House Of Commons
Thursday, 30th April, 1874.
MINUTES.]—SELECT COMMITTEE—East India Finance, Mr. Fawcett, Mr. Campbell-Banner-man, Mr. Dalrymple, Mr. Balfour, and Mr. Dunbar added.
SUPPLY— considered in Committee—NAVY ESTIMATES.
WAYS AND MEANS— considered in Committee—Consolidated Fund (£13,000,000).
PUBLIC BILLS— Select Committee—Holyhead Old Harbour Road * , Building Societies *  nominaled.
Considered as amended—East India Annuity Funds * .
Third Reading—Game Birds (Ireland)* , and passed.
Controverted Elections—County Of Leitrim
MR. SPEAKER informed the House, that he had received from Mr. Justice Lawson, one of the Judges selected for the Trial of Election Petitions, pursuant to the Parliamentary Elections Act, 1868, a copy of an Order relating to the Election for the County of Leitrim. And the same was read, to the effect following:—
"In the matter of the Election Petition for the County of Leitrim, Francis O'Beirne, Petitioner, William Richard Ormsby Gore, Respondent.
"On hearing Counsel for the Petitioner for an Order that the Officer do place the Petition in this matter upon the List for Trial, and that thereupon the Petitioner he at liberty to proceed, and on hearing Counsel for the Respondent;
"It is ordered by his Lordship that the Motion be refused with costs, and that the Petitioner do pay same to the Respondent when taxed and ascertained in the ordinary manner."
The Truck System—Masters And Servants—Legislation
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department. If it is his intention this Session to introduce a Bill for the better suppression of Truck or a Bill for the payment of Wages, in conformity with the recommendation of the late Royal Commission on the subject; also, if it be his intention this Session to introduce a Bill for the amendment of the Law relating to compensation in case of injuries or deaths caused by negligence of employers, or persons acting in their place or in their behalf?
said, in reply to the first Question of the hon. Member, that it was not the intention of the Government this Session to bring in a Bill for regulating the Truck System. No one entertained greater objections to the system than he did; but hon. Members must remember that a Commission had investigated the question, and that a Bill had been brought in in consequence of their Report, although not very much success had attended the whole operation. The matter was under the consideration of the Government, but they had no intention of introducing a Bill on the subject this Session. The subject referred to in the second Question was at the present moment under the consideration of the Government.
Strike Of Agricultural Labourers—Question
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is true that boys at a Reformatory in the parish of Milborne St. Andrew's, Dorset, supported wholly or in part by grants out of public funds, are being employed by farmers in that neighbourhood to do the work of agricultural labourers now on strike; and, if so, whether he will take steps to prevent the boys in public Reformatories from being so made use of?
Sir, I have made inquiries on this subject, but I have not been able to obtain any definite answer as to actual facts. I understand that it has always been the practice of the Superintendent of this Reformatory to allow the boys at the Reformatory to work for the farmers at a certain rate of wages, and that in consequence of that the Reformatory is kept up practically without any expense to the Country and with great advantage to the farmers. So far as I have been able to learn, there has been no difference in their employment since the matter to which the hon. Baronet refers in his Question has taken place, and in my opinion there ought not to be any difference, but they ought to work exactly for the same terms and at the same places as they did before.
French Commercial Treaty, 1872—British Salt—Question
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, What steps have been taken under the Treaty of Commerce to obtain from the French Government a reduction of the Duties on the importation of British Salt into France?
I am well aware. Sir, that this is a Question in which my hon. Friend's constituents take a great-interest. It is now the subject of negotiation between Her Majesty's Government and the French Government. It would not be expedient to lay Papers before Parliament at present; but I can assure my hon. Friend that the matter is receiving the best attention of the Foreign Office.
Prevention Act—Inspectors Of Nuisances—The Police Nuisances
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he is prepared to alter the order issued by the Home Office respecting the appointment of police as inspectors of nuisances, so that in future the sanitary authority may, if they think fit, appoint police to perform these duties?
, in reply, said, he presumed this Question had been put to him in consequence of the action the Government had thought fit to take in regard to the duties of the police in Scotland. It was not the intention of the Government to make any alteration in the existing order with regard to the employment of police in sanitary matters in England. There was a clear distinction between the cases of England and Scotland. In the first place, the police in England were tinder the authority of the Home Office; but so far as sanitary matters were concerned they would be under the direction of the Local Government Board. In the second place, there was in Scotland a universal feeling that the police should be employed as Inspectors of Nuisances; whereas in England public opinion ran for the most part in a contrary direction.
The Suez Canal—The International Commission—Question
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If he could inform the House whether it be the fact that the Suez Canal Company was unrepresented on the International Commission which recently altered the Canal Transit Dues in the interest of the vessels using the Canal?
Sir, the International Commission, which assembled at the invitation of the Porte at Constantinople in October last, was composed exclusively of delegates of the Maritime Powers. It follows that neither the Suez Canal Company nor any of the ship companies whose interests were opposed to the Canal Company could have a representative on the Commission. But St. de Lesseps was free to bring his case before the Commission; but he never showed any disposition or expressed any wish to attend. In point of fact, his views were amply considered by the Commission, and were fully stated and powerfully advocated by M. Rumeau, one of the French Delegates.
The National Gallery—The New Buildings—Question
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether it is the intention of the Treasury to authorize the necessary expenditure for the construction of the New National Gallery, in accordance with the understanding long ago come to with Mr. E. M. Barry, a new facade being rendered necessary owing to the unsightly additions lately made to the present building?
I can find, Sir, no evidence whatever of any understanding being come to with Mr. E. M. Barry about a new façade; but realty the pith of the Question is whether Her Majesty's Government intend to erect under the circumstances a new facade. Now, the erection of a new facade is a very delicate business, and considering we have not yet been three months in office, I may say I shall require considerably more time to inquire into the subject before I could embark in such an enterprise. At present Her Majesty's Government have no intention whatever of proposing to the House the erection of a new façade.
Saving Life From Shipwreck—Mr Rogers' Plan—Question
, asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether it is the intention of the Government to adopt Mr. Rogers' plan for saving life from shipwreck; or, if they are not yet prepared to do so, whether they propose to take any, and if any, what steps for further testing the utility of that invention, with the view of its general adoption on the coasts of the United Kingdom if proved to be more efficacious and certain in its results than the existing rocket system?
Sir, Mr. Rogers' plan for throwing a double rope, with blocks attached, at one cast out of mortars into ships in distress, instead of the generally adopted practice of throwing first a rope by a rocket over the ship along which a block may be communicated, has had a fair trial, in accordance with the inventors' conditions, by the Board of Trade, and the received practice has been preferred by all the best authorities. There appears no reason for a repetition of the trial.
Intoxicating Liquors Bill
asked the Secretary of State' for the Home Department, Whether under the new Licensing Bill, in taking away the discretion of magistrates as to fixing the hours of closing, it is intended also to take away their power of extending the time under special circumstances?
, in reply, said, that he regretted that the Bill was not already in the hands of hon. Members. He believed it was to be in the Vote Office that night, where any hon. Member might procure a copy of it. It was not the intention of the Bill to prevent the granting of occasional licences, by the Justices, such as the hon. Member alluded to in his Question. The only difference was to this extent—that the occasional licences which authorized the sale on special occasions and in other than licensed premises were granted now by the Excise and countersigned by a single magistrate, whereas by the new Licensing Bill they would be less restricted than at present. Occasional licences did not at present, except in the case of a public dinner or ball, authorize any sale beyond one hour after sunset. It was proposed by the Bill to authorize the sale in these cases up to any hour not later than 10 o'clock, which the Justices might specify in the occasional licence. In the case of an occasional licence granted on the occasion of a public dinner or ball, the practice had been to specify in the licence the hour at which the licence should expire, and liquor might be sold up to any hour without restriction if the Justices so specified it in the licence. That was retained in the present Licensing Bill,
asked the President of the Board of Trade, If there is any reason why the agricultural statistics of the United Kingdom should not be taken in the month of June, and a summary of them published in July?
Sir, the Agricultural Returns are taken in the third week in June of each year; but owing to the very great number of Returns it is impossible to compile a summary within two or three months after their collection.
Parliament—The Whitsuntide Recess—Question
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, When he proposes that the Whitsuntide Recess should commence, and whether he intends that it should extend over the third of June?
Sir, I shall propose to the House that we should adjourn on Friday, the 22nd of May, and meet again on Monday, the 1st of June.
asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether it is the intention of the Government to carry out the agreement entered into with Western Australia for free emigration to that Colony?
Sir, this question was considered by the late Government, by whom it was decided that there were not sufficient grounds for recommending to Parliament a Vote for the purpose of sending emigrants to Western Australia.
Ways And Means—Committee
Considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Resolved, That, towards making good the Supply granted to Her Majesty for the service of the year ending on the 31st day of March
1875, the sum of £13,000,000 be granted, out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom.
Resolution to he reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.
