contended for was, that all the ability to be found in the country should be made available for the public service, and that the best man should be appointed Controller, whether he were a naval officer or a civilian. Admiral Walker, who had filled that position, when examined before the Commission, stated that though he was supposed to be responsible for a ship being properly adapted in all its parts, he was really guided by his officers; and Lord Clarence Paget remarked that the Controller not being a practical man must necessarily be guided by the officers under him. The recommendation of the Commissioners was evidently in accordance with common sense; yet the Duke of Somerset told the Committee of 1861 that there were a thousand reasons against a civilian being Controller, He only, however, stated one, which he probably thought the strongest, leaving the 999 locked up in his breast, and that reason was that all the fittings, ventilation, stowage, and comfort of a ship were under his superintendence, and that a naval officer would be better able to look after those things than a civilian. One would have supposed that the speed, strength, and offensive and defensive power of a vessel were the matters of primary importance; and he (Mr. Seely) submitted, moreover, that even the points to which the noble Duke gave priority would be as well attended to by a civilian as by a naval officer. The noble Duke seemed to proceed the assumption that the man who used a thing must necessarily be the best man to make it; but according to such logic everybody ought to be his own architect and his own shoemaker. Moreover, naval officers had not been particularly successful with regard to these very details; for Rear Admiral G. Elliot, who informed the Committee of 1861 that ships' fittings were very defective, and that two years previously a Committee over which he presided had unanimously reported "strongly condemning the dangerous position of the magazines, and referring to previous reports of the same description," and he attributed the disregard by the Admiralty of this and former reports of the same character "to be entirely owing to the constitution of the Board, including the Controller's office." Another rule insisted on by the Admiralty was that the person filling the office ought to be frequently changed, and the reason given by the Duke of Somerset was that he ought not to remain in office more than seven or eight years, certainly not more than ten, because with the change there was more probability of improvements being effected. Yet the noble Duke acknowledged that it was undesirable to change the heads of departments, such as the store-keeper, in a similar manner, for that this would put them completely in the hands of their chief clerks. Now, surely the same objection applied to the Controller, and if he were an efficient officer the longer he remained in the service—of course with certain limitations—the better would he be able to fulfil its duties. It was much more difficult, too, to obtain a competent successor for so important a post, than for that of Storekeeper General. The test of good management being the production of articles of the best quality at a reasonable cost, a Controller who knew his business instead of being opposed to improvement would be anxious to adopt every real improvement in order to make his vessels as powerful and effective as possible. It might be said that he had assistants, such as the Chief Constructor, but knowledge ought to proceed from the higher to the lower officers, and not from the lower to the higher. With regard to the Controller, one important part of his duty was the visiting and the management of the dockyards; but the Duke of Somerset in Report 1860, p. 22, said, "It is impossible for the Controller to leave London," his business requiring his daily attention in London. It might be asked what assistance the Controller received. As the Royal Commissioners re ported that he was responsible for the work in the yards it might be supposed he would have the power of appointing the best men he could get; and in their Report they expressed the opinion that as the Controller was responsible he ought to have the power (subject to the approval of the Minister) of appointing the Superintendents of the dockyards, who were the instruments for carrying out his instructions. The Board of Admiralty, however, paid no attention to this recommendation; and the Duke of Somerset, in his evidence before the Royal Commissioners, expressed an opinion that it would be a great misfortune so far to place the Superintendents under the Controller. They were, he said, now able to communicate with the First Lord or any other member of the Board, and that was to some extent a check upon the Controller. Now, as the Superintendents were the agents of the Controller, this appeared to be scarcely fair and generous—such a course would not be pursued by men of business. The Board of Admiralty had never carried out the recommendation of the Commissioners, and insisted that the Superintendent should be a naval officer. The Duke of Somerset gave as a reason for this that the captain of every ship fitted out wanted some alterations, and a naval officer could best understand what was wanted. It was rather a libel upon the naval profession to say that every captain wanted some alteration to be made in the fitting out of his ship. He did not believe that every naval officer would demand such alterations, nor did he believe that a naval officer in the position of the Superintendent was the best person to protect the public. No doubt, there was a master shipwright, a master smith, and other head officers, who could assist the Superintendent, if a naval officer, in shipbuilding; but the Superintendent having no practical knowledge could not decide, for instance, between the master shipwright and the master engineer if they differed. Some of these officers were exceedingly clever, and what was wanted was a head—some one to whom they could appeal if they differed. Sir Michael Seymour stated that when he was Superintendent of Devonport Dockyard in 1854 certain works were in abeyance for ten years in consequence of a disagreement between the dockyard authorities and the Board of Works. Practically, the Superintendents were changed every two or three years, before it was possible for them to become interested in the efficiency of their dockyard, and the results were disastrous. If a manufacturer well acquainted with his business left it for six or eight months he had some difficulty in taking up the thread of his work; and still more difficult was it for a Superintendent to become acquainted with what was passing in a dockyard with which he had little or no direct acquaintance. There were six Lords of the Admiralty, who had no practical knowledge; one Controller, who could not leave London; and one Superintendent, who knew even less than the Controller. Was it likely that a business so superintended could answer? Would any Member of that House get up and defend the system on which dockyard management was conducted? Would any manufacturer or man of business defend such a system? The country was gradually getting rid of Boards. The India Board and the Ordnance Board had been swept away, and the general feeling of the country was against them. There was no public Department on which so many Committees had sat as the Admiralty. In 1859 a Committee to inquire if any improvement could be made in dockyards was appointed by the Lords of the Admiralty. It consisted of Rear Admiral Smart, Mr. Chatfield, master shipwright; Mr. Andrew Murray, chief engineer; Mr. Robert Laws, storekeeper; and Mr. Robert Bowman, civil engineer. This Committee examined 173 witnesses, 172 of whom were or had been paid officials of the Admiralty, and only one an independent witness. In August, 1859, they reported—the only dissenting member of the Committee being Mr. Chatfield—"My opinion is that it is very difficult to say what the responsibility of the Junior Lords is, and, I may almost add, it is doubtful whether they have any."
A Royal Commission was afterwards appointed to inquire into the control and management of the dockyards. They examined seventy witnesses, all of whom were or had been officials, except two. They reported—and he (Mr. Seely) had adopted that portion of their Report—"The Committee feel from their own observations that the remark made in the circular, issued by the Board, in February, 1847, that 'the quantity of work done in the dockyards is below the standard of well-conducted private establishments' is still applicable; and it was evident to the Committee that before this can be remedied material alteration will require to be made in the system under which the works in the dockyards are conducted. There was an apathy and want of activity and energy pervading many of the supervising officers, and many of the men, apparent in the dockyards, and that no code of rules for the management of such large bodies of men can be made so complete as to enable an inefficient or inactive professional officer at the head of a department to carry it on properly, as if they were 'personally supervised by an active, energetic, practical officer.'"
Well, notwithstanding the general opinion throughout the country—notwithstanding that the system had been condemned by the Reports of Committees, and by the opinion of men of business, still, if the Admiralty would point to results, and say "we challenge you on the results," that would be something. But this was just what the Admiralty could not do. Year after year there were complaints of the accounts, next that the work was expensive, and thirdly that the fleet was inefficient. What reason could there be for all this delay in the accounts? He admitted there were certain principles recognised in keeping accounts, and they might be made perfect as regarded all the practical issues involved without waiting for six or seven years. Sir James Graham, who was examined before the Committee of 1861, said—"We regret to state that, in our opinion, the control and management of the dockyards is inefficient, and that the inefficiency may be attributed to the following causes:—1. The constitution of the Board of Admiralty; 2. The defective organization of the subordinate departments; 3. The want of clear and well-defined responsibility;4. The absence of any means, both now and in times past, of effectually checking expenditure, from the want of accurate accounts."
Since then six years had nearly elapsed, and yet they were told that the accounts would be better "next year." Again, in the same Report, another opinion of Sir James Graham was thus given—"I am perfectly satisfied—as I stated the other day after hearing the Duke of Somerset's evidence (the Duke both admitting the necessity of these accounts and of placing them under the solo direction of the Accountant General)—that it is quite competent to frame a form of accounts, and that the evil would be remedied under the existing system in six months. I do not believe there is any difficulty in doing it."
And the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Pakington) stated before the same Commission in 1861—"I am assured by Sir Richard Bromley and Mr. Anderson, who are the highest living authorities, in my humble judgment, with respect to accounts, that there is no difficulty in so forming accounts upon the principle of double entry so that at once, year by year, Parliament may be told what has been spent in the building of any gunboat, in the building of any three-decker, in the making of any dock, or in the repair of any quay; And the account will be imperfect unless every kind of charge which a shipowner would bring to book is carried to account. An account misrepresenting values is infinitely more dangerous than no account at all; an imperfect account, in my humble judgment, is infinitely worse than none."
Now, though he (Mr. Seely) admitted that the accounts had been improved, they were still very imperfect. Before 1865 the gentlemen having the management of the accounts actually omitted to charge in the cost of building ships the very wages of the foremen of the smiths, millwrights, ropemakers, caulkers, sailmakers, riggers, painters, joiners, &c, engaged in building them, as well as rent, taxes, the cost of surveys and valuations, and other items. Thus about £2,000,000 was omitted from account of cost of ships from 1860 to 1863. They even now denied that the pensions to artificers formed part of the cost of ships, when, as everybody knew, the wages paid were lower in consequence of those pensions. It was now admitted in principle that interest should be charged; but what a farce was the manner in which they had carried that out! The sum of £46,398 in 1864–5 for the first time was put down for interest. They admitted that they had upwards of £5,000,000 worth of stores; and was it not a fair estimate to put down £5,000,000 more for buildings, plant, machinery, and works for ships in progress? If so, they had £10,000,000 of money, on which £46,398, or not one-half per cent, was charged as interest for last year. It was the practice of men of business to charge 5 per cent interest on plant and buildings, 5 per cent additional as interest for depreciation of buildings, and 10 per cent for depreciation of machinery. An analogous rule to that was adopted in the case of the Army, so that there was the practice of a Public Department from which the dockyard authorities might take example. He maintained that it was complete nonsense to charge £46,000 as interest upon £10,000,000, as though it covered all the depreciation of plant and buildings. Apart from this, however, they had not yet got what Sir James Graham said they ought to get—namely, the cost of building every ship and gunboat. True, they had got the wages and the materials in each yard; but a large number of incidental expenses were lumped together from all the yards, and then divided pro rata over all the ships built in all the yards. The result was that any particular yard which might be economically managed as to its incidental expenses received no credit for it; whereas a yard which had an extravagant expenditure of that kind, as was the case at Portsmouth, got less than its true share of this branch of cost set down to it. Was that a clear and accurate mode of render- ing accounts? The fact was officials disliked these incidental charges. The Duke of Somerset seemed to have a particular objection to them. He would assume that the speech made in another place the other day, and a pamphlet which had been widely circulated on that subject, both proceeded from the same author. Now, at page 57 of that pamphlet it was said—"If the accounts were kept so as to show the exact cost of ships a competition in economy would be established between the different yards which would be of great benefit to Her Majesty's service."
He trusted the House would carefully watch the consequences that might ensue. They might get rid of the system of putting these "incidental expenses" into the account, and not get rid of having to pay for them. They might even have to pay more for them, when they were no longer presented as a separate item. He hoped it would not be thought that he was out of order if he referred to what had been said in "another place" as to the cost of the navy. In his speech the other night, the noble Duke said—"The misunderstanding which has already sprung up in the public mind from an erroneous view of these accounts will render it necessary to re-consider the mode in which the expenditure of the dockyards is now brought to account so far as relates to 'incidental expenses.'"
And in the pamphlet, at page 25, this was stated—"We also built by contract vessels at an expense of about £7,000,000."