SUPPLY— considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
(1.) £602,757, to complete the sum for Wages to Seamen and Marines.
said, that the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty with regard to the state of the Navy had created a great deal of alarm; but he thought that on investigation it would be found that whatever were the shortcomings of the late Government, there was no necessity whatever, either for sensational Estimates, or for spasmodic shipbuilding. In dealing with this subject, he should accept the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, which was to the effect that we had of iron-clads built and building, but that really only 18 of them were fit for service. [Mr. HUNT: I said for the service of the year.] For the service of the year. The right hon. Gentleman first divided the ships into two classes—those suitable for sea-going, and those suitable for harbour defence, of which there were 41 of the former, and 14 of the latter. But then of the sea-going vessels 5 were building, which reduced the available force to 36—a number which was perfectly in accord with the Returns laid before the House. Of those 36, his right hon. Friend said that 9 might be considered obsolete, and 9 which were under repair, though not condemned, were likely to last only for short periods. Practically, then, we had 18 which were useful, and 18 which were useless for the service of the year; and of the latter, 9 were in a totally different category from the 9 which the right hon. Gentleman had referred to as obsolete. [Mr. HUNT: What I did say was that 9 were either obsolete or not worth repairing for sea-going purposes.] His observations intended to convey exactly what the right hon. Gentleman had just stated—namely, that they were actually or practically obsolete. The Committee would probably be of opinion that vessels undergoing a refit were in a totally different position from obsolete vessels. The proper way to look at the matter was that they could be used when refitted and repaired; and if not available at the immediate moment they could be made so in a few mouths, and they would then be, as before, suited to the service of the country. If we considered what had been done on former occasions, we could estimate with great accuracy the time that would be required before those vessels could be brought into service. To take them in hand and render them effective lay entirely with his right hon. Friend opposite. If it were a question of some months, and some months only, his Tight hon. Friend would see that it would be one of his most important duties to make use of the power placed in his hands, and of the money voted by the House, so as to give us, as soon as possible, 27 instead of 18 effective vessels. He would refer to what had been done in the way of refits, in order to guide us as to what might be done. A Return had been laid on the Table of the House, on the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ponte-fract (Mr. Childers), and that Re-turn was a copy of the Report of Sir Spencer Robinson, late Controller of the Navy, dated February, 1870, and was entitled a Review of Naval Expenditure for that year. He had abstracted from that Return information with reference to the time taken in refitting vessels of the class with which he was now dealing—namely, iron armour-clad vessels. Out of an immense number of vessels, he found that those longest under repair were the Warrior, the Hector, the Royal Oak, the Resistance, and the Black Prince, and the period from taking them in hand to fitting them out had been, on the average, something under 12 months. Suppose it came to the worst, and these 9 vessels should take an equal length of time to get ready, we should be reduced to the use of the remaining 18 vessels during the interval; but 12 months was an extremely long period, and if the occasion required it, they could be got ready in from six to eight months. It came to this, therefore, that instead of being reduced to 18 out of 36 sea-going vessels, we should be reduced to 27. And as to the remaining 9 having become obsolete, that was not to be regarded as unreasonable; and, indeed, the proportion of obsolete vessels to the total number was in accordance with past experience. If the House were not ac- quainted with the rate of deterioration, it might be expected that the full number of vessels for which money had been voted should be ready when required. But it was absolutely impossible that this should be so. The first of the 36 sea-going iron-clads was built in 1861, and the last in 1873, and the depreciation of 9 of these vessels, by becoming obsolete in a period of 12 years, was justified by the experience of the 18 years from 1855 to 1873. In that period, according to the right hon. Member for the City of London Mr. Goschen), 550,000 tons were built of all sorts, and at the end of it, 400,000 tons had to be struck off as obsolete, destroyed by wear and tear, or lost at sea; that the actual loss was 22,000 tons a-year, and the loss upon the tonnage of all vessels built was 4 per cent per annum. From 1863 to 1873, 148 sea-going ships of 226,000 tons were launched, and during that time 215,000 tons were struck off the effective list. In those 10 years, the annual loss was 21,000 tons, or at the rate of 5 per cent. Nine out of 36 vessels in 12 years gave an average rate of 3 per cent only, and this was the percentage of vessels which had become obsolete according to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hunt). The Committee would, therefore, be prepared to expect that 9 of these vessels should have become obsolete or depreciated, and assuming that it would be the duty of the Government to meet this depreciation out of the annual Vote it would be necessary to build 9 vessels to replace those that were disappearing, and to add 3 for those that would become obsolete while we were building the 9, so as to bring the Navy up to its full state of efficiency. Whoever was at the head of the Navy, it must be expected that a certain proportion of the 39 vessels would always be disabled. In commercial operations, it was very well known that it was necessary to have 4 vessels for a service to be performed by 3, so that I might always be laid by; and it was only by having a fourth vessel for a service which required 3 to be at sea, that the mail service between Holy-head and Kingstown had run for 14 or 15 years with such great regularity. In the years 1866, 1867, 1868, and 1869, the average tonnage of ships of all sorts built was 25,000 tons, at an average yearly expense of £3,260,000. This in cluded both building and repairs, and this tonnage and this expenditure would be sufficient, or nearly so, to give effect to the restoration of the obsolete ships and build others to meet future depreciation to the extent he had referred, in three to four years. If, therefore, the work were done as he had pointed out, we should have yearly from 15,000 to 18,000 tons of iron-clads, and from 8,000 to 10,000 tons of unarmoured vessels, without disturbing the programme of the year; and we should have the means, the House being content with the number fixed on to be completed, from the present moment, of maintaining the Fleet in the fullest efficiency, without materially adding to the Estimates in future years. A great error had been committed with respect to the Navy. The House had gone on from year to year with a policy which reached no farther than the year; whereas, not only greater economy, but a far better Navy, would be arrived at if a continuous policy were adopted. The First Lord of the Admiralty, with the best assistance he could command, both within and without his Department, should determine what number of vessels the country might safely rely on, and distribute the building of them over a period of years, leaving it to his successor as a recognized and well-matured policy, which should not be departed from, whatever party came into power, unless satisfactory reasons were shown to the House. This was the system pursued in the Foreign Office and in the India Office. The Navy was almost the only Department of the State in which it was not carried out. A national policy should be substituted for a party policy, and should be pursued in regard to the Navy, whatever party was in power. He could not too strongly impress this view on the right hon. Gentleman. One great advantage that would result from this proposal was that the right hon. Gentleman, having determined his policy, and obtained for it the assent of the House, the whole efforts of his Department would be employed in giving effect to it, and would be restrained from that discursive, inventive, restless course of improvement which they were now continually pressing forward for no other reason than that they believed it best for the work of the hour, and because no general course had been cut out for them, and adopted as a comprehensive scheme to be adhered to and carried out over a lengthened period. In this way, also, they would be enabled to arrive at some conclusion as to the best vessels they could lay down, and though it might be necessary to refer them to two or three classes, they would have a homogeneous Navy. It might be said this policy could not be followed, because a continual change was being made in guns for the Navy. Ships required to be altered to meet the change in guns, and what was settled in 1874 would be perfectly useless in 1879. This argument might have been very plausible some five or six years back; but the fact was that guns had overtaken the powers of resistance in the armour of ships long ago. Hon. Gentlemen would deceive themselves if they thought it would be possible to repeat the great effort made in 1867–8, when the late Mr. Corry was First Lord of the Admiralty. He then built 33,000 tons of shipping in a single year; but that was an exceptional period, following the commercial depression of 1866, and when the shipbuilding trade was absolutely prostrate. The Government was, therefore, able to avail itself, not only of the private shipbuilding yards, but also of a large number of men whom they had employed. But if any such attempt should be made now, there would be a great increase in the cost of production, work would be hurried, and it would not be so well done as when it was distributed regularly over a number of years; and this was a policy of so much importance, both as to the character of the ships that would be produced as well as the economy of producing them, that he could not too strongly urge it on his right, hon. Friend (Mr. Hunt). The next advantage to which he would refer was, that we should be able to be continually replacing those vessels which had become obsolete, by vessels of a newer type, and larger tonnage, and thus we should be practically increasing the power of our Navy without increasing the number of our ships. It was almost impossible to spend £200,000 in any additional vessels proposed to be built and in the repairs of sea-going vessels during the present year, and there need be no alarm that the Financial Estimates would be disturbed by any large amount of Supplementary Estimates. The Devastation would, he believed, be found to be one of the best fighting ships in the Navy. He regretted that the First Lord of the Admiralty had relegated her to the inferior class of harbour ships; because he believed that if the emergency arose, and if her freeboard were raised still higher, the Devastation might safely go into any sea and fight anywhere He had now to call the attention of the Committee to a most important matter. A new element of defence had cropped up during the last few years, in the torpedo, which might be made wonderfully effective as an additional armament to our ships. Torpedoes could now be carried in small boats of great speed, and four of these torpedo vessels might be built at a cost each of not more than £1,800 or £2,000. They might be carried in davits or on the deck of each of the large sea-going ships, and might be hurled against the enemy at a speed of between 14 and 15 knots an hour. It would be impossible for an enemy's ship to escape from these wasps, and at the same time to reply to the fire of the big ships. But valuable as the torpedoes were to the iron-clads, they were still more valuable to the unarmoured vessels. A great economy would result from using them in conjunction with unarmoured vessels, and in the next war they would play a great part in protecting the commerce of the country. He trusted that the First Lord would take a general and comprehensive view of these considerations, in which case he might maintain the Navy in an efficient state, without greatly exceeding the costs of the present Estimates, and avoid those continual disturbances of the Admiralty programme from year to year, which went far to diminish the confidence of the country in the strength and efficiency of the Navy.