Now, he (Mr. Seely) wanted to show the House that there was not £7,000,000 paid for vessels built by contract and for steam machinery, and that there was considerably more than £10,000,000 expended in wages and materials, according to the very figures put forward in that pamphlet. The total sum voted in six years for vessels built by contract and for purchasing steam machinery was put down at £7,296,802; but the total sum expended was only £6,255,886; and it was therefore rather incorrect to say it was about £7,000,000. And in the appendix to the pamphlet—a part of it which few people probably would read—there was this statement at page 79:—Labour at home and abroad, £6,971,143; materials used in shipbuilding, about £1,000,000 per annum for six years, or £6,000,000 altogether. These two items made a total of £12,971,143; and there was a difference, therefore, of £2,971,143, as compared with the statement put forth in the body of the pamphlet, that about £10,000,000 were expended for wages and materials. There was another remark calling for notice—to the effect that vast sums were spent for police and schools. The object of the noble writer was to show that the public dockyards were placed at a disadvantage as compared with private yards on account of these two items. If, however, they paid so large a sum to the police for watching their property, what was there in the organization of the public yards which rendered that necessary more than in the case of private yards? With regard to schools, the whole sum paid for them in the seven dockyards at home and the two abroad in six years amounted only to £26,772, or about £2,462 per annum. The object of the noble Duke's observations in another place evidently was to run down private yards and elevate the public yards; and he must confess his great regret that his Grace should have ventured to speak in the terms he had done of an hon. Friend of his and a Member of that House. To say the least, those observations were very ungenerous and in very bad taste. Whatever might have been the misfortunes, or even the faults, of the hon. Member for Bristol (Sir Morton Peto), at any rate he had done that which many Members of that House had not done, and perhaps never would do—he had conferred in his time a great public service on this country. During the Crimean war, when there was almost a deadlock between Balaklava and Sebastopol, who was the man that came forward to relieve our army from that deadlock? It was his hon. Friend, then the Member for Finsbury, who went to the Secretary for War and suggested to him that it would be very possible to lay down a railway; that he would willingly do that free of any profit, and put his whole plant at the service of the Government. That offer was almost immediately accepted, and he need scarcely say what was the result. But that was not all. A question was raised whether his hon. Friend could perform that and still keep his seat, even although he was not going to receive any profit. He resigned his seat for Finsbury; he did so in order to do some good to his country, and although thereby no benefit was to accrue to himself. Therefore, it was exceedingly ungenerous for a person in the position of the noble Duke to speak of him as he had done when his fortunes had become clouded. He (Mr. Seely) would not weary the House by repeating I the statements which he had on former; occasions made to show that the cost of vessels built in Her Majesty's dockyards was very much larger than that incurred for those constructed by private firms. He had then pointed out that eleven ships had cost £475,825 for repairs, according to the Admiralty given cost, but that if the items omitted which a private firm would add were reckoned, such as wages of foremen, rent, interest, &c., the real cost of the repairs would be about £610,000; whereas eleven similar new vessels could be purchased at the rate of £33 per ton and £55 per horse-power for about £477,000, or these repairs cost more than new vessels by £133,000. He would, in the next place, advert to some remarks which he had made last Session with regard to the cost of repairing certain boats. The right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty had charged him with extreme exaggeration because of those remarks, although he was good enough to acquit him of intentional misrepresentation, and had solemnly told him that a Member of that House ought, before he brought such accusations, to be very careful about his facts. He (Mr. Seely) had stated, amongst other examples then given, that at Portsmouth in 1864–5 one 25 feet cutter had been repaired at a cost of £66, when she could have been bought built now and fitted for about £30; but the right hon. Baronet had charged him with having substituted three for one. He should, however, quote from the Returns which he had moved for in consequence of the First Lord's contradiction of his (Mr. Seely's) statements, which gave the cost and the rate book price of building and repairing the boats in Her Majesty's dockyards for 1864–5, and ask the House whether in the statements which he had made he had or had not been guilty of extreme exaggeration. From the document to which he referred it appeared (Return 505, Boats, p. 32, line 8) that the dockyard given cost of repairing one 25 feet cutter was £50 11s. 7d., and if to that amount were added £21 18s. 5d., which would be about the same percentage for incidental and omitted charges that the last published accounts of the Admiralty showed, was added to the cost of ships, including the boats when the accounts were finally made up at Somerset House—namely, 43¼ per cent—the cost of repairing the boat in question would be found to be £72, as against £30, for which sum he maintained she could have been purchased newly built, including; the cost of £7 10s. for her fitting, £22 10s. being the price at which the Admiralty purchase 25 feet cutters, and £7 10s. being the dockyard rate book price for fitting a 25 feet cutter, as is stated in Return No. 505, p. 32, line 8, He also stated that eighty-three boats had been repaired at Portsmouth which it would have been better to have burnt; and the Returns to which he referred fully supported that statement, inasmuch as new ones could have been bought for about the same sum. Again, it appeared from those Returns that the repair of sixty-three boats in 1864–5 had cost (Dockyard figures) £2,505 at Portsmouth, which, if the percentage he had before indicated were added to it, would amount to £3,590, whereas they could have been purchased built new for £2,890. He should next trouble the House with a few individual instances copied from the Returns in question. At page 32, line 4, it would be seen that the repairs of a 26 feet cutter at Portsmouth Dockyard cost £56 19s., the real cost, including the items as given in Return 54, page 70, being £81, while she might have been bought built new for £27 6s. Again, a 25 feet cutter was set down as having cost £57, which could be bought built new for £22 10s. A 23 feet cutter, it further appeared, cost £60, which might have been bought built new for £20 14s.; a 30 feet gig £73, which might have been bought built new for £22; a 24 feet gig, £51, which might have been bought built new for £17 12s.; and a 25 feet whaleboat, £53—he included in each case the percentage—which might have been bought for £19 3s. 4d. From page 19 of the Returns it appeared that the cost of fitting four 27 feet whaleboats at Devonport, being all that were fitted, was £38 13s. 7d., while the rate book price of fitting amounted to £26 8s. At Chatham, two 27 feet whaleboats, all that were fitted, cost £41 1s. 3d. to fit, while the rate book price was £13 4s., Chatham's cost of fitting being double that of Devonport. Again, to take a particular example, at Chatham the cost of fitting one 27 feet whaleboat was £20 12s. 3d., as against the rate book price £6 12s.; whilst at Devonport, fitting a 27 feet whaleboat cost only £5 18s. 9d., rate price £6 12s., or Chatham fourfold Devonport. At Devonport, six 24 feet gigs, all that were fitted, cost to fit £34 17s. 8d., the rate book price being £34 4s., showing that the fitting could be done for that money; whilst at Chatham two 24 feet gigs, all that were fitted, cost to fit £30 13s. 5d., rate book price being £11 14s. 8d., or Chatham three or fourfold as much as Devonport. Having said thus much with respect to the boats, he should trouble the House with one or two items from the Accounts for 1863–4. He was obliged to go back to that year, for those for the last were so condensed that he was unable to criticize them. From the Return "Dockyards and Steam Factories No. 379," for 1863–4, under the head of "roperies accounts," he found that the cost at Chatham, Portsmouth, and Devonport was £322,863, while the rate book value and the price charged to the ships for these materials was only £279,825, so that there was an excess of cost over rate of £43,038, and £43,038 too little charged to the ships for these items, if they came into any ships' accounts before 1864–5. Again, he found that at Portsmouth 261½ tons of Riga tarred yarns cost £13,704, while the rate book value, or the price charged to the ship, was £10,532, the excess being £3,172. At Portsmouth, also, it appeared that three Dantzic topsail-yards, 15 inch diameter, cost £434, the rate book price being £150, so that the charge to the ship was £284 too little, and the cost was 190 per cent above rate. Yet at Devonport six Dantzic and red pine yards, 15½ inches, cost only £263, the rate price being £264, or Portsmouth's cost is nearly threefold that of Devonport, As furnishing another instance of mismanagement in our dockyards, he had last year mentioned that our dockyards had been paved with cold-blast pig iron made fifty or 100 years ago, before the hot-blast process was invented, and which iron had, before the introduction of steam vessels, been used in sailing ships as iron ballast; but the Duke of Somerset, speaking on the subject in "another place," was reported to have said that, considering the smallness of the amount involved, a great deal too much had been made of the matter. Now, he had no doubt that he and the noble Duke might differ in their estimate of what was a small or a large amount. The question was a relative one; but whether 35,225 tons of iron ballast, costing and being now worth £184,931, should or should not have been laid down in the dockyards as paving, when the very best granite or other paving could have been bought and laid down for a tenth of the value of the iron, was a matter with respect to which the taxpayer could hardly be assumed to be indifferent. He had also mentioned another point, and that was that since 1842 Messrs. Brown, Lenox and Co. had been paid for anchors something like £170,000 above the average prices at which four first-class firms had offered to make exactly similar anchors, subject to exactly the same tests as those supplied by Brown, Lenox and Co. The accounts had for a series of years been imperfect, and were not perfect yet. Accounts, however, were but a means to an end, and though the work in the dockyards might be very expensive, yet, if we had an efficient fleet, the country would not be inclined to grudge the expenditure. In the Committee of 1861 Admiral Bowles stated, in his evidence on the Syrian question in 1840—"The portion of the £17,000,000 which was actually paid for vessels built by contract, and for the purchase of steam machinery, may at once be struck off from any question of dockyard management. Nearly £7,000,000 was paid for vessels built by contract and for the purchase of steam machinery. … Excluding, then, £7,000,000 paid for contract work and purchases from the £17,000,000, there remains £10,000,000 expended in wages and materials."
And Admiral Bowles further said that, according to the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Charles Napier, the fleet sent to the Baltic in 1854 was "the worst fleet ever sent to sea by Great Britain since our naval history commenced;" and Sir John Pakington stated that—"That the French Admiral, who had an equal force with ourselves, soon found out how weakly our ships were manned, and how badly they manœuvred, and he wrote to his Government. … for permission to attack the English fleet, saying that he would answer for obtaining a complete victory."
And he afterwards said he did not blame any particular Minister, but the system; and went on to say—"The French went ahead of us in 1852 in the application of steam power to the larger and heavier class of ships, and again went considerably ahead of us in the invention and application of armour-covered ships. Of course I may be wrong; but it is my opinion that if you had not had a Board of Admiralty, and had had a Minister with concentrated responsibility, with the feeling that everything done or left undone would be visited upon him, the French would not have gone ahead of us as they did, either with respect to the application of steam to line-of-battle ships or the adoption of the invention of armour-covered ships."
And concluded by saying—"That in the late American war in 1814 we kept our frigates at 1,100 or 1,200 tons, until the Americans built ships which we could not cope with."
Sir John Pakington says the practice was to order three ships of the line a year, but only two had been completed; that in ten years thirty-seven were ordered, but only twenty-five built—there being a deficiency of twelve, or above one per year. The deficiency in frigates also was fourteen. Then, as late as last Session, the right hon. Baronet had stated that our Reserves were very deficient; and he (Mr. Seely) would corroborate that by a single fact which had been communicated to him on the highest authority. He was told that there was not a single vessel which could be sent to the African station when the vessel on that station had remained there longer than she ought to have done. That vessel came home in October, but no vessel could be found to supply her place, and she could not be repaired till the end of January. Now, it should be borne in mind that the rate of mortality on the African stations was very high indeed. In the Mediterranean it was 9·5 per 1,000; on the North American Station 7·9 per 1,000; on the East Coast of America 14·5 per 1,000; and on the West Coast of Africa 23·8 per 1,000. There was one other point which he desired to bring under the notice of the House. In the early part of the year 1863 the then Controller General of the Coastguard saw that in the Estimates of that year 500 additional men had been voted for the Coastguard service. He had not been consulted on the subject, and was not aware that there was any necessity for these men. He accordingly instituted inquiries in his office, but could not find any one who knew anything about the matter. Then he wrote to the Board of Customs, but they also knew nothing about it. He next spoke or wrote to the Accountant General, but the only reply he received was that the Admiralty had given the order for the additional men. In 1862–3 there were 3,850 men voted for the Coastguard; their pay was £172,044; there were 1,150 civilians, with pay amounting to £72,274—the total number of men being 5,000, and the total amount of pay £244,318. In 1863–4 the figures were as follows:—Men, 4,500; pay, £199,047; civilians, 1,000; pay, £62,921; total men, 5,500; total pay, £261,968. The figures in 1864–5 were:—Men, 4,000; pay, £173,739; civilians, 950; pay, £60,044; total men, 4,950; total nay, £233,783. Now, it was evident that this Department did not want the additional 500 men they asked for, because they did not take them on the next year. It was fortunate that, though the House in 1863–4 voted the pay for the additional 500 men, they did not vote the money requisite to find them in lodging and house-rent. When the Controller General pointed out this circumstance the answer he received was that the error could not be rectified till the following year. The only other matter with which he should trouble the House showed the want of any well-defined responsibility in the present system. It was a return of the quantity of steel or chilled iron shot or shell on board Her Majesty's ship Favourite, which sailed last spring to protect British vessels on the North American coast. It would be in the recollection of many hon. Members that it was thought last spring that possibly there might be a difference of opinion between the United States and England respecting the fisheries, and the United States sent an iron-clad fleet to protect their fishing vessels, whereupon the destination of the Favourite, which was under orders to proceed to the Pacific, was changed, and she was directed to go to the North American coast. Well, the Return which he moved for was to the following effect:—"I think it is perfectly fair to attribute these humiliating facts to the inherent weakness in the system of administering the affairs of the navy by a Board."
"1. When last sailed from England to North America?—April 24, 1866.
"2. Had she any steel or chilled iron shot or shell on board?—None.
"3. Have any steel or chilled iron shot or shell boon since sent to her; and, if so, how many, and when?—None have been sent; but 1,539 chilled shot for 7-inch guns have been issued to Halifax for the land service, and they could on an emergency be made available for the Favourite.
Now, this was a very serious thing, for if this vessel had met with an enemy and had not a single steel or chilled iron shot or shell on hoard she must have been taken. On whomsoever the responsibility might rest, it was clear that somewhere or other there had been a grave dereliction of duty. In conclusion, he thanked the House for the indulgence they had extended to him, and would simply ask them to give effect to the Report of the Royal Commissioners. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Resolution."4. If none have been sent, is it intended to send any, and when?—Steel shot and shell for the Favourite will probably be ready in about the second week in September, and they will then be shipped to Halifax."
MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
seconded the Motion.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That, in the opinion of this House, the control and management of the Dockyards is ineffi- cient, and that the inefficiency may be attributed to the following causes:—
1st. The constitution of the Board of Admiralty;
2nd. The defective organization of the subordinate departments;
3rd. The want of clear and well-defined responsibility."—(Mr. Seely.)
SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, the hon. Member for Lincoln has imposed upon me a somewhat difficult task, but I will endeavour to reply to what has fallen from him as candidly and fairly as I can. Where I think the hon. Gentleman is right I will fairly acknowledge it; but if I express an opinion that he has fallen into error, I feel assured the hon. Gentleman will not think I intend any disrespect towards him. In the first place, I wish for a moment to refer to what has been said with respect to the evidence which I gave before the Committee of 1861 as to the constitution of the Board of Admiralty. The hon. Gentleman has made quotations from the evidence showing the opinion I then ventured to express, and I am bound to state that I do not in the least degree recede from any opinion which I then stated. But I ask the House and the hon. Gentleman to consider the circumstances of difficulty, and I may say of responsibility, under which that evidence was given. I was one of the five First Lords of the Admiralty who were examined. The Duke of Somerset was first called. He was followed by Sir James Graham, Sir Francis Baring, and Sir Charles Wood. I was the last of those witnesses called, and, excepting the Duke of Somerset, I was the person who had held that office for the shortest period. All the other Lords had given evidence in favour of the existing constitution of the Board of Admiralty. Placed as I was in the witness-box on that occasion, of course I had only to give frank and truthful answers to the questions to which I was for three days exposed. I could only do that which I did—state the impression made on my mind during my short experience as First Lord of the Admiralty. I have not in the least changed the opinions which I then expressed. I do still think that for the administration of a great Department, a Board is a clumsy machine. I still think that from the constitution of that Board there is an absence of that direct responsibility which ought to exist in a great Department, and I cannot say that I think the constitution and the working of that machine is satisfactory, or well adapted to the dis- charge of the important and difficult duties which devolve upon the authority which may be intrusted with the administration of the navy. I must remind the House that this was not the first occasion on which I have been led to question the constitution of one of our great Departments. When I had the honour of holding the office of Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, I also filled that of Secretary of State for War. It was a most inconvenient combination, and I stated my conviction, both in public and in private, that if a war should arise and a time of pressure should come it would be impossible to proceed satisfactorily under such an arrangement. That prediction was verified; the Crimean war came, and under the pressure of the war the Government of the day saw the inconvenience and impracticability of that constitution of the War Office, and found it necessary to make a change. I have referred to the fact for this reason, to show the House how difficult it is to effect a change in any one of our great Departments. Although the pressure was so great and the change was necessary, yet from the time of the Crimean war to a year ago, it could hardly be said that the new arrangement of the War Office had been completed. It took many years to effect the change. After the avowal I have made as to the constitution of the Board of Admiralty, I am therefore not insensible of the difficulty which would attend an extensive change in that Department. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman may ask—If these are your views why have you not proposed to carry out those views by some practical change? My answer is this:—I have only been in office six mouths, and during that time I have had before me the question of the dockyards, and the state of the Navy, and my Colleagues have been engaged in considering the great question of the representation of the people. Therefore, I think, I cannot be open to censure if up to this moment I have thought it would be imprudent and unwise to introduce the subject to my Colleagues, and to press it upon their attention. If I continue to hold the office which I now hold, without giving any promise, I may say that so strong is my conviction that the constitution of the Board of Admiralty is not convenient—is not profitable to the public service, that probably I may hereafter consult my Colleagues as to whether some change may not be desirable. The hon. Gentleman has adverted to several subjects which occupied his speech in the House last Session, and which he again touched upon in a speech addressed to his constituents at Lincoln. When he spoke last year, I endeavoured to meet him with perfect fairness. It would have been presumption on my part to offer a detailed answer on all the subjects then brought forward by him. But the undertaking into which I did enter, and which I have endeavoured to redeem, was that I would, during the recess, give my attention to an investigation of the various facts which he had brought forward. Amongst these there was none that startled me more, that startled the public more—none that took me more entirely by surprise, than the statement with regard to the iron ballast in our dockyards, which has since gone by the name of "Seely's pigs." I said I would investigate that statement, and it may be satisfactory to the hon. Member to know that, so far as I have been able to ascertain, there was nothing unfair or untrue in the statements that he made. I really regarded him almost as a visionary when he came to my room at the Admiralty, accompanied by the hon. Members for Oldham and Stockport, and was told by the hon. Member for Oldham that he would repave the dockyards with anything I liked, and give me £100,000 for this ballast. I thought, to use a common phrase, they were chaffing me on the subject, and that they could not be serious. But I believe there was no exaggeration in the matter. On the contrary, I am told that if I had accepted that offer, those who made it would have made an excellent bargain. The course which the Admiralty adopted was this:—We called upon a house of the highest repute in Birmingham to make a selection of these iron pigs and analyse them for the purpose of ascertaining their real merit and market value, and requested them to report thereon. Messrs. Ryland occupied a considerable portion of time in making these experiments, and at length made a report stating that the iron consists of an unusual number of different sorts, I think ten or twelve, that two of these sorts were inferior; but that the remainder were valuable, provided they were sold to the parties whose purposes they would suit. It has been said that the Duke of Somerset spoke of the iron as being of inferior value. I believe the explanation is this:—The Admiralty had from time to time endeavoured to sell this iron, but they could never succeed in obtaining a proper price, and Messrs. Ryland said—
indeed, a sum not far from that mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. The Board of Admiralty were not satisfied with that one estimate made by Messrs. Ryland, but they applied to a gentleman whose name I have only to mention to show that he is a person of the highest possible authority—I mean Dr. Percy, the head of the mineralogical department of the Museum of Geology, in Jermyn Street. The report of Dr. Percy fully concurs with that of Messrs. Ryland. He expressed a high opinion of its value. The course which the Admiralty propose to pursue is this—to follow the advice of Messrs. Ryland, to select the iron, and then take it into the market, and if they sell it to obtain a fund towards strengthening the power of the British navy. Another point which was brought forward by the hon. Member last Session, and which has been again referred to by him to-night, is as to what he calls the loss of £170,000 by the course the Admiralty pursued in regard to anchors, and I am unable to say that I think the hon. Member entirely right on that point. I believe this is one of those cases in which, I am sure unintentionally, the hon. Gentleman has been led into a very extravagant statement. He told me last year that the Admiralty anchor was almost the worst in existence, and that the result of an inquiry before a Committee was that of eight different descriptions of anchor the Admiralty anchor was found to be the worst except one. The Admiralty anchor to which he then referred was, however, a different one to that now in use, which has been very much altered and very much improved in its construction by the makers, Messrs. Brown and Lenox. The hon. Gentleman arrived at the conclusion that the loss of £170,000 was the result of the difference in the price of the Admiralty anchor when compared with the price of anchors in the open market. But there is no price of anchors in the open market; the price depends on the weight and manner of manufacture. On coming into the office which I now hold, and examining into the state and number of anchors in our dockyards, I found that the supply of anchors was excessive, and that there was in stock a much larger number of anchors than there was any necessity to maintain, or than was required for the service, and from that time, therefore, we have bought no more. Although the contract with Messrs. Brown and Lenox still exists, I believe it to be in the interests of public business that it should be revised and determined, although I throw no blame whatever on Messrs. Brown and Lenox. The next point to which I desire to refer is one to which the hon. Gentleman referred in his speech at Lincoln, and where, I think, he was in error. The hon. Member alluded to the great extravagance in the Admiralty with regard to the manufacture of lead, and said he was told that they still manufactured sheet lead at a cost of 35s., when they could buy it for 5s., and the hon. Gentleman was met with cries of "shame." I should be sorry to cry shame against the hon. Gentleman; but if there is any ground for shame at all, I am afraid it must fall upon him, and not upon the Admiralty. I believe that to be a complete delusion on the part of the hon. Gentleman. I have in my hand an official statement from one of the Admiralty officers, showing that the representation of the Admiralty manufacturing lead at 35s. that could be bought for 5s. is completely untrue, and that at the lead mills in the Chatham yard, for instance, sheet lead, calculating the expenditure for labour, costs £19 12s. 6d. per ton, while the present market price in the open market is£20 10s., which is a considerable increase. The same thing occurs in other descriptions of lead, as for instance, in lead piping, which costs at the Chatham yard £21 6s. 2d., against £21 10s., the price in the open market. I believe the hon. Gentleman has been induced—I am sure without intention on his part—to make a complete misrepresentation. I will now refer to a point mentioned by the hon. Gentleman in his speech at Lincoln, and to which he has again referred to-night, and where again I believe he has been led into a very great and extensive error. I refer to the cost of the building of our ships. The hon. Gentleman's statements to-night were general; but on a former occasion his statements were specific, and last year he particularly called attention to three ships which he had selected—the Frederick William, one of our large line-of-battle ships, the Brisk, and the Cadmus. I shall have to go into some details, for without going into details it would be impossible to vindicate the Admiralty on those points where justice and truth require that they should be vindicated. The hon. Gentleman stated that the Frederick William had cost £281,691, while she might have been built, I presume the hon. Gentleman meant in a private yard, for £134,413. Now, my belief is that it is absolutely impossible for the hon. Gentleman to verify those statements. I know of no process or mode of construing figures by which the hon. Gentleman can prove that that ship cost £281,000. But—and I beg the hon. Gentleman's attention to this view of the matter—I think I have some right to complain of his selecting that ship at all, because she was not a fair specimen of the cost of building an English man-of-war, and for this reason. She was laid down as a sailing ship, and £84,000 was spent to make her a sailing ship, and she was afterwards one of the number selected to be converted into a screw steam man-of-war. An unusually large expense was therefore laid out upon her, and I do not think it fair for the hon. Gentleman to select her, and then, from that selection, to fasten upon the Admiralty a charge of great extravagance. But I have taken pains on this subject, and inquired of those most competent to inform me, and I cannot make out that the Frederick William cost more, including all her fittings, sails, masts, and yards, than £197,000; and I think, under the circumstances, that I have some right to say that the hon. Gentleman has made a great mistake. One of his other cases was that of the Brisk, a smaller ship, which, he said, might have been built for £49,321, but which had cost in repairs £43,498. I believe these figures are all of them entirely erroneous, and I am sure of this fact, that the Brisk, instead of being built for £49,000, really cost, when built, £59,700, while her repairs only cost £38,000. I rely for my figures upon official information, and I think it is to be regretted (assuming that my figures are right, and I cannot imagine that they are wrong) that the hon. Gentleman should make these charges and complaints of extravagance, which excite an outcry from one end of the country to the other, by means of figures which I believe to be entirely erroneous. So with respect to the Cadmus. The hon. Member said that vessel might have been built for £68,000, and that she had cost £65,000 for repairs. Here, again, I am told that the facts are totally different, and that she actually cost £85,000 when built, and her repairs cost only £59,000. Well, that shows that in every one of those cases the hon. Gentleman has been mistaken. I will now turn to another complaint made by the hon. Gentleman on several occasions in this House and elsewhere. In his speech at Lincoln he called attention to the fact that 14s. 2d. was the cost of one article in one of the Government yards, while a similar article cost £1 11s. in another of our yards. This is only one instance out of many in which the hon. Gentleman has complained of the inequalities of cost for similar articles which exist in different yards, and I quite admit that that is a blot in the management of our dockyards. I will not dwell upon that point now, because I will revert to the subject before I sit down; but I may say that I think our dockyards ought to be so conducted that such great discrepancies in price should not occur. I will now refer to what the hon. Gentleman has said both on this and on former occasions with regard to the Admiralty accounts; but I shall not trouble the House at much length on that point, because those accounts now stand in a very different position from that in which they stood when I last had the honour of holding my present office. That improvement in the accounts is due, in my opinion, to the steady, persevering, and consistent efforts of the late Board of Admiralty; and I believe that if there are two Gentlemen to whom more than to others our thanks are due for that improvement, it is to the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) and the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers). That improvement formed one of the most important portions of the Report of the Royal Commission of 1860, and it is only due to the late Board to say that they lost no time in addressing themselves to the subject. I will not dwell upon the details of the changes that were made in 1860, 1862, and 1864, under the auspices of those who occupied the office of Civil Lord, but it is impossible to deny that great and beneficial changes have been effected. I believe the hon. Member for Lincoln is right in saying that these improvements may yet be carried farther; in fact, I believe they have not been carried to the extent to which my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Childers), who has had so much to do with them, would desire; but the best proof that great improvements have been made is found in the fact that the terms of the hon. Member's (Mr. Seely's) Motion are borrowed word for word from the terms of the Commission of 1860, only omitting that part which referred to the accounts as being no longer applicable. Speaking under correction, for I may be wrong, I think the hon. Gentleman has taken an exaggerated view of the changes that ought to be made in the Admiralty accounts when he urges again to-night, as he has urged continually before, that the accounts and proceedings of our dockyards ought to be assimilated to the proceedings and accounts of private shipbuilding yards. Now, I do not believe that that is a sound or fair view of these transactions. The private shipbuilding yard is conducted for the profit of the owner, but Her Majesty's Dockyards are worked for the defence of the nation, and for the support of our national power. They are altogether on a different footing. The private yard is worked for profit; the public yard is not worked for profit. [Laughter.] I congratulate hon. Gentlemen if they find any comfort in that remark; to me it appears that there is small room for it. They must know the sense in which I said that our public yards were not worked for profit; they are worked for national honour and national defence. They differ most essentially from private yards. In a public yard the public, I admit, have a right to expect that the most rigid economy shall be practised; that the public service shall be carried on at the minimum of possible expense; and that there shall be no waste and no mismanagement. But if you tell me that our dockyards are to be worked upon such a system as that you can take the whole expense of every article in the yard, every store or building, and every inch of ground, and saddle a share of it upon the cost of every ship, you are misleading and deluding the public. The hon. Gentleman referred to a pamphlet which has been recently published, and the authorship of which is attributed to the Duke of Somerset, and he noticed, somewhat in terms of ridicule, the fact that the writer has referred to the presence of police in the dockyards. Now, private yards do not maintain a police force; they do not require a school, a chapel, and a variety of things which our great national establishments are obliged to provide. It is unreasonable, therefore, to saddle the cost of every ship with a share of expenses which are not incurred by private yards. I must therefore say that in that pamphlet, whoever may be the writer, a very reasonable and fair view has been taken of the subject. In my humble opinion that pamphlet is written in terms of great fairness and of great moderation, and I think it is calculated to do much good, and to remove from the public mind much misapprehension. I will read one passage from the pamphlet on this subject. It says—"If you take this iron into the public market, and endeavour to sell it you would get comparatively nothing for it, because it varies so much in description; it will only fetch its real and proper value when it is sold in a special market, but if carefully selected and sold with judgment and care we believe it will realize a considerable price;"