said, that when the Government of 186G was formed, a portentous statement was made by the then First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir John Pakington) with respect to the condition in which his predecessors had left the Navy. He was asked in August, 1866, by a Member sitting on his own side of the House (Mr. Graves) for the names of the ships available for the Reserve for reliefs; and Sir John Pakington's answer was that he trusted he should be excused for not giving the names of these vessels, because if he did the list would unfortunately be a very short one. The Reserves, he added, were by no means in a satisfactory state, so that the Admiralty had great difficulty in finding relief's for ships as they returned from foreign service. And it appeared that this statement was not limited to the unarmoured Navy, for, in answer to a Question put by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Samuda), Sir John Pakington said, that "instead of overstating the disadvantageous situation of the country with regard to the Navies of other nations, he had rather understated it," and he then compared it with that of other countries. He said that the Italian Government had 15 or 16 iron-clads in commission, and had nine building. He said that the total strength of France in ironclads was 58, including those termed "batteries," some of which were competent for coast defence, and that we did not possess the same class of vessels to nearly the same extent. Russia, he said, had 30 armour-clad vessels, a considerable number of which were turret-ships. America had 73 iron-clads, Brazil 5, Peru 2, and Chili 2. The First Lord of the Admiralty went on to say that we had only 33 of this class of ships, 30 of which were afloat, and three in the course of construction; and that if we desired to see England hold the position which she ought to hold, her Navy must not be allowed to remain unequal to that of foreign countries; and the right hon. Gentleman expressed a hope that Parliament and the country would be of opinion that he had not been unmindful of the great interests committed to his charge. These were most portentous and important statements, coming from the First Lord of the Admiralty. Who, then, was it that, in the opinion of Lord Hampton, had left our Navy in this unsatisfactory state? It was the Duke of Somerset. But a few days ago, in "another place," the Duke of Somerset seemed to have had especial pleasure in bringing against his friends precisely the same charge which had been brought against him by his former opponents, and from which his friends bad done their best to defend him; and his right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Hunt)—encouraged apparently by an attack coming from such a quarter—made, a few days ago in Committee, a speech relating to the present state of the Navy, which he (Mr. Childers) might venture to say, however important it was, was paralleled by no statement ever made by a First Lord of the Admiralty in moving the Estimates, and certainly by no Minister, since he had been a Member of the House, in bringing before the House the annual account of his Department. His right hon. Friend introduced into that speech an element which he (Mr. Childers) ventured to say had never been introduced on any previous occasion into any speech made by a First Lord of the Admiralty or by a Secretary of War, for the whole of that speech, from beginning to end—eliminating from it the figures—was a party speech addressed to a party majority in the House. He hoped that speech would not form a precedent for speeches of Ministers moving the Estimates of their Departments. Our naval policy should, as far as was possible, be uniform and continuous, and the introduction of party politics should, above all things, be avoided in such a speech. What was the substance of that speech? It was this—that the state of our seagoing Navy was anything but satisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord said we had at this moment only 14 effective sea-going iron-clad ships. No other result, the right hon. Gentleman said, could have been anticipated from the shipbuilding policy of the last few years, and the reductions effected by the late Government. These reductions, he said, were due to political necessity, and that when that necessity had passed, the Estimates rose to a point almost as high as that at which they had been left by the late Mr. Corry. And he complimented his right hon. Friend the Member for the City (Mr. Goschen) for his endeavours to correct the many evils resulting from the previous mistaken reductions, and that demands for increased expenditure were daily pressed upon him. His right hon. Friend laid peculiar emphasis on these words—that he did not "mean to have a fleet on paper; that whatever ships appeared as forming a part of the strength of the Navy, must be real and effective ships and not dummies." Addressing the Opposition benches, he declared that the country had scarcely a second-class Navy, and that we had a second-class Navy was the fault of the Liberal Government.
I never said so. I never said a word about a second-class Navy.
What he meant was, that the effect of the expressions used by the right hon. Gentleman was that the country was led to believe so. In fact, to quote the words of an old sea song—
"Should foggy Opdam chance to know
Our sad and dismal story,
As it had been supposed that his right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen), in the reply which he made, without preparation, to the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty admitted the charge—if he might use that expression—made by the First Lord of the Admiralty, he wished to state most distinctly that his right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London docs not admit the conclusions drawn by the First Lord of the Admiralty; nor, as he (Mr. Childers) understood it, was that the effect of his right hon. Friend's speech. His right hon. Friend had no opportunity of meeting the charge brought against him because the names of the ships stated to be inefficient were not given, and it was not explained whether they were inefficient originally, or had become so by lapse of time. He had, therefore, no opportunity of criticizing the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hunt) as fully as he would have desired; but he neither admitted the facts stated by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord in his speech, nor the conclusions he had drawn from them. What he did was to emphasize the difficulty which he had experienced as First Lord, and which he said every First Lord must experience in endeavouring to carry out his programme with reference to the Navy—which difficulties arose out of the changes which had taken place in naval construction. But if his right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London had been misunderstood, what was the case as to the First Lord of the Admiralty? Whether the First Lord of the Admiralty intended it or not, had he not been understood by the House and by the country as desiring to add a large sum of money to the expenditure for the Navy in the present year? Then three or four days after the Chancellor of the Exchequer said distinctly that that was not in- tended. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said most distinctly that the First Lord of the Admiralty had no intention to "scare" the country. But was there any doubt that the country and the House were "scared" by the statements of the First Lord of the Admiralty? He was compelled to say that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had correctly described the financial intentions of the Government, the First Lord of the Admiralty went beyond that which was his duty in bringing Estimates before the House, and, by his words or his manner, leading the House and the country to believe that he intended to bring in large Supplementary Estimates. You could not—no Minister could—talk of "a fleet on paper" or "a dummy Navy" without frightening the country; and he repeated that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Hunt) had been guilty of one of the greatest indiscretions ever known in Parliament. To this, however, he would have to revert. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay) who spoke the other evening, and spoke with an authority that could not be disregarded, described the condition of the Navy as "deplorable," and he further ascribed that deplorable condition to the changes he (Mr. Childers) had made; but he gave his right hon. Friend who had succeeded him at the Admiralty (Mr. Goschen) the greatest credit for what he had done "with such an Administration as that to which he belonged, who were pledged to parsimony, and whose sole object seemed to be to discredit the Navy." The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. E. J. Reed), too, in a speech of the most temperate character, nevertheless maintained that we should have to spend a much larger sum of money on ships if we were to keep our force at 60,000 men, and the hon. Gentleman blamed, as he understood him, the attempt he (Mr. Childers) had made in 1870 to maintain an even charge over future years. On the same evening also a very strong attack was made by the hon. and gallant Admiral the Member for Chatham (Admiral Elliot) on the ship-building policy of the late Government. Personally, he desired to thank the hon. and gallant Gentleman for the courtesy of his remarks as to himself—but the charge he brought against the late Government was that they had been utterly wrong in the Dockyard policy they had pursued, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to the course pursued in 1869 and 1870 as the greatest blot upon our naval policy. [Admiral ELLIOT said, he had no recollection of using such words.] What the hon. and gallant Gentleman said was—"The dockyard policy which I condemn is the dockyard policy of 1869–70." [Admiral ELLIOT: Hear, hear!] But he gave credit to his right hon. Friend (Mr. Goschen) for what he had done during the last four years, and said that if he had not done more it was because he was fettered by the policy of his predecessor. Now, all the questions referred to by those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen he (Mr. Childers) was prepared to discuss, though only a portion of the charges could be said primarily to concern him. What did primarily concern him were the charges relating to 1869–70. And here he might, perhaps, say he did not believe his right hon. Friend beside him (Mr. Goschen) was prepared to accept the left-handed compliment which had been paid him of having, during his three years of office, done everything remarkably well, any shortcomings on his part being duesolely to the course pursued by the Minister who preceded him. He thought both the acts and language of his right hon. Friend in that House showed pretty conclusively that any such compliments must be singularly distasteful to him; but he (Mr. Childers) had no objection to accept battle on the ground chosen by the other side—The Dutch would scorn so mean a foe."
and he was quite prepared to take the responsibility of defending on this occasion not only those acts which were specially his, but also those which were said to be the consequence of the policy he had pursued; excepting, of course, such details within the last two years of which none but those within the walls of the Admiralty could have cognizance. But he must, he feared, ask the indulgence of the House to a larger extent than was usual in such matters. It was now that very day four years that he was disabled by a severe illness from carrying out, with full activity, the great enterprise he had undertaken eighteen mouths before; and, in little more than six months after, he was compelled to abstain from work altogether, and his right hon. Friend (Mr. Goschen) was appointed his successor under circumstances equally unfavourable to both of them. The Committee could easily understand the pain which a man must feel who, having set his hand to the plough and undertaken a great and most difficult task, found himself compelled, within little more than a third of the time he had allotted to the work, to retire and to hand over the work to another—one who had no previous experience of the Department, and who was unable to consult his predecessor as to details, but was obliged to proceed with such information as he could find in his office. There was another ground on which he asked the indulgence of the House. Until now he had never had an opportunity of meeting the attacks which every great reform must be expected to provoke. It was only within a very few days of his being totally incapacitated from work that, in spite of the strongest requests on the part of those who were acquainted with his state of health, a most premature inquiry was instituted by the House of Lords with regard to a portion merely of the work he had undertaken. He was unable to attend any of the sittings, and that the inquiry was premature was shown by the fact that to that very day no Report had been made; and to this day his answer to the Duke of Somerset's allegations had never been heard. During the same year, too, a series of attacks were made upon him in that House; and when he had sufficiently recovered to be able to defend himself, those attacks were never renewed. He did not blame those who made those charges, for current public affairs must be dealt with at the time; but he felt that they gave him some claim to the indulgence of the House, because they were made in his absence, and no fitting opportunity had presented itself until the present time of answering them. Daily and weekly attacks, too, had been made upon him by the Press, which, as a Member of Parliament, it was utterly impossible for him to deal with. There wore, indeed, tinder this head, two matters to which he must specially allude. The first was the charges brought against him with regard to the Megara. In the ease of that vessel, charges were brought against him, although he had nothing whatever to do with sending the vessel to sea. A Commission was appointed to examine into the matter, and—without taking upon himself to say whether he thought the conclusions of that Commission entirely supported by the evidence or not—the Commission completely exonerated him from all the charges that had been made against him. On the very day the Report of the Commission was laid upon the Table a noble Lord, a Member of the Opposition (Lord Henry Lennox), gave Notice that he would in a few days call attention to that Report—and, indeed, it was understood that that was a necessary consequence. Well, a Motion hostile to himself had been placed on the Paper early in the Session, but week after week it was postponed, and it stood on the books till the month of July, when it was handed over to another Member of the House. These postponements went on to the end of the Session, and from that day to this the word Megcera had never been mentioned in Parliament. He would now take the case of the Devastation. Questions about that vessel, which went to the very roots of his policy and acts, were very prominently brought before the public in the latter part of 1872, and very strong animadversions on the policy of the Board of Admiralty were made in the course of that year. These animadversions were continued till early in 1873, and no one rejoiced more than he—and his right hon. Friend the late First Lord fully participated in his feelings—when they were satisfied that there would be a debate on the whole history of the Devastation. They were prepared to have gone fully into the subject—but when the debate should have come on, although that very day at the Society of Naval Architects, the charge had been renewed with great vigour, not a single word was said in that House on the subject of the construction of the Devastation, or her alleged defects. The debate ended in a mathematical and scientific disquisition, much was said about some mechanical problem, the use of canvas, and so forth:—but to this day he had never had an opportunity of meeting what he had always regarded as one of the most important questions that could be laid before the House. Then, as to the changes at the Admiralty, which it was now stated had been the cause of continued embarrassment to his successors—it was not until he came back, after having been First Lord of the Admiralty, that a debate was raised, in 1872, by the late Mr. Corry on the constitution of the Board of Admiralty; but hardly anyone supported the right hon. Gentleman's Motion, the charges which he had made, with one exception, appearing to receive general approval. He repeated that if, as had been alleged, all that had gone wrong during the last four years was due to him, it was somewhat hard that he and his Colleagues were not called upon to defend their policy until the subjects on which they were attacked had become stale. Let him now come to some points of this attack. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hunt) had spoken of their policy in 1860 and 1870 as having, in respect to economy, been guided by political considerations, and not upon what was necessary for the maintenance of the efficiency of the Navy, and he implied his belief that theirs were political Estimates. He wished at once to meet that charge, and he emphatically asserted that the Estimates of 1869–70 were not political Estimates—he denied distinctly and emphatically that any other consideration than the efficiency of the Navy had actuated him in framing the Estimates for those years. When his right hon. Friend wound up this debate perhaps he would answer the following question. The Navy Estimates of 1868 were prepared by the late Mr. Corry, and were laid upon the Table at the usual time in compliance with the Standing Orders. They were presented and ordered to be printed on the 17th of February—and the House, as the Committee well knew, was very strict in its Rules as to the time within which it was the duty of the Admiralty to present these Estimates, and it was the universal rule to circulate the Estimates within two or throe days after they had been laid on the Table. Now, the question he wished to ask his light hon. Friend was this—How was it that on that occasion the Estimates, instead of being circulated, were kept back 21 days, and were then presented to Parliament greatly reduced from their original amount? no wanted to know whether that was done from a political or a naval consideration? The observations ought to have been addressed to right hon. Gentlemen on the bench oppo- site, and not to him (Mr. Childers) or to his right hon. Friend (Mr. Goschen). He would now pass to the larger figures of the right hon. Gentleman, who had stated in the House that the economy of which he spoke in such disparaging terms amounted to certain sums, which he gave in detail, and he explained why the late Government were not even entitled to credit for that economy. As the right hon. Gentleman went on he found he was quoting from the Estimates and not from the results. Since then, however, he (Mr. Childers) had taken the trouble carefully to go through the actual naval expenditure, gross and net, of each year to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded. In 1867–68 and in 1868–69 the naval expenditure was £11,342,000 and £11,061,000 respectively, and after deducting the extra receipts the expenditure was £10,968,000 and £10,83 1,000, giving an average of £10,901,000. He had applied the same rule to each of the subsequent four years for which we had full accounts, and he found that the average was £9,392,000. The average of the Estimates of last year and this year was £9,885,000. If any hon. Member would take the trouble to calculate a sum in arithmetic, he would find that, assuming in the present two years the expenditure at the full amount of the Estimates, the saving in six years, as compared with the average of the two years in which the previous Government was in office, would come to no less than £8,069,000. That was the real measure of the economy of the late Government in respect of Naval Expenditure. But the right hon. Gentleman made a very remarkable qualification before he compared the two expenditures, for he said that the late Mr. Corry had, at the end of 1868, some intention with respect to the expenditure of the following year, and that if those intentions had been taken into account he (Mr. Childers) and his Colleagues would not have been able to show so large a reduction as they did. It was, doubtless, true that Mr. Corry did, before he left office, sketch out some savings in the Wages Vote, and those Estimates, being only rough sketches, were considerably modified by the new Administration. But he was not disposed to admit that those rough sketches formed a sufficient basis for the argument of his right hon. Friend. The former Government having resigned on the 2nd of December, on the 7th or thereabouts, the Controller of the Navy prepared a rough sketch of the possible reductions, and on the 9th of December the Estimates were approved by the then Board of Admiralty. He did not think it fair to attach so much weight as the right hon. Gentleman had done to Estimates prepared after the Government had virtually ceased to hold office, and nearly two months before the ordinary time for preparing the Estimates. There was, however, a more important point than this. The First Lord laid peculiar stress in his speech on the virtues of the previous Board of Admiralty, because they laid down in each year a largo number of ships. The right hon. Gentleman said, in general terms, that one of the things for which the late Mr. Corry ought to have great credit was that he had laid down in 1867 and 1868 so many ships. But what was the fact with respect to those sketch Estimates? Why it was proposed to lay down no new ship whatever, whether armoured or unarmoured. That being the case, it was perfectly idle to refer to the sketch Estimates so constructed as an actual basis of comparison between the Estimates of the present Government and those of the late Government. Therefore, it must be taken as an established fact that the policy of the late Administration had saved the country in the naval expenditure alone a sum of £8,000,000:—and if it were taken into account that prices had very much risen—a point as to which he should have something more to say—he might safety affirm that the measure of economy of the late Government in the naval expenditure alone was at least £9,000,000. Well, the right hon. Gentleman opposite, basing his argument on those sketch Estimates, said that the Estimates of this year, which he inherited from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, had reverted to the expenditure of the previous Government, under the Administration of Mr. Corry. But that was not the case. The Estimates of this year, allowing for the difference of price of iron and coal, and for the rise of wages, were almost exactly the Estimates of the first and second years of the late Government. He now proposed to state what had really been done at the Admiralty during his own Administration. He would first state what he did during his first two years of office, and what he had intended to do when it was put out of his power to carry on the administration—intentions which his right hon. Friend (Mr. Goschen) had loyally fulfilled. He hoped the Committee would forgive him if he spoke so much of past events, for he was forced to do so by the references of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. What, then, did he find when he went to the Admiralty in 1868, and what were the heads of this policy which was now so boldly impugned? He succeeded to the office of First Lord of the Admiralty at a somewhat critical moment in the history of Admiralty affairs. His penultimate predecessor was the Duke of Somerset, who occupied the post of First Lord for a period of seven years, and to whom he had always given great credit for improvements he had effected in the Navy; but, at the same time, he was bound to say that the Duke of Somerset left to those who came after him a heavy legacy of work. In 1860, it had been recommended by a Commission on the Navy, and practically assented to, that very large reforms should be made in the Admiralty; but up to the time the Duke of Somerset left office a very small proportion of those reforms had been effected. On one most imporportant question—the absolute necessity of reducing the number of naval officers—the Board, from 1859 to 1866, showed an extraordinary want of foresight, the efficiency of the service having been almost destroyed some years