Whoever may be the writer of that pamphlet I entirely concur in the spirit and scope of that passage. Since I have held my present office I have given directions that the accounts shall be prepared in double column, and that in one column the real bonâ fide cost of material and labour for building our ships shall be entered, and, in the other, what would be the cost of each ship if all these extra charges were added, and its own proportion placed to the share of each ship. The hon. Gentleman also referred to the subject of boats; but I do think it a great misfortune, greatly to be regretted, that, while engaged in the task, the laudable task he has imposed upon himself, he should have taken so little pains to verify his statements, and have come down to this House, as he did last Session, with a statement which seemed—I really do not know how to express it consistently with due courtesy—but which was, at all events, so erroneous and exaggerated. In the printed papers from which the hon. Gentleman has drawn his information with regard to boats last year, there appeared in one line, "eighty-three boats repaired at a cost of £700;" and in the next line, "284 boats repaired at a cost of £5,600." The hon. Gentleman, however, took the eighty-three from the first line, and the £5,600 from the second, added them together, and made it appear that eighty-three boats were repaired at a cost of £5,600, and that, of course, was a very grave error. Now, he takes a barge for the Royal family and a barge fitted up for an admiral, and, giving the prices, holds them up as specimens of the cost of ordi- nary boats. This is a matter for great regret, and the only result will be that the public confidence will be shaken in statements made under such circumstances. I pledged myself last year that I would endeavour to ascertain what were the real errors in our dockyard system, and what remedies that system might require. I have endeavoured to redeem that pledge. I have spared no pains in making inquiries, both in the dockyards and elsewhere, and the conclusion which I have arrived at is that in our dockyards the first thing open to complaint is a certain laxity in the manner in which the whole system is carried out. I attribute that laxity mainly to the fact which we cannot disguise—that these are vast establishments carried on for the most part by persons who have no direct pecuniary interest involved. In large national establishments of this description it is of necessity difficult so to shape your system as to carry them on with that vigour, energy, and close attention to expenditure which exists in an establishment where every shilling tells in the pockets of the owner. I am contemplating measures which I hope will check this laxity; but one great evil—one paramount difficulty with which we have to deal, is the want of a better and more effective supervision. That I believe to be the real remedy, and it is to that, above all others, that I have endeavoured to direct my attention. The plan I propose to adopt I will now explain to the House. In 1862 the late Board of Admiralty, under the Duke of Somerset, made some changes in the personnel of the staff belonging to the dockyards, and certain functions of certain officers were changed. The officer who had hitherto been called the Surveyor of the Navy was thenceforth termed the Controller of the Navy. But another and more important change was also made. The management of the finances of the dockyards had previously not been conducted in so satisfactory a manner as was desirable, having been in the hands of the Accountant General, who was overwhelmed with more work than he could well do, with the dockyard accounts in addition to the whole finances of the navy. Under those circumstances, the late Board of Admiralty appointed a gentleman who was well known to that House and the country—namely, Mr. Walker, who had been a member of the staff of the Accountant General. They appointed him to the office of Inspector and Auditor of the Dockyard Accounts. But without intending any censure of the late Board of Admiralty, I must state that in this matter, as it appears to me, they only half did their work. The functions of Mr. Walker were ill-defined; he was called Inspector of Dockyard Accounts, but he had no real authority and no real responsibility, and he was placed in a position from which the public could derive no security that the dockyards would be better managed than they had been before his appointment. That state of things has gone on down to the present moment. When I undertook the investigation of this important subject, the first question that arose in my mind was how we might obtain a better and proper supervision. Upon that point I took counsel with the present Controller of the Navy, Admiral Robinson, a most able and zealous officer; and I received from him much useful information. I asked him whether he was able to manage those vast establishments, the Royal Dockyards, that being theoretically one of the duties attached to the office which he held; and he answered at once that he was not—that he had various other functions to discharge, and that it was impossible he could exercise in that case the necessary supervision. I next asked him whether he would approve of the appointment of a Deputy Controller who should, under his general authority, look after the management of those establishments; and the answer which he gave, after much consideration, was, that instead of creating the office of a Deputy Controller it would, in his opinion, be better to appoint an officer who should do that which cannot be done at present by Mr. Walker—that is to say, who should exercise an effective supervision over the whole of the dockyards. That is the course, too, which the Board of Admiralty now propose to adopt; and we have selected for this purpose Mr. Walker, who is, I believe, the most competent person we could find for the performance of such a duty. We intend to make him, under a new title, Superintendent of Dockyard Accounts; we intend that he shall give his whole time, aided by proper assistants, to the control of the working of these establishments, with the management and superintendence of the great financial expenditure which they involve; and it is to the action of this new officer that I look to put an end to that system of which the hon. Member for Lincoln has justly complained, under which one charge is incurred in one dockyard and another charge in another dockyard, and? which is incompatible with perfect efficiency and economy. I am not aware that I need trespass any further on the time of the House. I have endeavoured to redeem the promise which I gave that I would not neglect this great question. I am as anxious as the hon. Gentleman himself can be that this vast Department should be efficiently managed; but I must add that, in my opinion, it is of great national importance that one of these establishments to which we look for carrying on the public service should not be made the object of constant vituperation and attack. Wherever there is room for improvement let us have improvement. But I would entreat the hon. Member for Lincoln to remember that in the management of this business there are engaged gentlemen of as high honour and of as sensitive feelings as himself, and that those gentlemen are depressed, and dispirited, and vexed by these constant assaults. If there are evils in our present system—and I have frankly admitted that there are—let us proceed to their removal, and let us regard that as the great duty we have in this case to perform. I have stated what are the points on which I agreed with the hon. Gentleman, and I have also avowed, although I hope in no hostile or offensive spirit, what are the points on which I think that his allegations are erroneous or exaggerated. Towards the close of his speech he expressed an earnest hope that those who made grave statements would take care to verify them; and I must beg leave to apply that remark to himself. I wish he were a little more careful in all that he says. Whenever he makes what I cannot help regarding as misrepresentations, I shall feel it my duty to endeavour to correct him; but as long as he only seeks to provide a remedy for real evils, no one can be more ready to co-operate with him than I shall be. I have now, in conclusion, only to appeal to the hon. Gentleman not to press his Motion to a division; but if he should persist in submitting it to the House, I shall feel it necessary to move the "Previous Question.""The primary object of our dockyard establishments is not to rival private efforts, or to cheapen manufacture, but to secure a large body of skilled workmen, and the machinery necessary for building and repairing our ships of war. If a fleet of iron-clad steamers returned to our ports after an action at sea, and required repair, would the British Government trust to private enter-prize? It would be admirable if the enemy would kindly wait while Estimates were asked for and obtained, and the repairs then done; but what opinion would be passed upon a Government who dismantled the dockyards at the demand of manufacturers and economists?"
Previous Question proposed, "That that Question be now put."—( Sir John Pakington.)
said, that the main allegation of the Resolutions of his hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) was that the control and management of the dockyards is inefficient, and the constitution of the Board of Admiralty was merely assigned as one of the chief causes of that inefficiency. The speech of his hon. Friend, however, had been mainly directed to establish the proposition that the Board of Admiralty was inefficient and ought to be abolished. Now, it appeared to him (Mr. Stansfeld) that the constitution of the Board of Admiralty was a wider question than that of the control and management of the dockyards, and it was unreasonable to expect that the House should come to a decision upon the former point when it was merely invited to consider the other and the less important one. His hon. Friend, in framing his Resolution, had adopted the words of the able Report of the Commission of 1860, with the exception of that portion of the Report which related to the dockyard accounts which his hon. Friend admitted were at present of a reliable character—and a more useful Commission, and one composed of more able men, had ever reported upon a public department. But every one who knew anything of the state of the dockyards was aware that great improvements had been effected since the publication of that Report, not only in the mode of keeping the accounts, but in the organization and management of these establishments; and he (Mr. Stansfeld) therefore thought that the adoption of the language of the Commissioners of 1860 would imply too trenchant a condemnation of the system at present in force. The main question, then, was not the constitution of the Board of Admiralty but the efficiency or inefficiency of the management of the dockyards; and he would proceed to state exactly where, how, and how far he agreed, and where, how, and how far he disagreed with the reforming views of his hon. Friend upon that subject. He agreed with his hon. Friend that there was still a want of efficiency in the control and management of the dockyards; and he further agreed with his hon. Friend in assigning that inefficiency to the second and the third causes laid down, in the Resolution then before the House. But he did not agree with him in referring it to the fact that a Board was placed at the head of our naval system. He believed that they might obtain from a Board the best possible management of a public department, and he was further of opinion that there were many grave reasons why that House should hesitate before it determined on the abolition of the Board of Admiralty. It was very desirable that they should consider what was the extent of the meaning which the public attached to the charge of "inefficient management" of the dockyards. His hon. Friend had made a very moderate speech that evening, but he had spoken elsewhere, and perfectly conscientiously, no doubt, if not in quite so moderate a tone, upon that matter; and the impression produced upon the public mind by his speeches and the speeches of other gentlemen—or, at all events, the notion floating about among the public—was so much more serious than any one would imagine from the course which the present discussion had taken, that he (Mr. Stansfeld) thought it was worth while to endeavour to gauge and measure, and if possible to remove it. If he were to express fully the opinions which, as far as he could learn, many people entertained upon that subject, he should say that they were ready to believe that the dockyards, if they were not at the present day nests of jobbery were at least scenes of waste, which in its economical effects was almost as serious; that the accounts were intended to mystify rather than to enlighten the public, and that any improvement which had of late been introduced into them had been introduced—and this he had heard stated in the House itself—through the force of external pressure and not through the free action of the Board of Admiralty. The fact was that somehow or other everyone seemed prepared to believe anything that might be said against a Board, while no one seemed prepared to believe anything that might be said in its favour. There was a general predisposition to believe that a Board could not manage public business well. Now, with regard to that matter of dockyard accounts, he believed that it first attracted the attention of his hoi). Friend (Mr. Seely) in the course of the winter of the year 1863, and that it was first brought by him under the consideration of the House in the year 1864. In the year 1863–4 he (Mr. Stansfeld) served on the Board of Admiralty, and he had for his successor in office his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers). His hon. Friend and himself held themselves responsible for what had been done at that period in the matter of those accounts; and he believed his hon. Friend would be prepared to endorse his statement that the Duke of Somerset and the other members of the Board allowed them to deal freely with that subject, and that for what had been done they were immediately answerable. No doubt they could not hope to manage large public departments so as to be able to compare them favourably with success, ful private establishments during the period of their not always enduring success, and these, it should be remembered, were the only comparisons ever made in this case. They could not hope to do that unless, in addition to all the departmental energy and supervision which could be brought to bear upon the administration, they were also assisted by the public eye and by the criticism of members of that House who were competent to discuss these matters, and whose criticism was invited by laying the accounts before them. But the hon. Member for Lincoln would not deny that criticism lost half its force and value if it were unjust or even exaggerated, and therefore he felt justified in endeavouring, as far as it was right to do so, to moderate some of the hon. Gentleman's censures. He held in his hand a copy of a speech which his hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln delivered last month to his constituents, and he felt it his duty to qualify some of the criticisms in which his hon. Friend had upon that occasion indulged. His hon. Friend stated that he had found the dockyard accounts exceedingly imperfect, and that no account was given of a Bum of £2,000,000 which was expended in building and repairing ships during the four years 1860–3. Now his hon. Friend understood perfectly well the limited meaning which should be attached to those words, but there were many people for whom they would bear a very different and a much larger interpretation. The notion of those persons would be that during those four years a sum of £2,000,000 had been jobbed or at least flittered away and wasted; while his hon. Friend could have merely meant that, although the financial accounts of the navy were, as far as they went, model accounts for any public departments, and gave the House and the country a knowledge of every farthing that had been expended, yet there were not then expense accounts and balance-sheets in the dockyards accounting for the whole of that expenditure, and charging it all against ships and services. So what appeared a momentous revelation amounted merely to this, that previous to 1864 there was no system, or only an imperfect system, of expense accounts in the dockyards. His hon. Friend I further said, in the speech which he lately addressed to his constituents, that he had stated that in a document which had been furnished by the Admiralty certain items were omitted, that the truth of that statement had been denied, but that he had proved its correctness to a number of officials at Somerset House, and that the result was that in the last year's accounts from 35 to 40 per cent was set down for incidental expenses, the greater part of which was never charged before. The meaning of that statement was that the improvements in the Admiralty accounts of 1864–5 were not freely and of their own motion, nor even willingly, set on foot by the Board, but adopted only through the pressure which the hon. Member had brought to bear upon the Department by his arguments and speeches. But he (Mr. Stansfeld) should utterly deny the accuracy of any such statement. A short reference to dates would place that matter beyond the possibility of controversy. He joined the Board of Admiralty in the year 1853, and he then spent seven consecutive weeks at Portsmouth for the purpose of examining and revising the system of accounts. At the time he entered the Admiralty there were no exhaustive expense accounts. Sir Richard Bromley, who was a competent accountant and a very able man, would no doubt, if he had had the power, very easily have introduced the system, and was taking steps in that direction. He (Mr. Stansfeld) took no credit for having introduced a system of accurate and exhaustive expense accounts. All the credit he claimed was that, as far as time and opportunity allowed, he had taken pains to carry out the system. Up to the year 1863 there had been only tentative expense accounts. Each ship was debited with the cost of its materials and labour, and with a few other charges, and then, to meet the admitted deficiencies of that system, a certain percentage was charged over and above. When he (Mr. Stansfeld) came to look at the question he arrived at the conclusion that it would be right to do away with this system of dockyard accounts altogether, and to debit to every dockyard every actual fact of expenditure, whether wise or unwise; whether directly incurred in the shape of wages for labour, or in the shape of payment for superintendence and police; and then to place to credit on the other side of the books the whole outcome of the labour. Now all these general items of expenditure to which my hon. Friend referred, and the 35 per cent which was added to the price of labour and material, was abandoned in 1863, and the new system was laid before the Board of Admiralty, approved of by them, and finally laid on the table of this House in the month of March, 1864, while it was since that date that his hon. Friend had addressed himself to this question. He believed, however, he could account for the error into which his hon. Friend had fallen. He had only recently seen the accounts as they were printed for the subsequent years, 1864–5, and he found that the old error had been so far adhered to that an addition of 10 per cent was charged to the items which had already been made exhaustive. He went to Somerset House to inquire into the reason of this unauthorized edition. The reason assigned was not to his mind a good one, but such as it was he gave it to the House. He was told that the rate book was based on these charges, and that the rate book had not been revised since the change in the system of accounts was made. This addition to the cost, he believed, was the explanation not only of this particular error of his hon. Friend, but also of his other charge respecting sheet lead. It appeared from the accounts, said his hon. Friend, that sheet lead, as manufactured at Chatham Dockyard, was charged at £35 per ton, whereas it could be bought at the rate of £5. The inference plainly was that if the Government could not manufacture sheet lead as cheap as private establishments they ought to shut up their rolling mills. But the fact was nothing could be more economically managed than their rolling mills at Chatham; in fact, it was impossible to be more economical, for there was hardly any labour that entered into the charges, and nearly the whole charge consisted in the cost of raw material. But his hon. Friend, looking at these accounts of 1864–5, found there this charge of 10 per cent; he added it to the real charge, and then naturally cried out against the extravagance. This was an illustration of the soundness of the principle he had laid down, to admit nothing into the accounts but the items of actual expenditure. He might add that in 1863–4 there were no exhaustive expense accounts, because there was no valuation of stock and no continuous valuation. Any man of business would see it would be impossible to make accurate expense accounts until these two processes were gone through. His first object, therefore, was to take an account of the stock in hand, and a continuous record of the stock received into the dockyard and taken out would be found in the accounts of 1864–5. He also concurred with his hon. Friend in thinking that, instead of distributing the entire establishment charges over the whole of the ships in the service, it would be better so to arrange them that it might at once be seen in what dockyards the established charges were too heavy in proportion to the labour and material expended. Then his hon. Friend said that these accounts did not include pensions. He agreed with his hon. Friend that they ought to include pensions; for pensions entered into the expense as being really a part of the wages of labour. He came then to the interest that was charged upon the plant. Here he must draw a distinction; whether that interest was to be set down at £46,000, as had been done apparently on good grounds by his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), or whether it should be £500,000, as his hon. Friend (Mr. Seely) was disposed to estimate it, the House must remember that it was altogether fictitious. It was something of an adventitious nature super-imposed upon the accounts; but it formed no part of those accounts for which the Admiralty were responsible. Then came the question of the rate book. His hon. Friend expressed an opinion that the rate book was a thing they would be much better without. He (Mr. Stansfeld), on the other hand, was of opinion that the rate book was absolutely necessary, and he would show the House why. They made, for instance, yearly purchases of hemp from various quarters and at prices varying greatly from one year to another. They had in store in the dockyard cables made from that hemp, which were supplied to the ships as they were equipped for sea. Now, would it be fair to charge to one ship the full price of cables made from hemp when the material was high, while they charged to another ship a less sum for cables exactly of the same material but bought at a lower price? That would be clearly indefensible. The rate book enabled you to compare the cost of production in one yard with the cost of production in another, so that by means of it a large establishment could he economically conducted. In one column of the account was the actual cost of each conversion of manufactured articles, and in another the rate book price was charged. Therefore, having the figures side by side, it was easy to compare the price of every manufacturing operation with the average cost of that operation throughout the different yards. If you added up the total of the cost and compared it with the total of the rate book column you would get at the difference which in the accounts of 1864–5 was brought into the balance-sheet, and brought, therefore, accurately to account. He hoped that he had now shown that the accounts, as modified when he was in office, were based upon correct principles, and that the improvements which were still necessary were those which had reference, not to the books of accounts themselves, but to the ultimate balance-sheets and abstracts to be laid before that House. He hoped he had also shown that the Board of Admiralty had not adopted these improvements from pressure, but that they had freely been confided to him by the Board to carry out before his hon. Friend began to call attention to these matters. But, to use the happy phrase of the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, accounts existed only that they might be utilized. Well, he hoped they had been utilized—among other ways, by public criticism. He thought he had the honour of being the first to welcome the criticism of his hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln, and he should feel extreme regret if anything should induce the hon. Member to desist from the course of criticism which he had adopted. But the accounts existed for another purpose, prior both in time and importance to that—namely, in order that they might be utilized in the Controller's Department. In fact, they were so utilized, and he had been given to understand that the accounts of expenditure on wages and materials against ships and services were forwarded weekly to the Controller, and they were available for the superintendents of the dockyards. What they wanted was such an organization as the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir John Pakington) referred to in his proposed modification of the Controller's Department. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) informed the House that he had appointed to this new office Mr. Walker, the able head of the Dockyard Accounts, but he did not explain his position, except that he would be placed in closer relation with the Controller.
SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
He would co-operate with the Controller and be independent of him.
was sure that this arrangement of the right hon. Gentleman would be of great assistance and benefit to the Controller. He was not sure, however, whether the right hon. Gentleman might not have got what he wanted in the Accountant's Department, and he did not know if the right hon. Gentleman's attention had been directed to another department in that office for which he (Mr. Stansfeld) was responsible. He introduced there a new officer as Valuer and Inspector of Dockyard Works, whose special duty was to check all estimates of works, to watch over the quantities required for each undertaking, and to test the quality of the work when completed. His business was to see that the work was done economically, or to know the reason why. He believed that by a combination of these departments—the Accountant General and the Valuer and Inspector of Works being placed, as he hoped they would be, under the same roof—the views of the right hon. Gentleman would be effectually carried out. Let him now refer to the views of his hon. Friend (Mr. Seely) with regard to the construction of the Board. His hon. Friend objected to a Board altogether. But he (Mr. Stansfeld) would remind the House that in all the great business operations of this country, which were carried out on a scale approaching to that of the dockyards, there was either a Board or a very extended partnership. The great thing was for the Board to know how to confer power and discretion upon their subordinates, and to impose on them responsibility. The hon. Member for Lincoln talked of the appointment of such men only as knew their business. On that head he would appeal to the experience of his hon. Friend himself. He had been at the head of a very large manufacturing establishment, and he would ask him whether he ever felt that he was competent to enter into every minute detail in that manufactory of his own personal knowledge? Did he ever feel it necessary that he should have that personal and intimate knowledge of details which he thought ought to be possessed by a Member of the Board of Admiralty, or by a Controller or Superintendent? What they wanted at the head of these large establishments was not simply practical men, but men capable of taking large views. He could not consent to the Resolution if it meant the abolition of the Board of Admiralty, because the Board existed for other purposes besides the management of the dockyards. That was a wide and grave question for the House to consider whether they would interfere with the present constitution of the Board of Admiralty. The tenor of the evidence given in 1860, and the views of those who were called before the Committee, and particularly the opinion of the late Sir James Graham, was very strong against the abolition of the Board. The professional view of the question had been put forward in a readable, and no doubt clever and sound article in the Fortnightly Review by Captain Sherard Osborn; but he thought that House would never adopt it—namely, to have in the Navy a double Department, similar to that which at present existed in the Army, with which he (Mr. Stansfeld) believed no officer in the Army was in love; and, further, not being content with an Admiral Commanding-in-Chief, the First Lord should not have a seat in that House, but be a Member of the other House; because they should withdraw the management and policy of the navy from the control and interference of the House of Commons. With regard to the dockyards themselves, he was of opinion that it was advisable to reduce their number. Deptford Dockyard, he thought, might be satisfactorily abolished, because when they compared the expenses with the result they found it did not pay, and the work done at Deptford could be done at either of the other dockyards without any appreciable increase in the establishment charges. Woolwich might also be abolished when a favourable opportunity offered. He was one of those who thought it was unnecessary to have a Royal Dockyard on the Thames. The House must not forget that they were largely increasing the dimensions of our dockyards at Portsmouth, Chatham, and Devonport, and when we had completed the scheme of construction at Chatham, he thought Sheerness would become useless. He concurred with the hon. Member for Lincoln that the expenditure of the establishments should be kept down, and the number of men entitled to pensions reduced to an understood minimum, and the least possible number of ordinary labourers. He also agreed with his hon. Friend that no rule ought to be laid down to the effect that the Superintendent of our dockyards should be a naval man, or that his term of office should not extend beyond three or five years. A man should not be appointed for life, because he might get too old for his work, but he would appoint him for five years, renewable at the end of that time if he was found to be a fit man and capable of discharging his duties. His belief, however, was that, all things considered, the navy would furnish them with the best men to fill those offices. With reference to the Controller's Department, we had a Storekeeper now upon an equal footing with the Controller. That arrangement dated from Sir James Graham's time. At that time the Controller of the Navy had under him the Surveyor on one side and the Storekeeper on the other. The Controllership was abolished, and many years after he was called the Surveyor; but recently he had been again called the Controller, with more authority than the Controller of old possessed, and the Storekeeper should be simply a buyer as subordinate to the Department. He was glad to find that the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) was about to place the Superintendent of Accounts and the Valuer and Inspector of Dockyards in closer communication with the Controller. The man upon whom ought to rest the main responsibility under the Controller, for the correct and economical business management of the dockyards, was the Inspector and Valuer, who had been appointed in the hope that he would properly discharge those duties; and if he were the Controller he should expect the Inspector and Valuer satisfactorily to fulfil those functions, with reference to the criticisms of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lincoln, and either be able to forestall them or refute them when made, or if not, to exercise the greatest economy. They had heard and read a great deal about dockyard extravagance, and the notion had been suggested from time to time of the possibility of re-constructing our fleet, and of the saving that might be effected. Now that was a misapprehension and a delusion. The total annual expenditure in our dockyards was always less than £3,000,000, and every business man very well knew that a saving of 10 per cent was a successful economical operation, and that on £3,000,000 would be £300,000. In considering the economical management of our dockyards they should consider what he called the policy of our naval administration—that policy which affected the number of officers and men, and the scheme of their pay and of their pensions—the construction and re-construction of our fleets, and the disposition and employment of those cruising squadrons which at the present time seemed to swarm on every coast. Those were the important subjects which it would be necessary for them to discuss on a fitting opportunity. They were much too wide to be discussed on the Resolutions which had been submitted to the House, but when the proper time arrived for dis- cussing them he should be happy to take his humble share in it.
LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, that however ready the House might be to acknowledge the great services rendered to the country by the improved system of accounts which had been instituted by the hon. Member for Halifax, yet the Motion before the House must be borne in mind. The question was whether the dockyard system was or was not efficient; and if inefficient, from what causes the inefficiency proceeded. Two courses were open to the hon. Member for Lincoln: he might have attempted to prove the conclusions of the Commissioners, as to the dockyard inefficiency, from the facts revealed in their Report, and from other facts which had come under his notice. This was the course he took. The inefficiency of the system seemed generally admitted; but yet the hon. Member endeavoured to prove it from various positions; he said that the superintendents should not be naval officers, and that they should hold the office of superintendent for more than seven years; he also went into the details of public expenditure, and the private circumstances of the hon. Member for Bristol. The fault of this course was that the evils were not traced to their sources; the hon. Member had not gone to the root of the matter. Assume it to be all true which he had asserted, yet he had not shown the causes, and therefore could suggest no remedies. The other course which was open to him was to assume the correctness of the conclusions to which the Commissioners had arrived after their very laborious and detailed examination of the matter, and then to turn round on the Minister and say:—The inefficiency of the dockyard system was clearly established in 1861, and the causes of that inefficiency have been proved; what has since been done to remove those causes? Remedies were then suggested; which of those remedies have you adopted? The hon. Member for Lincoln had taken the words of his Motion from the Report of the Commissioners of 1861, with one remarkable omission. The first cause to which they assigned the proved inefficiency was "the constitution of the Board of Admiralty;" this debate had left the truth of that conclusion, in regard to the present time, still in doubt; because the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) surrendered what the hon. Member for Halifax defended. It was therefore open to outsiders to doubt whether the constitution of the Board was not still one of the causes of non-efficiency. The second cause ascribed by the Commissioners was "the defective organization of subordinate departments." That point he would leave for the present, as he would afterwards enlarge upon it. The third cause ascribed was "the want of clear and well-defined responsibility;" and here the right hon. Baronet yielded the position to the hon. Member for Lincoln, because he admitted that there was a want of such responsibility. The hon. Member for Halifax had virtually done the same, when he advocated the creation of one undivided responsibility for the whole. The fourth cause assigned by the Commissioners was not noticed by the hon. Member for Lincoln. It was "the absence of any means of effectually checking the expenditure and the want of accurate accounts." In this sentence two causes of inefficiency were ascribed. The latter had been very much removed by the exertions of the hon. Member for Halifax. More was about to be done in the same direction by the First Lord of the Admiralty. He was going to appoint a "Superintendent of Accounts," to remove the anomaly of "one price being charged in one yard, and another in another yard." It was evident, therefore, that this new office was to be merely a check after expenditure. But the Commissioners had also adverted to "the absence of any means of checking the expenditure," and by that expression the Commissioners meant, as he conceived, some means of checking the expenditure before it took place. On this point nothing had been done. He would presently show what the Commissioners possibly contemplated. The Commissioners proposed seven or eight remedies for the evils which they mentioned. These might be reduced to two heads. They recommended that all the subordinate departments should be entirely independent of each other, but that all should be placed under the Controller General of the Navy, to whom alone the Minister should look for the efficiency and economy of the dockyards. The Storekeeper General is especially mentioned; they recommended that be should be placed entirely under the Controller. This, they said, would obviate the frequent complaints that the description of timber (for example) which is sent is not according to the requisition, or that it is "not of the contract dimensions," or that it is "in excess of the quantity required." For it appeared that a loss of as much as £100,000 was sometimes occasioned when contractors sent in timber in too great a quantity, or not of the proper scantling; which the storekeeper at the dockyard was always very apt to receive. They also recommended that the head of each department should have the appointment of the officers in his department; that those appointments should be taken out of the hands of the First Lord of the Admiralty; as that functionary was liable to be influenced by political objects, and election jobbery was likely to take place in the dockyards. Very little, he believed, had been done to carry out those recommendations of the Commissioners. At the end of the Report of the Commission of 1861 there was to be found a detailed memorandum of the Controller of the Navy, Admiral Robinson, in which that gallant officer complained that the Controller of the Navy had "no authority in the dockyards, and therefore no direct responsibility." He also especially mentioned the Storekeeper General, and complained that he "is entirely independent of the Controller." Admiral Robinson therefore recommended, as the remedy, that the Storekeeper's Department should be consolidated with the Controller's Department. The Controller's Department would then have four distinct branches. 1, the Ship Building Branch; 2, the Engineers' Branch. These there were already. 3, the Account Branch; the business of which would be to estimate the money value of the stores, and keep an account both of those which came in and those which went out. This would be the substitute for the Storekeeper General's Department. He understood the hon. Member for Halifax to say that this part of the recommendation had also been carried out, and that this branch was called "the Stock Account Branch." 4, the fourth branch of the Controller's Department, according to Admiral Robinson's recommendation, was the Store Supply Branch. Thus only, said Admiral Robinson, can "the Controller be directly responsible for all the control and management and expenditure of the dockyards." The hon. Member for Halifax said that "the Storekeeper, who was the buyer for the Controller, ought to be put under the Controller's orders." Thus he also seemed to recommend the creation of a Store Supply Branch. How were the different stores purchased? They were bought sometimes by public advertisement for tenders, and sometimes by private tender. Occasionally, the purchase by private tender was proper, as particular firms might make certain articles of machinery or patent anchors better than other firms; but he was afraid that in many other cases, where the stores should be bought by public tender, they were kept in a few hands, by means of limited or private tenders. He thought that the purchasing was the point where a check on expenditure was required. This he conceived was the meaning of the fourth cause of inefficiency and extravagance ascribed by the Commissioners. In the Contractor's Department an officer, called the Registrar of Contracts, was appointed a few years ago by the Duke of Somerset; and the reason assigned for the appointment was, that there ought to be some check on the expenditure before the expenditure had taken place. That is to say, as this House was the check on the National Expenditure before it had taken place, and the Audit Board was the check afterwards, so in the Departmental Expenditure the Contract Department should be the check before, and the Departmental Audit afterwards. But, in practice, the Registrar of Contracts only registered the acts of others, endorsing transactions which had already taken place without his sanction, and giving legal effect to agreements which had been made without his cognizance. There was, therefore, no check on extravagance of expenditure here. When the head of a department was already overburdened with work and confused by multiplicity of details, it was not to be expected that in making purchases he would trouble himself by haggling for the reduction of a farthing in the cost of this or that article; though where large quantities were bought, as in the case of timber, the difference of a farthing in the price might save thousands of pounds to the country. Therefore, there ought to be some person appointed, whose sole business should be to make these purchases, and to reduce the price before purchase as much as possible. There should be a check on the expenditure before it was made. That check can be obtained only by providing as far as possible a single and undivided responsibility. This was the true principle of checks, whether in national or departmental administrations or expenditure. Each department should alone be responsible for its own service, and for that service only. Now, however, the sub-departments in the navy not only administered their services, but also made purchases; they purchased what they liked, when they liked (that is, whatever the state of the market might be), in whatever manner they liked, where they liked, and on whatever terms they liked. It was always pleasant to a department as well as to an individual to spend money, and especially the money of others. Still more likely was a department to be careless in spending money, for that money belonged not to an individual, but to many; and the head of the department was too busy with details to be strict in purchasing. The latter power—the purchasing power—he would take away from them and transfer to the Contractor's Department. The Contract Department could then be made responsible for the expenditure, and the departments for the efficiency of their several services. The latter would make requisitions for what they wanted; and the Contract Department would buy for them. They would watch with jealousy the expending of their votes by another department, and would soon make it known if there were any careless expenditure, or if they were furnished with a bad article. The love of spending must be checked by another mental tendency. You must call in departmental jealousy to meet the departmental love of extravagance. This was the principle which the House affirmed last year in the Audit Bill; and it was the only true principle in every case. A check on the expenditure would then be introduced, when the administering departments jealously watched the department which spent the money.
said, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) was entitled to the thanks of the House for the important services which he had rendered in calling attention to this subject. The allegations of insufficiency made by the hon. Member for Lincoln, although not in the precise direction, had been confirmed by the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty. No one impugned the grounds of the proposition of the hon. Member—namely, first that those who governed should understand the matters upon which they governed; and it was notorious, as a matter of fact, that not a few of those appointed to govern our naval affairs were unacquainted with the matters over which they presided; another ground was that having a good servant, it was the duty of the Department to retain his services; but the present system superseded those services at the end of three or five years—a blot on our system, admitted by the hon. Member for Halifax and by the First Lord opposite (Sir John Pakington.) Although the Board of Admiralty had been administered by some of our ablest men for years past, yet they did not hesitate to admit that many grounds of complaint still remained, and ought to be removed.
MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
claimed the indulgence of the House in addressing it on the Motion of the hon. Member for Lincoln. He had been for a few weeks only a Member of the late Board, and most of the matters which had been referred to in the debate had occurred two or three years ago, consequently he feared he should scarcely do justice to his late colleagues. He should not, indeed, have ventured to speak on the present occasion if it had not been that during the autumn he had had an opportunity of visiting the only two countries with the navies of which we need concern ourselves—the United States and France, and acquainting himself with the organization of their dockyards. Many hon. Members would recollect that an hon. Baronet (Sir Morton Peto) had last Session told the House that having recently visited the dockyards of America, he had come away with feelings of humiliation for his country. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) felt bound to say, however, that to his mind there was no comparison between our dockyards and those of the United States. The American establishments were under the superintendence of naval men, and the minor officials were precisely of the same character as they were in this country; but politics were allowed greatly to interfere. It was the usual course in America that the minor officials of dockyards, but not the superintendents, should be changed with the change of Government. While he was in the United States President Johnson made a great many changes, and amongst them were a large number of dockyard officials. Such a practice he should think must greatly interfere with the efficiency of the system, but it probably did less harm than would be the case in this country; for Americans seemed to be more ready than Englishmen to turn from one profession to another. Comparing what he had seen at Portsmouth and Plymouth with what he had seen at Philadelphia and Brooklyn, he could not for one moment doubt that our yards were infinitely superior. The supervision of labour was better, the work was better done, and the diaries of labour and the accounts generally were more perfect in our yards than in the American. The Americans manufactured a great deal more than we did, especially in the matter of anchors, cables, and machinery. He was told that they had found it necessary to do so because they could not get work of such excellent quality from private firms; and the experience which they had had in the blockade of Charleston and Wilmington had shown them the supreme importance of having good anchors and cables. This circumstance might be quoted in explanation of the conduct of the Admiralty in purchasing their anchors from Messrs. Brown and Lenox, who for a long series of years had continued to supply the very best anchors. With respect to the central Administration at Washington, it was more simple and complete than our own; it was a Government of civilians, and it was divided into nine Departments; but it differed from ours in having no responsibility to Congress, for the Secretary of the Admiralty had no seat in Congress as our First Lord had in Parliament. It must be recollected also that in America the military professions were much more under control of the civil than was the case, or could be under present circumstances, with us. If, like the hon. Member for Bristol, he felt any humiliation while in America, it was with regard to the manner in which the navy of this country had been discredited by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman at the close of last Session on the state in which our navy was left by the late Board. He believed that that statement was unfounded; but it should be recollected that the remarks made in that House went to other countries, and formed public opinion there. That was the case in America and France, in both of which countries he had found an universal belief among civilians that our navy was no longer to be feared. When he asked for the grounds of such a belief he was almost always referred to the speeches of the First Lord of the Admiralty, the statements in which, he was bound to say, had been greatly exaggerated by the press. [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON: Hear, hear!] And here he was requested by Sir Frederick Grey, one of the members of the late Board, to explain that the memorandum which he had left on the state of the reserves of the navy, and which had been produced by the present Government, had been completely misunderstood. Sir Frederick begged him to state that he was not referring to the state of the navy generally, but to a certain small class of vessels—namely, paddle-wheel steamers—a matter of very minor importance—and that he was making no reference whatever to ironclad vessels, corvettes and frigates. It would be gratifying to the hon. Member for Lincoln to know that there was a very simple explanation of his complaint respecting the Favourite. When that vessel was sent out Palliser's chilled shot had not been adopted, but she had steel shot on board and the ordinary cast-iron balls; nor had the American squadron any better armament. There was one point on which he agreed with the hon. Member for Lincoln—namely, as to the post of the Controller of the Navy. If a civilian could be found fit for the post, he ought to be placed there, but he did not believe that a person better qualified for the office than Admiral Robinson could be discovered. If competent civilians could be found for the offices of Superintendents of Dockyards, by all means let them be appointed, but he apprehended that it would not be easy to find suitable men. In both France and the United States the superintendents of dockyards were naval men—the reason given in both cases being that naval men were on the whole found most competent to deal with the various matters which came before them, and which included many things besides the building of ships. As to our dockyard accounts he could only say that they had been very greatly improved by the late Board, but they were yet capable of some improvement. They wanted another chapter showing the correlation between the sums voted in the Budget and the expense accounts of the same year, and when that was supplied they would be in some respects better than those of the French navy. He might observe that the valuation of our neighbours' fleet was set down at £18,000,000; that of their docks, including the breakwater at Cherbourg, £15,000,000; and that of their stores, £10,000,000. He did not find that in the value of their ships they included interest on the value of their stores and buildings. He could see why we should do so. We had large stores not for the purpose of immediate manufacture but as a reserve in the case of war so as to be prepared for emergencies. The hon. Member for Lincoln, however, was quite able, for purpose of comparison with expense of building in private yards, to add a pro rata charge for stores and plant to the cost of every vessel, if he could persuade anybody that that was a fair course to take. The same remark applied to the police and some others of the incidental expenses. The hon. Gentleman found fault with the Duke of Somerset's calculation of the amount spent on the dockyards during the last six years; but he thought that the noble Duke's calculation (£12,000,000) was perfectly accurate. For that sum 109 vessels had been built, while the average number of ships in commission that had been repaired was 210, and the average number of ships in reserve which had been repaired and refitted was 350. It was quite clear, then, that the operations of our dockyards were enormous, and though he did not deny that there was a margin within which economy might be possible, he did not think that much could be done in that way so long as our policy required us to keep up squadrons in China, in the Pacific, at the West Indies, and in almost every other part of the world. With respect to the late Board of Admiralty, it was true that the office of Civil Lord, which he held for a short period last year, witnessed numerous changes during the preceding six years; but the Duke of Somerset, Lord Clarence Paget, and Sir Frederick Grey were members of the Board during the greater part of that term, and there had been a continuous system of management, which had, he believed, rendered greater service to the public than had been of late represented. He might add that its policy had been equally uniform; and he trusted that if the present Board lasted as long, it would be able, when it left office, to give as good an account of its doings, and receive more credit from the public than their predecessors.