ago, owing to the extraordinary redundancy of officers compared with the work. The Luke of Somerset was followed by Mr. Corry, and for two years and a half the Admiralty was administered by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the other side. He had always given to that Administration credit for excellent intentions; and, indeed, in 1857, on hearing their policy, he said he should consider himself their general supporter. In 1868, on the Motion for appointing a Select Committee, when their policy was challenged by his hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely), he did his utmost to assist the Government by a Report drawn up by himself, and adopted by the official Members; and, in July of the same year, when in Committee of Supply, it was proposed distinctly to censure the Admiralty—when what was equivalent to a Vote of Want of Confidence in the Government was moved—he did his best to support the Administration, some Gentlemen on his side who thought him right voted with him, and the Motion was defeated by a majority of 10. Therefore, it could not be said that he had offered any factious opposition to the Admiralty of 1868. But though that Admiralty did one thing which ought to atone for many faults, namely, sanctioned the construction of ships of the Audacious class—notwithstanding the amount of good work they really did—they left a huge arrear of work to be done by their successors. It was under such circumstances that he came into office in the end of 1868. The cry at that time for Admiralty reform was universal—there was no part of the service, the country, or the Press which was not urging the absolute necessity for such reform. He went to the Admiralty determined to do his utmost in making the reforms which had been recommended, or which he found to be needed. He found that he had undertaken even a heavier task than he had conceived possible. It would have been difficult, under any circumstances, to grapple with the very large questions they were expected to settle—and these difficulties were greatly aggravated by the grievous want of harmony within the Admiralty walls. The matter was too notorious that he need refrain from mentioning it. Two of the most eminent; members of the Admiralty felt, and resented the treatment they had recently received from the Government. Nevertheless, he (Mr. Childers) did his utmost to deal with the important reforms to which public opinion had expressed its adherence. The first thing he did was to consolidate the Admiralty Departments with the view of enforcing that principle of responsibility which had been resisted so long, and he carried out as far as possible the recommendations of the Commission of 160. He succeeded in all the first steps which he took; and as it had been insinuated that some of his reforms had not been carried out by his successor, he would say that with one exception—having reference to whether the Controller should be a member of the Board—all the changes recommended by the Commission of 1860 had been substantially and thoroughly carried out. The next thing he undertook was the improvement of the administration of the Dockyards; and though in that he might not have the sympathy of the hon. and gallant Officer opposite (Admiral Elliot) he followed the proposals of the Commission of 1860, which had been more than once enforced in the House. The next thing was the closing of Woolwich Dockyard—an operation attended not only with economy, but with very great efficiency in Dockyard administration. It had been decided by the Committee of 1864 that it should be closed, but the matter stood over from that time until 1870, when it was done. The whole system of purchase and store arrangements—which had received a great shock by the evidence taken before the Committee of 1860—was also reformed, the details being carried out by his right hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter.) One branch of that reform was what the First Lord of the Admiralty had called the "clearing out of the lumber room." He (Mr. Childers) thought that if the right hon. Gentleman would go round the Dockyards now he would find them in a very different condition, as to obsolete ships, boats, and stores of all kinds, from what he found when he went round with Mr. Corry. He could not help, in passing, referring to an entire misapprehension which seemed to exist—namely, that the arrangements with respect to the sale of ships which prevailed many years ago were in force now. One of the first things that was done in 1869 was to bring in a Bill under which those arrangements were entirely abolished; and all the ships sold since that time were sold, not under the Naval Stores Act, but out and out, and the prices received whilst he was First Lord were satisfactory. Then they effected a great reduction in the salaried officers of the Admiralty. He never was one of those who looked for economy through the reduction of salaries; on the contrary, he looked for economy, not to the reduction of the salaries, which were by no means excessive, but to the reduction of redundant numbers, especially in salaried officers. There was always in public offices a tendency to increase the number of salaried officers; and pleasant as it might be at the moment, it was distressing in its effects, because it must be followed by strong and sweeping measures of reduction. They found when they took office that there were 1,055 salaried officers, of whom 32 were receiving £1,000 a-year and more; now there were 755, of whom only 27 were receiving £1,000 a-year and more. They effected a reduction of 300 in the permanent salaried staff of the departments of the Admiralty. The financial results, allowing for the full amount of commutations and pensions, were as follow:—the expenditure for salaries was, in 1808, £455,000: in 1873. £417,000, showing a reduction of £38,000. What was important was that this reduction was not accompanied by any reduction, but by a considerable increase in the rate of individual salaries. The average rate before the change was £315 a-year, and last year it was £350—an increase of more than 10 per cent. But they effected still more valuable reforms afloat. In the first place, they settled the strength of the foreign squadrons—an operation which the debate of 1867 had shown to be essential; and this was coupled with a vast increase in the exercise of the officers and men at sea, which was called for by every officer consulted. Two additional squadrons were established—the flying squadron—which he hoped no consideration would induce this or any future Admiralty to abandon—and the first Reserve Squadron, to which half of the Coast-guardmen annually went, and to which in that year were added, in order to prove to the country their efficiency, a large number of Naval Reserve men. They also cleared out from the Navy and Coastguard a largo number of inefficient men and idlers; and the result was that although the numbers of the men on the lists of the Navy and Coastguard was somewhat smaller than heretofore, their increased efficiency more than compensated the slight numerical reduction. Lastly, they reversed the policy of stopping short for a time in improving the type of ships, and they decided—defeating his lamented Friend (Mr. Corry), on that point in the House—to commence the building of unmasted turret-ships, of the Derastation class, for which the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Reed) deserved the greatest credit. Those were the results of their first year of office. In the second year they took up larger and still more important reforms. In the first place they appointed a Committee to deal with the question of the higher education of naval officers, specially with a view to the establish- ment of the College at Greenwich, where his right hon. Friend (Mr. Goschen) had introduced an admirable plan. They appointed a Committee to deal with the question of strengthening the Reserve—a question which to this day had not been completely solved; and their inquiries would afford great assistance to those who desired to carry the question further in future years. They carried out the plan for promoting the retirement of officers of the Navy, specially with regard to their enormous redundancy—a measure which had already borne good fruit. He was careful not to frighten Parliament by the large figures which were iuvolved, and justified the measure itself only in detail, trusting that results would vindicate it. Let him now, however, tell the Committee what they did. When they took office the number of officers of all ranks was a little under 8,000. They arrived at the conclusion that the number of officers required for the service was only 5,500—a number which might be still further reduced some day. They found in the superior ranks very nearly 800 officers, and they were satisfied that the number required was only 400; and they had to effect a reduction equivalent to reducing by one-half the number of Generals and Colonels in the Army. Nor was this the case in the upper ranks alone. During the 10 previous years there had been entered 1,700 cadets, when 1,000 would have met the wants of the service. In the inferior ranks, from lieutenant downwards they found 2,000 officers when 1,300 only were required. The reform was one of the most difficult that could have been taken in hand, but it had been carried out successfully, and with satisfactory results both in the interest of economy and in the interest of the Service. When he told the House, and especially the distinguished Admirals present, that had it not been for the Retirement Order of 1870, the present Controller of the Navy would have been the junior flag officer, they would have some idea of what had been effected. In fact, at that moment the reduction they had contemplated had been reached to within some 200 of the total of 2,500. But the great reform of the year was the introduction of a uniform plan for the building of the Navy. For many years they had been lamentably deficient in regard to anything like a foreseeing policy as to the building of their ships. Each Board of Admiralty seemed to have framed in each year a new scheme, sometimes greatly increasing and sometimes greatly decreasing the amount of work proposed to be done; and the results were sudden expansions and sudden reductions. He did not wish to charge this or that Lord of the Admiralty; he merely wished to deal with the general question. Nothing was more conducive to the want of economy and efficiency than the absence for a long series of years of anything like a uniform policy in our shipbuilding and repairing. In a business point of view what could be worse than the following figures? In the five years before the late Government dealt with this question they built 18,952 tons, 12,497 tons, 14,142 tons, 24,177 tons, and 14,066 tons. No man of business would be content with such unsatisfactory variations. They considered what were their annual requirements, what their constant staff, what they ought to do by contract, and what was necessary for current repairs, and they considered the question of what tonnage per annum required to be built to keep the Navy in efficient strength. They concluded that the amount of tonnage built should be 19,500 tons annually. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Samuda), whose figures were different, had perhaps not made sufficient allowance for the waste of iron-clads. They acted on their conclusion, and in the five following years the variations, which before had been 10,000 tons, did not exceed 1,500 tons a-year. The amounts for the five years during which they were in office were 13,271 tons, 18,414 tons, 14,448 tons, 13,609 tons, and 12,904 tons. These figures showed that they had attained one object—annual uniformity of building-tonnage in the Dockyards. The aggregate tonnage proposed for these five years was 97,000 tons, while the actual tonnage was 99,000—about 2,000 more than was anticipated. So far, therefore, as the construction of a uniform average amount of tonnage was concerned, their reform of the Dockyard system had been perfectly successful. Now, as to the men provided for this work. That was a question of considerable difficulty. It was on the 9th or 10th of December, 1869, that the Controller of the Navy brought to him the result of the inquiries he had made—which was, that to lay out efficiently the amount of shipbuilding proposed, and also the repairs necessary for the fleet, they should employ in the Dockyards at home a total number of 11,271 men, at wages somewhat under £650,000. That recommendation at first startled him. Knowing the number of men who had been employed in former years, he was at first doubtful whether 11,271 men would be adequate; and he asked the Controller of the Navy and his right hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) to go very carefully into the question and satisfy themselves that their calculations were correct. They did so, and their answer was that the detailed inquiry was thoroughly satisfactory, and that that number of men would be amply sufficient to carry out the programme he intended; and they further reported their opinion that the estimated amount of tonnage steadily and yearly added to the Navy would keep us in a state of ample security as well as ability to perform any work that might be expected from a first-class maritime Dower, and insure the maintenance of our national position as the first maritime Power in the world. He approved that recommendation—and he wished most distinctly and emphatically to say that