, having lived for a number of years in the neighbourhood of a dockyard, knew a good deal of what was going on in the naval establishments, and he could not concur in the general censure pronounced by many hon. Members on the administration in our dockyards. It was he thought unfair to compare the management of the dockyards which should be carried on on the principles approved of by the House, with that of private dockyards, as to which no such restrictions existed. The creative and the critical faculties could scarcely be exercised together. He considered it a salutary thing that the Board of Admiralty was responsible to Parliament, as he believed that evil could not long exist from the fear of exposure in that House. The discussions which took place in Parliament were a sufficient guarantee that whatever might be wrong would not be long allowed to remain unremedied. He had sat on Committees in which the questions under discussion had been considered, and the opinion expressed by the majority of the witnesses examined was to the effect that it would not be desirable to separate the action of the Board of Admiralty from the control of the House of Commons. With reference to the comparisons instituted between the public and private dockyards, he might mention that he had some disagreeable experience of the management of private concerns as an original shareholder in the Great Eastern concern, not, however, to an extent to call for any large amount of sympathy, but sufficiently to show him how such matters were conducted. If what happened in that instance had happened in respect of any of our public dockyards they never would have heard the end of it. The Great Eastern was, no-doubt, a very useful vessel, but she was a splendid monument of the fact that all the great movements of the country depended upon the supply of that very valuable class—the dupes. With regard to the keeping of the dockyard accounts, he remembered one of the superintendents saying to him, some years ago, that when a ship was built more economically in his yard than she would have been in one of the others, he got no credit for the economy, owing to the accounts being mixed up. Now, he thought a separation of the accounts would be useful. He believed that naval officers made the most efficient superintendents of the yards, among other reasons, because there was a general confidence felt by the workpeople in their perfect impartiality. He did not lay much stress upon the familiarity possessed by a superintendent with some one kind of work, believing that where operations of the most diverse kinds were necessarily conducted in one and the same yard a general power of governing well was better than mere detailed acquaintance with some special branch. The rule under which superintendents were compelled to leave the yards on hoisting their flag as admirals had the effect he thought of shortening their term of office injudiciously. In the yard with which he was best acquainted, owing to this rule only two superintendents had served out their full period of five years. It would, he thought, tend to better management if the period of holding the office of superintendent were extended.
only ventured to occupy the attention of the House for a few moments upon one portion of the statement of the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) which took a wide and extensive range. The subject to which he alluded was that which had reference to the Storekeeper's accounts of the navy, and to the Controller's Department. It had been generally admitted that considerable improvement was effected during the last year in the accounts of the navy. He had no doubt that was so; but on looking over those accounts he could not help feeling that, whatever amount of knowledge was possessed on the part of the Controller, who was supposed to understand all those accounts, it would be quite impossible for any one to arrive at a sufficiently clear and satisfactory knowledge of the cost of each department to enable him to form a judgment as to whether the cost of the work done was reasonable, or the object of it a proper one. It seemed to him that there should be no great difficulty in assimilating the manner of compiling the accounts in the dockyards to that in private yards. The whole object of an account was to place clearly and accurately before a person the amount that had been spent, and the manner in which the different items comprising the whole had been apportioned; and there ought to be little difficulty in accomplishing this, whether in a Government establishment or in a private one. The accounts in their present form did not enable hon. Gentlemen to ascertain what had been spent on each vessel, which was a piece of information that was of the first importance. He also considered that it would be impossible to arrive at a satisfactory arrangement unless the whole of the accounts connected with the constructive department were removed from the Storekeeper's department and put under the control of the Controller, for divided responsibility must always be a source of confusion and mischief. The hon. Gentleman proceeded to explain that one cause of difficulty was that the materials used in shipbuilding yards came into the dockyards in one form, and left the yards in a very different form and with a very different value, and unless this was kept in sight, and a simple plan adopted of estimating the difference and of correcting any excess or deficiency in it, errors must inevitably ensue. He did not, however, consider that it was necessary, except for the purpose of instituting a comparison between the expenditure in public and private yards, that interest should be charged in the accounts upon the plant in the dockyards, because the case was not the same as in the private yards. The expenditure was voted every year without, of course, any expectation that any interest upon the plant in the dockyards would be obtained.
said, that the principles which were now generally admitted to be the only sound basis for dockyard accounts were explained in a memorandum which he laid upon the table in the latter part of 1865. He was glad to see that this paper had received the general approval of the House. He considered that the hon. Member who had just spoken had rightly laid down the state of the case with respect to two points in the accounts which had been questioned by the Member for Lincoln. He had correctly explained the principle on which the rate book prices should be adjusted from time to time, and also that the difference between the rate book value and the actual cost of articles shown in the manufacturing accounts should go either in the reduction or in the increase of the incidental expenses spread over the ships of the year, before the balance was struck. He had also rightly argued that the sum taken in the shape of interest on the plant ought not to be classed with the actual expenditure, but should only be estimated for the purposes of comparison with private yards. He (Mr. Childers) did not pretend to assert that the accounts, as they were now laid before Parliament, could be said to be perfect. It was no light task, he could assure them, to effect a revolution in accounts amounting to millions, referring to seven different establishments, containing a vast number of different shops and factories, which had for a long space of time been compiled by the officers in a particular manner. He considered that it was much better to work the necessary change gradually, and in a tentative way, by the substitution, as far as possible, of sound for unsound principles, rather than attempt to revolutionize the whole method at a stroke, which could only have ended in failure or in delay in the presentation of the accounts. There were three elements of a general balance-sheet in accounts of this nature. The first was the cash account, and it was necessary that the account of the expenditure of each year should be so stated that it might clearly be seen how much had been applied to the dockyards, exclusive of all other services. The next was the store and manufacturing account, showing the amount of stores in stock at the commencement and end of the year, those received and issued, and the result of the processes of conversion and manufacture. The third was the capital account, which ought to show the value of the plant and public property in the dockyards, and the depreciation and cost of maintenance during the year. These three accounts should be brought together in a general balance-sheet. If his hon. Friend who had criticized the accounts of the dockyards would refer to this paper and the forms attached to it, he would see that when carried out they would complete the accounts of the dockyard. He was not blaming the present Board of Admiralty for any imperfection in these accounts up to the present time, but pointing out the further steps which should be taken to carry out to the full the object of his paper. He fully agreed in the suggestion that the general charges should be distributed over each dockyard, instead of being stated in lump, and he hoped that this would be shortly carried out. The Member for Lincoln contended that the amount put down as interest on capital was insufficient, and that it ought to be £500,000 instead of £46,000. But this idea was, in his opinion, founded on an entirely erroneous view of what the dockyards really were. The object of the Royal Dockyards was not merely to build ships in time of peace. If we were never to contemplate a great foreign war, and only had to keep the police of certain seas, and to move about troops and distinguished persons, we should condemn the dockyards as a nuisance, and contract for our ships with private firms. The House would not tolerate dockyards on such a theory, and would not expend £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 in their construction, or keep £5,000,000 worth of stock in them for any such purpose. The dockyards were maintained in order that we might be prepared for any sudden outbreak of war, and were thus one of the best guarantees for peace; and it was therefore absurd to charge as a matter of business, and for comparison with private trade, the interest on the stock, plant, and value of dockyards maintained for purposes of war. But we had sought for a sound principle, and it was thought fair to charge 3 per cent on what was called the "out-turn" of the year, and for this rea- son, that on the average of years it was found that in the private trade the outturn was about equal to the value of the plant and stock in hand. That principle was arrived at after due inquiry among private firms. Having stated these few points in connection with the Admiralty accounts, he hoped that he might be permitted to say a few words upon the general merits of the question. The management and control of the dockyards had been condemned as inefficient; and the question had also been raised whether the department should be administered by means of a Board or by means of a Secretary of State. Without entering into this last question to any great extent, he would say that the management of great manufacturing establishments was not the only duty of the Board of Admiralty. Whether this was better intrusted to a Board or a Secretary of State was a fair matter for discussion; but before abolishing the Board it would be necessary to consider its action in other and far more important matters, and also the machinery to be substituted for it. If, for instance, the navy was proposed to be administered as the army is, by a Secretary of State in Pall Mall and a Commander-in-Chief in Whitehall, he would infinitely prefer the present state of things. But as to the dockyards, he was ready to admit that a Board was a bad administrative machine. The House looked very little at the patronage of the navy or to the movement of the fleet, which used almost solely to engross consideration, but paid great attention to the proceedings of the Admiralty as supervising these manufacturing departments. The responsibility for them to the House should therefore be undivided; and the advice of the late Sir James Graham in 1860 was, he thought, sound—namely, that the First Lord should look to the business department as little as the head of the Board, and as much as a Minister of Marine, as possible. He would point out one way in which this might be done to great advantage. The Board consisted of two civilians, the First Lord and Junior Lord, and four Naval Lords. The business of the dockyards was specially under the supervision of the First Sea Lord; but the purchase of stores and other incidental matters of that kind were under the management of another Sea Lord. The result was that these two Sea Lords, who might not be Members of that House, and the senior of whom had not been during ten years past, were the members of the Board of Admiralty who were specially concerned in the dockyard administration, and who were practically, over the Controller, the managers of the dockyards. That he would suggest was an unsound system. What were the primary functions of the First Sea Lord? He was what might be called the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet, responsible for the movement of our squadrons and for the selection of the ships, and he was, so to say, interested in there being as large an expenditure as possible upon the navy. His business was to bring the efficiency of the fleet to the highest possible point; and, however able or honest he might be, the very nature of his functions as Naval Commander-in-Chief could not but incite him to increase the outlay upon ships. The First Sea Lord, therefore, who was in that sense "the spending Lord" as to the fleet, ought not to be the same member of the Board of Admiralty who had the general management of the dockyards, and to whom they must look to carry out the greatest practicable amount of economy. He would recommend that the First Lord of the Admiralty, when he was a Member of the House of Commons, and when not, that the person representing the Board in this House should be what is called the superintending Lord in respect to dockyard economy, and the member of the Board to whom the Controller should look, and whom he should consult in matters concerning the dockyards. If that change were made, and the Parliamentary representation of the Admiralty in that House were directly responsible for the management of the dockyards, he felt sure that the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) and the Controller would be in a much more satisfactory position, and that the House might then expect to see a more economical administration. It also appeared to him, from his experience, that there was a good deal of double action, that although the Controller was made the channel for conveying orders to the dockyards, yet sometimes orders went from the Admiralty to the dockyards without being sent through that officer. That, he thought, was wrong; all orders should go through the medium of the Controller to the dockyard, and he should be entirely responsible for their work. The House should see that there was not a double, or even a treble responsibility as to these matters. With regard to the superintendents of the dockyards, he was bound to state that he concurred to a great extent with the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) as to the inexpediency of the present arrangement, under which no civilian could be the Superintendent of a dockyard, and no Superintendent could hold office for more than five years, while if in the meantime he obtained high professional rank he was at once dissociated from the dockyard. It was not desirable that the civil officers employed in the dockyards should be led to think that they had any right to be promoted to the post of Superintendent; but the Government ought not to be debarred from appointing a good civilian to such an office. And so, also, when a good sailor filled it it was most unwise that as soon as he had learnt his trade he should be "shunted" off merely because he had risen to a higher rank or because his five years had run out. Again, among the officers in the dockyards he thought there were too many grades; and during the year he was at the Board one of those grades—namely, the rank of measurers—was done away with, decidedly to the benefit of the public service. But there were still in the shipbuilding department of the dockyards six ranks—namely, the master shipwright, the assistant master shipwright, the foreman, the inspector, the leading man, and the shipwright, besides the subordinate labourer. There was no private establishment in which it was found necessary to have so many ranks in the hierarchy of administration; and it would be better to reduce them, probably, to four, or at least five. His hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) had spoken of the absolute necessity of reducing the establishment; and there was no change which the late Board of Admiralty had carried out with greater success than their gradual reduction of the establishment. What they required to have was a permanent nucleus of skilled artizans, admitting of a large expansion in time of war. But they had a large number of common dockyard workmen still called established who could not be discharged without receiving considerable compensation, and who were entitled after a certain time to a pension. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman opposite would dispose of that class altogether, by letting it die out gradually, and also by reducing a considerable number of the established shipwrights. With respect to the number of dockyards, especially the three dockyards in the Thames, there could be no doubt that they ought to get rid of two of them. Sheerness must be got rid of as soon as the extension of Chatham was complete; and they might, at the same time, perfectly well dispense with Woolwich, and transfer to Deptford some of that work connected with the receipt of stores and machinery that now went on at Woolwich. It would also be most prudent to abandon all shipbuilding at Deptford; and as to Woolwich, he made no doubt that when the depression of the shipbuilding, trade was at an end it could be leased at a great profit, and, at the same time, would almost be available for the navy in time of war. A very considerable improvement would thus be effected. By having fewer dockyards, and in that way reducing the unnecessary business that passed through the Controller's Office, they would add to the efficiency of that office; and by reducing the grades of the officers and increasing the responsibility of the principal officers in the yards, they would meet the objections urged by the Commissioners of 1860. And if the principles stated by the right hon. Gentleman opposite were fully and fairly carried out by the present Board, the House would have great reason to thank the right hon. Baronet, as well as to thank the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely), for having consistently brought forward these Motions for a series of years, by means of which, though with some mistakes—he would not say how many—he had done much good service, and contributed to enforce reforms much needed for the efficiency of the service in the difficult time of transition through which we were going.
rejoiced to hear the declarations made that night on the subject of the reform of the Board of Admiralty by the right hon. Baronet the First Lord, and trusted that the needful alterations would be effected without any un-necessary delay. The conversion of vessels from one class of ships to another had been often referred to as not having proved very beneficial to the country; but there was another kind of conversion which was, perhaps, equally open to criticism—he meant that undergone by great naval reformers who, as soon as they got appointed to the Board of Admiralty, were found to stand up for continuing things very much as they are. He sincerely trusted the right hon. Gentleman would be able to carry out his good intentions, for he had no hope that any reform would come from his own side of the House. He was of opinion that every person connected with the Admiralty should be appointed by, and be responsible to, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and that the office of Storekeeper should be entirely abolished. He concluded by thanking the First Lord of the Admiralty for his promise.
remarked that an hon. Gentleman had made a comparison between the naval establishments of England and America, and had drawn a conclusion favourable to the former; but he had not offered a single figure for the consideration of the House to justify those conclusions, and such arguments, therefore, were little better than beating the air. It would be more to the purpose if a comparison were made with a State nearer home, whose naval progress had greatly alarmed many Members on the Conservative side of the House; and from an official report, as regards the constitution and practice of the French navy, which he held in his hand, he found that the head of the French navy was a Minister of Marine, who alone issued orders, who alone was responsible, and who took care that his orders were obeyed. He had the assistance of a Council of Admiralty, in which there are four Vice Admirals with £800 per annum each, a Rear Admiral, a Director of Naval Construction, and a Commissary General, each with £600 per annum. The Secretary has £360 per annum, as contrasted with the English First Secretary at £2,000 per annum. In this Council two Captains of the navy have seats with £200 per annum each, and lodging money. The Minister of Marine has also the assistance of a Council of Works, in which are a Vice Admiral, two Rear Admirals, one Captain of the First Class, and two Chief Engineers for Construction. He has also under him Inspectors of Artillery, Engineers, Infantry, Hydraulic Works, and the Medical Department. The French Admiralty Establishment consists of 318 persons, besides the Councillors, and in 1865 the total cost was £73,036. The English Admiralty in the same year employed 451 persons, and cost £175,957. The Admirals and naval officers who sit as advisers to the Chief Minister of Marine in France must each of them have passed a mathematical examination, while such a qualification seemed to be deemed of no consequence whatever upon our Board of Admiralty. Then at the dockyards in France a debtor and creditor account was kept of all the materials used in the yards, both as regards quantity and value. For instance, 10,000 cubic feet of timber value "so much," are entered on one side of the account on receipt; and when issued for work it appears on the other side of the account, as 3,000 cubic feet value—so much for such and such a ship, or purpose—and such entries enabled the manager of the yard at any moment to ascertain what stock was in the yard by' the simple process of adding up four columns of figures. Until new forms were introduced by the hon. Member for Halifax no system of account-keeping worthy of the name was practised in our naval yards, while in India a system similar to that carried on in France had been in use for the past thirty years. As to the cost of our navy compared with that of France, he found that in 1865 the French navy, the activity in which had caused a panic in England not long ago, cost £5,131,826, as compared with £10,394,421 for our navy during the same time. He thought that the manner in which things were now conducted was inconsistent with the interests of the country, and that a good deal of money might have been saved with a little economy, and he believed that the establishment of a Secretary of State for the Navy and the re-organization of the Admiralty Establishment, would be equally conducive to efficiency and economy. Whatever might be the result of the Motion, he was quite sure the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) deserved the thanks of the country for the attention which he had bestowed on the subject.
was of opinion that there was a large body of Gentlemen in the House who regretted the manner in which the naval patronage was abused, every post, from that of a naval cadet to that of an admiral, being filled up by patronage and favour. That, however, was a subject which he should probably again refer to on some future occasion. He might mention, however, an anecdote in which he was personally concerned, which would exemplify the manner in which some of our affairs were conducted. An application was made to him by some gentlemen connected with the Admiralty to allow them to see a manufactory of his for making casks by machinery, and having complied with the request, four or five intelligent and competent men paid a visit to his works, inspected his machinery, and expressed their admiration of it. A very few months afterwards he was invited to inspect machinery put up at Woolwich, and having seen it he considered it was better than his own, and on expressing his surprise that those who possessed such good machinery should pay him a visit, the gentleman by whom he had been invited informed him that his former visitors were connected with the Admiralty, and occupied another portion of the yard. He then ventured to express his wonder that the machinery had not been shown to his visitors, and that they had not availed themselves of its evident advantages, upon which he was told that if the people from the department he was in showed those connected with the other department how to make sawdust into gold-dust, they would still refuse to have anything to do with it. The mode of making contracts for the Admiralty was most defective, and in the purchase of timber and staves he could show them how; to save a very large sum indeed. He suggested that the First Lord should consider whether some improvement could not be made in the mode of giving out the contracts.
LORD JOHN HAY
did not believe that there was any more apathy in the House now than formerly on the subject of navy patronage; but the fact was that things were no longer as they had been, and it was no longer necessary for the House to exercise that sharp supervision over the actions of the Board that was formerly employed. He wished to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he would lay on the table of the House the circular issued by Messrs. Ryland, and also the communication of Dr. Percy on the subject of ballast? He asked for the production of the former document, because he was informed that its effect was not exactly that stated by the right hon. Gentleman, and that Messrs. Ryland did not state that they would give £6 per ton for the ballast, but that they wanted 5 per cent for selling it.
said, that the interest in the question before the House had subsided to a great extent since the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty had stated that if he remained in Office he should consider it his duty to consult his Colleagues about some important changes. Personally, he regarded as the great fault in our dockyard system the fact that there: was no one connected with any of the establishments directly interested in the exercise of economy. He would suggest the encouragement of competition between the different dockyards, and that a premium should be awarded to the men in one dockyard if under similar circumstances they produced vessels at a less cost than in another dockyard. At present every effort was devoted to the production of a superior article, and no attention at all was devoted to economy. The two ships which had of late years excited the greatest admiration were both built at Chatham, and the Wyvern and the Scorpion, which have been so generally decried, were built at a private yard belonging to an hon. Member, who was not then in his place. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would lay upon the table the Report as to the value of the iron. He thought that on this subject there had been some mistake. It must not be forgotten that, although it was now valued at £100,000, the iron had done good service since it had been laid down as a pavement. The heavy weights continuously traversing the yard would have entirely destroyed any pavement of wood or stone. ["Oh!"] He could assure hon. Members that had the yard been paved with stone it would have required continual repairs. Therefore, laying down this iron as a pavement was not such a piece of folly on the part of the Admiralty as the hon. Member for Lincoln supposed. He trusted that, after the statement of the right hon. Baronet that he intended to propose an entirely new constitution for the Board of Admiralty, the hon. Member would not divide the House upon the subject.
SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
wished to say, by way of explanation, that he was sure the noble Lord (Lord John Hay) did not intend to convey what his tone and words implied—that he (Sir John Pakington) intended to mislead the House. He begged to state that he did not in the least mislead the House. At the same time, he would consider whether it would be desirable to lay the Reports on the table. The report of Messrs. Ryland was brought to the Admiralty by Mr. Ryland, and in conversation with that gentleman he was informed of the real value of the ballast. Dr. Percy also formed a very high opinion of the value of the iron, and in his Report said it was quite as fit to be used for the purpose of making chilled iron shot as that now being used, the price of which was £6 per ton.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
, in reply to one or two questions that had been put to him with reference to the proposed improvements in the constitution of the Board of Admiralty, wished to state that the duties of the new officer, the Superintendent of Dockyard Accounts, would rather assist those of the Valuer of Dockyard Works than clash with them. It was the duty of the Valuer of Dockyard Works to examine and report as to the nature of the repairs of ships, &c, and as to the amount that should be expended upon them, while it would devolve upon the new officer to report to the Controller how the money had been expended, and whether it had been so expended in obedience to his orders. With respect to the question whether the present Board of Admiralty had any design to take steps to ascertain whether the sums now voted for the pension fund would be charged to the general expenses of the dockyards, he understood that the Controller of the Navy would be requested to communicate with the new accountant of the yard, with a view to consulting an actuary for the purpose of calculating the deferred annuities which would represent the value of the pensions to each artificer. Then as to the question respecting the sum of £10,300,000, which it was stated had been spent during 1864–5 on the navy. A large proportion of that money was spent on what he might call the dead-weight service, comprising half-pay and pensions, and it should not be forgotten that the Vote for transporting troops from one part of the world to another was included in this sum. The hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) considered that the Controller must be placed in a position of great difficulty, and of comparative inefficiency, if any orders were issued at the dockyards by other means than through the Controller himself. The right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty had issued stringent orders that no member of the Board of Admiralty was to give any order involving the expenditure of public money in the dockyards without the knowledge of the Controller. One great object had been gained in the course of the night's debate. General testimony had been borne to the great efficiency of the present system of accounts which they owed to the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), and which would be pushed one step further by the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty by the proposed appeal. It was also gratifying to find that there seemed to be an almost generally recognized opinion in the House that no fair comparison could be made between the cost of ships built in private yards and those built in Her Majesty's Dockyards.
said, there was general concurrence upon another point—namely, that the House was under an obligation to the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) for the manner in which he had brought forward this subject, and raised a very useful and most satisfactory discussion. He (Mr. Horsman) came down to the House that evening prepared to offer his best support to his hon. Friend, but he found that he really did not require it, for he was met by the right hon. Baronet opposite in a spirit of such fairness and frankness that he appeared to get all he desired. The right hon. Baronet began by saying that he himself intended to reform the constitution of the Board of Admiralty, and that the Duke of Somerset had entertained the same views, and he (Mr. Horsman) thought the evidence given by both of them before the Committee of 1861 did them the highest honour. There could be no better testimony to the judicious manner in which the Motion had been brought forward than was afforded by the fact that they had been addressed by officials of both the present and the late Board of Admiralty, and yet no one of them had construed a word in it into a censure or attack of any Administration. The question was a large one, and nothing appeared to him to show more completely the inherent defects in the system of Admiralty administration than the attacks which were made upon it year after year. Notwithstanding a succession of the able administrators at the head of the Admiralty, not only had there not been a cessation of these continual complaints, but there had been hardly a diminution of them. The right hon. Baronet admitted that the constitution of the Board of Admiralty needed reforming, that there was a defective organization in the subordinate departments, and that there was a want of clear, well-defined responsibility. The right hon. Baronet admitted everything, and so far as he could do in the absence of those he must consult, he promised everything. He did not know what more the hon. Member for Lincoln could desire, and his suggestion to him was, that he should be satisfied with the success he had achieved, and not mar it by pressing his Motion to a division.
, in reply to the observations made by the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) on the subject of anchors, said, that he had only heard the explana- tions offered on that point for the first time that evening; but he (Mr. Seely) had made the calculation that the Admiralty had paid £170,000 more for anchors than they ought, by comparison with specific quotations for Admiralty anchors from four of the first firms in the kingdom. With regard to the market price of anchors, it was self-evident that there must be such a market price. He would not go into details on the subject of the Frederick William, the Cadmus, the Brisk, and the boats, and other matters disputed, and he would only say that it was exceedingly important that there should be no dispute as to the facts; and he made the offer to the First Lord that his (Mr. Seely's) secretary should meet any Admiralty official, and thoroughly investigate the facts, and if he (Mr. Seely) was wrong, he would apologize to the House for having unnecessarily taken up their time. All he and all the public wanted was to find whether the statements he had made were true or not, and the truth or the contrary should be ascertained by investigation. A great portion of the statements he had made had passed un-denied. As to the question whether only naval officers should be appointed Controllers and Superintendents, all that he wanted was that men should be appointed who understood the duties required of them, and who were fit to perform them. Men knowing nothing whatever of manufacturing operations should certainly not be appointed to the management of large manufacturing establishments. The master shipwrights, the chief engineers, and others should have a responsible head over them who understood the work, and who would not be obliged to leave almost everything in their hands. He hoped the right hon. Baronet would give his best attention to these matters, and that his opinions would have great weight with the Government of which he was so able a Member. In conclusion, he begged to withdraw his Motion.
Previous Question and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.