he and he, alone, was responsible for that decision. If that decision was wrong he only was responsible for it; and if right he and those whom he consulted were entitled to the credit of having arrived at that conclusion. With regard to the reduction of the men in the Dockyards to 11,270 there was no difference of opinion at the Admiralty that it could be effected. But towards the middle of the year, at the time when the Franco-German war broke out, the Government had to take into consideration what it might be necessary to do with reference to the Navy in order to secure our neutrality in the then disturbed state of Europe. The question of increased expenditure on our ships, in view of the war in Europe, received the most anxious consideration of the Government; and it became his duty to consult those associated with him at the Admiralty as to the details of the expenditure which would be necessary. A larger expenditure was at first pressed upon him by the Controller of the Navy than was finally adopted—he had not the exact figures, but, speaking generally, the Cabinet decided that the expenditure of £500,000 during the re- mainder of the year would be sufficient. It was undoubtedly true that so far as they were concerned at the Admiralty, there were very great and serious discussions; but they arrived at that conclusion. The Minute approving the additional expenditure was dated the 6th or the 8th of August, and he presumed would be laid upon the Table with the Papers moved for by the hon and gallant Member for Stamford. Well, what happened? Almost on that very clay the first battles unfavourable to Prance were fought. These were followed by the battles of Woerth and Forbach. Mars-la-Tour and St. Privat, the surrender of Sedan, of Metz, of Strasburg, the investment of Paris, succeeded by the Peace of 1871. There could be no question, then, that in the decision they came to as to the expenditure necessary to place our fleet in a proper state, they had arrived at a wise and sound conclusion. He thought that in the steps they took both dozing the time of profound peace in February, 1870, and when peace was broken in July and August, 1870, the Government had arrived at sound conclusions. But after the results of the war had entirely altered the position of France and the balance of power in Europe, it appeared unnecessary to increase our normal expenditure. It was true that when the war broke out, France had intended to spend 40,000,000 francs in naval preparations; but, as a matter of fact, no part of this vote was expended; and, in fact, both during and since the war, the French naval charges greatly fell off; so that whatever was thought necessary for the maintenance of our position in the eyes of Europe, and—to use Sir Spencer Robinson's expression—to keep us in a state of ample security as a first-class maritime Power, would be more than sufficient after the spring of 1871. On this question the Controller of the Navy did not hold the same view as he (Mr. Childers) held in August. 1870; and it was equally true that since that time Sir Spencer Robinson did not adhere fully to the views he formerly expressed; but he (Mr. Childers) was dealing with plain facts for the consideration of Parliament and of Government, and he said, without hesitation, that if the establishment of our normal rule of naval expenditure kept Eng- land in a state of ample security before the war, she was much more secure now. But he (Mr. Childers) might be asked, did he think the calculations made, of 11,271 men and £650,000 for dockyard expenditure, still held good after what they had seen? He was bound in candour to say they did slightly under-estimate the number of men required; but the numbers were increased and maintained at a slightly increased rate, which was thoroughly adequate to the occasion, and he believed that no further increase was necessary. He might be asked, what was the Navy fit for which they had so provided? The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had alarmed them with his view of the state of the Navy. He spoke of 14 or 15 efficient iron-clads—he told them that our fleet was, in fact, "a paper fleet." Now, the right hon. Gentleman would not give the figures or names, and without that information it was impossible to analyze his statement; but, after having gone carefully through the Navy List, and with all the information he could collect, he must say he took a very much less desponding view of its condition. The right hon. Gentleman had given them a very valuable Return about the state of boilers in the Navy, and when he analyzed that Return he saw no room for the desponding views of his right hon. Friend. One word first, as to the purposes of the Devastation. She was never intended to be a cruising ship of the Audacious type—she was intended to go to the Mediterranean and elsewhere, but being mastless, and depending solely on coal, she could never be attached to any cruising squadron. The only qualification to her sea-going powers was that she was never meant to go head to wind at full speed in a strong wind and a high sea; but she was expressly intended to be a sea-going ship. He had had the pleasure of seeing and communicating with the officers who had cruised in her and with scientific persons, and he could state that no one would be more surprised than her officers to be told that the Devastation was not a sea-going ship. He believed that the account which he had now given of her qualifications was exactly what he had stated in 1869, and he should decline to exclude her, or ships of similar construction, from our list, of efficient sea-going iron-clads. He would now show the state of the fleet, from the Returns of boilers of the iron-clad fleet. The total number of iron-clads built or building was 55. He would omit from consideration the five ships now building, and five other ships—namely, the Viper, Vixen, Water-witch, Scorpion, and Wivern—because, although the two last named were fit to go to sea, they were a small class of vessels. Out of the 45 remaining ships, 16 were completed for sea less than four years ago; seven were completed upwards of five years ago and loss than six years ago; and 22 were completed more than six years ago. All those completed for sea less than four years ago were efficient sea-going ships, except the Glatton. Of the seven ships completed between four and six years ago, three had new boilers making, one had a new boiler being put in, two had efficient boilers, and one would soon require new boilers. Of the 22 ships completed more than six years ago, six had new boilers in, four were having them put in, two were only harbour ships for which one set was in store, and 10 were wooden ships ordered to be built in 1861, 1862, and 1863, for which seven sets of boilers were in store. The total number of sea-going ships with efficient or new boilers, or having new boilers put in or making, was 31. Add the Glatton, Prince Albert, and Royal Sovereign, three, not sea-going ships; the Hercules, one; the old wooden armoured ships, 10; or, in all, 45. He confidently asserted that this was not an unsatisfactory state of things. With regard to the 10 wooden ships, any First Lord would have been most unwise who rashly decided what was to be done with several of them. They used to be called the makeshifts of the Navy," because they were built in great haste in consequence of 10 similar ships being built on the other side of the water. They were wooden armoured ships, as distinguished from iron armoured ships, and avowedly their life was not intended to be so long as the latter. Two or three were undoubtedly not worth refitting; others would last some time with a moderate outlay, and two or three might be worth thorough refit and form an efficient second line of defence in war; but this was doubtful. What, then, did all this come to? There might be one iron and two old wooden ships somewhat in arrear with their boilers, out of the whole amount of the Navy, and the question at the outside was whether we should take in hand some two more ships this year instead of next. And that was the whole amount of the "scare" of which so much had been said. The right hon. Gentleman said that we should be in arrear of reliefs of unarmoured ships in 1875–6; but he (Mr. Childers) had so often heard similar alarms that he had ceased to be frightened. He had already quoted the much more terrifying language used by Lord Hampton in 1866; and he had so often heard of similar alarms, both in and out of that House, that he was not disposed to think that the Admiralty would find any great difficulty in dissipating their own "scare." But there was a question connected with the relief of unarmoured ships to which he wanted to invite the attention of his right hon. Friend, and that was, whether our squadrons on foreign stations were not susceptible, even now, of some numerical reduction. He did not speak of reduction in point of force, but of reduction in point of numbers of small ships. The sloops and gun vessels on distant stations were out quickest, and were the most troublesome to relieve, and he could not but think they might be replaced by larger and fewer ships. But he now came to the real question. The real question was, what was our Navy, and what was required to make it efficient? When we talk of the relative strength of our Navy we mean its relative strength as compared with that of foreign countries. Old officers were in the habit of saying—"We had 20 pennants flying in such a year on such a station, and why should there not be the same number now?" But it was not the number of vessels we had upon any particular station, or indeed any given total number that constituted relative strength—it was the strength that was necessary to keep us at least on an equality with other Powers. It was not the duty of the Admiralty to send 20 or 30 ships to the West India station, for example, because we used to send that number. It was impossible to lay down any fixed law as to the number of our ships—the Government must look from time to time to the fleets kept up by other nations. The question was almost wholly a relative one. What we had to decide was not a very abstruse problem. Considering the fleets that were kept up by other nations, including ships in the course of construction, or likely to be constructed, what was the duty of this country, whose maritime pre-eminence he hoped they were all determined to place beyond doubt? He was aware that this was a delicate question, and he wished to approach it in a proper spirit—since, however, he had been connected with the Admiralty he had seen and heard a good deal about The Navies of other Powers; he had taken every opportunity of visiting the Naval establishments of other countries; he had perused the published documents and budgets of other countries, and had read the debates in the Parliaments of those countries on their Navies—he had taken every opportunity of making himself acquainted with what had been done and was doing on the Continent. That being so, he would now state what he conceived to be our relative strength at sea. He would begin by stating what he believed to be the official strength of the French Navy. The French Budget gave the following particulars as to iron-clads in the French Navy:—There were 24 iron-clads, of which 8 were in commission, and 16 could be put in commission if necessary; there were 8 or 9 ironclads in course of building, 4 special iron-clads finished, and 4 not finished;—making altogether 41 iron-clads, besides 7 floating batteries. Their present effective strength therefore amounted to 28 sea-going vessels. But when he looked into the details of these ships he found that there were only eight ships of the French Navy building and built which could be compared with what we called our first-class ships, and of that class we had 11 built and 4 building. Therefore, our strength in first-class ships was as nearly as possible double that of the French. Of the remaining classes we had 25 built and 1 building, as compared with 21 French built and 4 or 5 building. We had afloat 45 ships, not including batteries, and the French had 28, not including batteries. The French had afloat 35, including batteries, and we had 50, including our small ships. But all our ships except 12 or 13 were iron; whereas all their ships but 9 were wooden, and of those 9, 4 were iron and 5 were partly wooden and partly iron. Then as to the Estimates. The French Estimates for the current year, including the charge on the compte de liquidation, and the Invalides vote, and strictly comparing like with like amounted to just £5,120,000, whereas ours, including the Greenwich vote, amounted to £10,820,000. He might be told that some things were cheaper in France than in England, but coal and iron were undoubtedly dearer. So that the amount of the work which we were doing must be vastly greater than that of our neighbours. He could not find any statement in print of the exact tonnage to be built in France, but it could not exceed half ours. He would not-weary the House with many extracts from the debates on the French Budget, but some parts of them were so very instructive, that perhaps he might be allowed to read a few sentences. There had been two great debates lately in the French Assembly, one on the 12th of December on the original Budget, the other on the 20th and 21st of March, on a proposal to add 10,000,000f. to the expenditure charged on the compte de-liquidation. Now in the former he found that, after M. Vaudier had said that they were doing little more than Russia or Germany, and that they ought to add at least 10,000,000f. to their expenditure, and after the reporter of the Commission had explained why this was impossible, for everything was in a state of transition, and they had not even settled the typo of ships. The Minister of Marine used these remarkable words—" Unless you are prepared to go beyond the present votes, your material and the fleet iront sans case en dépérissant. It is true that what you have got is enough for coast defence. In this I do not fail to recognize the superiority of the English Navy. But our material will perish from year to year; and, if you do not take strong measures, our naval force will have rapidly lost its value. It is, therefore, indispensably necessary to reconstruct the fleet. But for the moment we have not the means. When we have them we must spend more for our security. If this year I do not get the 10,000,000f. from the compte de liquidation I shall resign." But in the second debate the language used was even stronger. M. Delpit proposed an addition of 10,000,000f. to the Naval Esti- mates. He said that, "under the Empire, the votes for the Navy and the Colonies averaged 216,000,000f., nearly nine millions sterling, whereas now only 153,000,000f., or six millions sterling, were proposed, in spite of the great rise in wages, iron, and coal. Of this six millions, the Colonies, including transportation, have one-fourth, and there remain only four and a half millions sterling for the Navy. The fleet 's'anéantit chaque jour graduellement.'" Even-with the 10,000,000f., he said, "we shall fall far short of the restricted plan of 1872. We have only 92 ships, and an effective of 19,283 men. At least 120,000,000f. have been spent less than the votes in the last three years. Enormous sacrifices of guns and material made in the war have not been replaced. Our sailors get no practice, and our ships have not been able to go to sea." M. Vaudier said that the unexpended credits and other losses were not 120,000,000f., but 176,000,000f., just over seven millions sterling. He agreed with the Minister that "the fleet, without additional votes, ira sans cesse en dépérissant. We were told that we ought to have 20 ships for home defence, but we have only four. As to guns, England is steadily building. We are greatly in arrear. Our storehouses are empty, both as to munitions and other supplies. We are short of shell and shot, and to replace our guns alone, 25,000,000f. are wanting, for during the war we did not build a ship or a gun." M. Farcy said—" Our ships are all out of date, and the Estimates are far below the real cost. You have 10,000 workmen in the dockyards below the number in 1871, and they cost more than the former establishment. England is studying and carrying out improved models." Admiral Jaurès said, "Ask any officer, and he will tell you of the malaise général, which results from the state of the material, from the want of training, and from the reduction in ships. At least 120,000,000f., which, according to the reduced estimates, should have been spent since 1870, are lost." Admiral de la Roncière le Noury said—"Look at the list of unemployed officers who are seeing their ships perishing in the dockyards; the candidates for the Naval School are falling off; the students of the Polytechnic School no longer apply to come into the Navy. Prestige is leaving the Navy. You are spending 30,000,000f. less than before 1871, and this is having permanent and fatal consequences." Admiral Fourichon said—"The 10,000,000f. that we ask fox-will only give the administration 'la faculté de ralentir le dépérisscment de la flotte,' to fit out a few ships and establish a squadron of exercise." Admiral Pothuau, the ex-Marine Minister, said—"To reconstruct the Navy you must spread over a series of years 70,000,000f. We are short of this by 22,000,000f. Prices have risen 30 per cent. Guns have to be built, and much more ought to go to torpedoes. We want a far greater force of sea-going ships." And now followed a remarkable conversation which he thought his right hon. Friends opposite must have rehearsed before they gave to the House their recent conflicting views as to the "scare," and the need of additional estimates. M. Lefébure, the Under Secretary of Finance, in the absence of the Minister, said—"We have not got the money in the Budget, and what is more, this would involve additions in future years." Upon which the Minister of Marine, Admiral de Dompierre d'Hornoy said—"The Assembly has to decide what it can give, but my duty as a Minister is to say that, if it will consent to make sacrifices for the Navy, it would be wise to vote for M. Vaudier's Amendment. Its object is to develope our Naval material, and it is to this end we should aim." There appeared to have been in the French Assembly an ex-Minister who took almost the same line as his right hon. Friend the Member for the City. Said M. Pieard—" But the Minister of Finance does not agree with the Minister of Marine." To which Admiral Dompierre replied—" Oh no; we don't differ. It is my duty as Minister to say to the Assembly, 'Donnez nous le plus possible.' It is his duty to examine what he can dispose of." Upon this another Minister intervened—M. Deseilligny, the Minister of Commerce—who said—" All that the Minister of Marino can do is to say what he wants, not to touch the financial question. I was nearly yielding to an 'entrainement patriotirpte' until I remembered that we have no resources." Some discussion then took place as to the form of the Amendment, but in the end it was negatived by 428 to 184. He found that while all the Admirals on the independent benches voted for the Amendment, all the Government voted against it, except only the Minister of Marine, who walked out of the House. Well, this showed pretty well what was the state of opinion in France with respect to the Navy. He only hoped that the First Lord of the Admiralty would not find it necessary to follow to the end the example of his French Colleague. Turning then to the United States—the American Navy had no iron-clad broadside ships. It consisted altogether of monitors, of which there were nominally 46 in existence, ranked in nine classes; but of this number the greater part were failures, and not above four of them were seagoing ships. He would, with the permission of the House, read the following extract from the Report of the Secretary of the United States Navy for 1871, presented with the Estimates for 1873:—"Adsum qui feci; in me convertite ferrum;"
That was the Report of the Secretary for the American Navy. But the following enclosures were still more precise. Mr. Case in his Report said that the present condition of the American Navy was really an abandonment of all effort to solve the ordnance question of the day—they were standing absolutely still, while every nation in Europe was steadily improving. Commodore Rogers reported that the American Navy-yards were totally inefficient to furnish them with the means of contending with a foreign maritime nation. Mr. Hans-come reported that very little could be said in favour of the American ironclads, only 11 of which had 500 tons measurement, had little speed, and had been built in violation of all established principles of naval architecture. Commodore Parkes reported that the evolutions of the fleet certainly demonstrated the lamentable condition of the American Navy; and he asked what would be the effect in an engagement of a fleet only going four knots an hour?—and this while England was making every improvement possible in naval architecture and the appliances for warfare. The officers of the American fleet denounced the vessels that composed it, speaking of them, as a whole, as "a lot of old tubs." Admiral Porter reported the condition and the personnel of the American Navy as being very bad, while the average speed of the ships was only eight knots an hour, against the 14 or 15 knots of the British Navy. That gallant officer further stated that the fleet of Great Britain was most formidable in iron-clads, that never in the history of England was she better prepared for war in ships, material, men, and officers, and that the British fleet now boasted the finest equipped iron ships in existence, capable of contending with the combined Navies of Europe, and went on to say that the errors of the Board of Admiralty, so unjustly criticized, were comparatively few, and had in most instances been rectified. Turning to the condition of the Russian Navy, he (Mr. Childers) was able to state that it consisted of 17 vessels—namely, of seagoing broadside vessels, two of the Sevastopol class, inferior to the Warrior; two of the Kremlin class, inferior to the Defence; one of the Pervenitz class, still smaller, about, equal to the Pallas; one circular ship, one turret-ship, like the Monarch, and 16 Monitors. Of Russian ships building, there was the Peter the Great intended to equal our Devastation, one circular ship, and two partially-protected armoured cruisers. Thus they had building and built two first-class sea-going turret-ships, two second-class armoured cruisers, six inferior broadside ships, two circular ships, and 17 Monitors for the Baltic. The German fleet built and building consisted of nine vessels—namely, one first-class, two second-class, and one small iron-clad, sea-going ships built, and three first-class turret-ships equal to the Monarch, and two first-class broadside ships like the Sultan building—in all nine, besides two very small turret-ships. Of other European Navies, Austria had 7 iron-clads and one building, all but two being of very thin iron—Italy had three iron-clads, and was building three—besides some which she was anxious to dispose of, and which, perhaps, Her Majesty's Government might like to possess themselves of seeing that they could scarcely be inferior to the ships in our Navy as described by the right hon. Gentleman the other evening. Turkey also has an effective second-class fleet. But he would put the matter to the only test which was possible in argument. He was about to state a proposition which, no doubt, would be very carefully criticized, and which he stated in order that it might be so criticised. He would state it in moderate language, and yet with the firm belief that he was not in the least exaggerating, or going beyond what was justified by the facts which he had given to the House—he feared in too great detail. His proposition was this: If—which might God avert—we should be, at 24 hours' notice, entangled, without an ally, in a war with the three principal maritime Powers, even allowing an ally to them, our strength was such that we should be able to hold our own in the Channel, in our Home seas, in the Mediterranean, and in the Chinese and Colonial waters. Within six months, such was the power of developing a force afloat which this nation possessed, we should have complete command of the seas, and have ruined our opponents' commerce; and within 12 or 15 months, at the outside, we should have added so many powerful ships to the Navy as would prevent any enemy's ship from putting to sea without the almost certainty of meeting with a superior British force. If that proposition were true, as he maintained it was, it was unpardonable—he was compelled to use strong language on the subject—that the First Lord of the Admiralty should come down and give to the country and to Europe, in a speech composed for political purposes and replete with party phrases, these depreciating descriptions of the Navy. He repeated that it was unpardonable to create that "scare" which his speech, his references to dummy ships and paper fleets, produced throughout the country. No doubt it was always easy, for a new First Lord to find excuses, and perhaps good ones, for spending £100,000 or £200,000. Let the right hon. Gentleman propose additional Votes and the House would discuss the point whether they were called for or not—although he should advise the right hon. Gentleman to study the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and endeavour to provide for increased expenditure in one branch of the Navy by increased economy in the others, without disturbing the financial position. He ventured to warn the right hon. Gentleman against again embarking on the most dangerous sea of increased naval and military expenditure. The present Government had a majority of 60, and could do almost what they liked; but let them be certain that when the pinch came—as come it would—the country would lay the blame for increased taxation at their door. Economy might not be in fashion at this period of high wages and luxurious living, but, however temporarily popular, he implored the Government to pause in this baneful career. To have added, in a time of profound peace, to the already heavy expenditure on our armaments would be remembered against them long after the causes of their accession to power had been forgotten. It might be otherwise in troublous times—"Unless something is done to supply the deficiency of ships, our cruising Navy, scarcely respectable for a nation of our rank and responsibilities, will soon almost wholly pass out of existence. I hope that efficient measures will be taken to cheek the decline of our naval power. The commercial nations of Europe are able to strike our shores sharply and suddenly. Our own yards, small in area, very deficient in water front, developed on no well-considered plan are imperfectly adapted to the changed condition of construction and equipment. The whole number of our officers, including lieutenants and those above them, is 488."
"When Fortune, various goddess, lowers,
Collect your strength, exert your powers;
But when she breathes a kinder gale,
Be wise, and furl your swelling sail."
said, that no one would grudge the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Childers) this long-deferred opportunity of defending his past policy. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to think that his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty had selected an inopportune moment to justify the policy pursued by Mr. Corry; but if hon. Members would carry their recollections back a few years, they would remember the violent attacks made upon Mr. Corry's administration; and by none were those attacks more frequent than by the late Prime Minister, who however, was everywhere answered by his right hon. Friend the present Home Secretary (Mr. Cross). What they contended was, that after Mr. Corry had loft the Admiralty, the Navy had not been kept up in so efficient a manner as it ought to have been. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen), in the speech which he had made, did not attempt to controvert the facts cited by his right hon. Friend. So much, indeed, was this the case, that the right hon. Gentleman's speech was generally regarded as one of confession and avoidance. What they were discussing that evening, however, was not the policy of the late Government, but the Navy Estimates for 1874–5, and the Committee would therefore excuse him if he did not follow the right hon. Gentleman at great length. He thought the amalgamation at Whitehall, and some other parts of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman were meritorious, though there were other points open to doubt. The question of the Dockyards, for instance, was one that required—and he hoped Mould on a fitting opportunity receive—careful examination; but it was too soon, as yet to expect the present Administration to be able to determine whether the changes introduced by the right hon. Gentleman were advisable or not. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) claimed for himself and the late Government the merit of having exercised an economy which had resulted in a saving of £8,000,000 to the country. But the argument of the right hon. Gentleman appeared to be this:—"We saved the country £8,000,000, and there would have been no such saving if you had been in office." For this assumption he could see no ground whatever. If a Conservative Government had been in power, the saving might possibly not have been so great; but it was utterly groundless to say that no economy whatever would have been effected. The increase of some £500,000 in the Naval Estimates of this year, only showed that the economies effected in past years could not be maintained. He referred to the increase in the Estimates since 1868, and it was probable that if the right hon. Gentleman opposite had remained in office till now he would himself have felt obliged to ask for a certain amount more money. He would now come to the question of our iron-clad fleet. On inquiry, he found the fullest confirmation for the statements which his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty had made a few days since. He found that the total number of our iron-clads was 55, of which 41 were sea-going vessels, and 14 for harbour defence. Those 41, however, included five that were now being built, so that 36 would be left after making this deduction. There were, however, nine ships of an admittedly inferior type, and these would still further reduce the number to 27, and of these, 18 were stated at the present moment to be effective. Besides these 18, we had 14 iron-clads fit for harbour defence, of which eight were stated to be effective ships. But if the late Government were right, in addition to reserve ships, which ought always to be in an efficient condition, we ought to have 21 sea-going iron-clads always in a most efficient state. At present, whereas we ought to have 21 effective ships, we had, adding the two rams to the 16 broadside iron-clads, only 18. This was a fact which had very properly engaged the attention of the First Lord of the Admiralty. It was quite a different question, whether we ought to have the three others. He denied that the right hon. Gentleman in introducing the Navy Estimates had in the slightest degree attempted to create a "scare." It was his business to see that the reliefs on which the country counted were fit for service, and his remarks on the ironclads had been made in accordance with this responsibility. What had boon said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Childers) as to the strength of the British Navy compared with those of foreign Powers was no doubt true. Our Navy was certainly as strong as any two others, and would probably in a fight with many combined fleets be able to give a good account of herself. There was no desire to throw blame broadcast on the late Board of Admiralty. For his own part, he was quite ready to admit that the question as to the repairs of iron-clads was a most difficult one the details of which had not as yet been mastered. Even now the main causes of deterioration of boilers were not known. All they knew was that, unfortunately, the improvements which had been made in the engines had led to a rapid deterioration of the boilers, and the First Lord had done the best thing in his power to remedy this state of things by appointing a Committee to inquire into it. With regard to another point, the Dockyard authorities stated that it was one of the most difficult things in the world to estimate, when an iron-clad came in for repairs, what the cost was likely to be. With increasing experience this would probably become less difficult, and it would be possible to tell how long it was desirable to allow a vessel to remain on service without being docked. But with regard to this subject generally, his chief desire was to protest against the notion that there had been any intention on the part of the First Lord of the Admiralty to frighten the country. If the country would be frightened, it must he frightened, but he did not think there was any cause for it. At present we were, happily, in a period of profound peace; and no doubt there would be plenty of time to look around us and do what was best for our Navy. In reference to the management of the Dockyards, on which the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Admiral Elliot) had made a strong speech, he would make one or two remarks, such as might occur to any one, and without presuming, on a two months' connection with the Admiralty. The hon. and gallant Member had urged that by far the greater proportion of the workmen ought to be on the Establishment. An obvious objection to that course was that it would cause an enormous increase in the pension list. Then remarks had been made—which seemed really to have been intended to produce a "scare"—as to the effect unions might have on hired men. As a large employer of labour in collieries in Lancashire, he had had considerable experience of unions, and he did not stand in great fear of them. He had simply ignored them—that was to say, he did not mind whether his employés were in unions or not; he let them do exactly as they pleased. No doubt there had been of late the nuisance of unions encouraging strikes; but the general result had not been such as to lead him to change his conduct with regard to them. There were other questions—for the most part questions of detail—in connection with the Dockyards. These, however, could be more conveniently discussed when the particular Votes to which they related were submitted. As to the relative cost of building ships in Government Dockyards and in private yards, large ships, such as the Minotaur, Thunderer, and Achilles, could be built cheaper in the Dockyards, but small ships could be built for less in private yards. He had no doubt that the Board of Admiralty, as at present constituted, would be found competent to deal with all these matters.
said, while complimenting the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) on the ability of his defence, he felt some surprise that the defence had been so long deferred. Moreover, it seemed to him that the right hon. Gentleman had led them into a somewhat unprofitable line of discussion. The policy he had defended was a policy of the past. It was a policy which, if not altogether abandoned by his successor in the office of First Lord, had been, at all events, considerably altered and departed from by him. He claimed credit for having saved £8,000,000; but the real question to be decided was, whether the savings effected had been true economics. The matter, however, which pressed for consideration was not the conduct of this or that Administration, but the present state of the Navy. The speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty had been severely criticized; but he thought that his right hon. Friend was deserving of much praise, for having been bold enough to tell the House the whole truth with reference to the Navy. His right hon. Friend had informed them that he had taken the Estimates of his predecessors; that those Estimates had been framed by the late First Lord, in conjunction with the heads of Departments; and, consequently, that they had been framed in accordance with the views of that right hon. Gentleman as to the requirements of the Navy. Now, a report had been in circulation, and had received a certain amount of confirmation from publication in the Press, to the effect that very shortly before the late First Lord left the office, he was informed by his naval advisers that the state of the Navy was very unsatisfactory, and, moreover, that to render it satisfactory, a very largo outlay of money would be required. As an independent Member of the House, he desired to ask whether there was any truth in this report? [Mr. GOSCHEN: Am I to answer the question now?] The right hon. Gentleman might please himself on that point, he should prefer an answer later. If the report was true, it afforded a complete justification of the course which had been taken by the present First Lord. It was the absolute duty of the First Lord of the Admiralty to tell the country fairly what the state of the Navy was, and he was sure that the House would not grudge any outlay which might be necessary to remedy any defects which might be found in it, for the people of England would never sit patiently under the imputation that their Navy was not in an efficient condition. Now, his complaint was that the Admiralty, with all its resources, science, and expenditure—and he was very much of opinion that science and expenditure were synonymous terms—had not up to the present moment succeeded in furnishing the country with what could be regarded as in all respects the efficient fighting ship for the future. Admiral Sir Sidney Dacres stated before the Committee on Designs, that the war ships of the country were unhandy and unmanageable, and another gallant Admiral gave expression to a similar view with regard to the ships of the Vanguard class. Such was the view which led to the construction of the Devastation and her sister vessel the Thunderer. He saw that ship some time ago in company with a gallant Admiral, a friend of his and when they went into the stoke-room they found the heat was tremendous. He asked the commander what was the cause of that great heat, and he said it would be still greater if all the five fires were lighted, whereas there were only two then alight. The gallant Admiral who was with him also pointed out another disadvantage, and that was, that she could not be driven with her head to sea at a high steam power, and that if she were, in the Atlantic roll to encounter a cross sea, she would also run a great risk. Costly alterations, had, however, since been made in the Devastation, and he believed she was perfectly competent to discharge the duty to which she was now, it appeared, relegated—that of a ship of defence in the Channel or near home. An enormous pilot tower which she carried, and which weighed 10 tons, had been removed; but those alterations justified him in saying, that the Devastation of to-day was not the Devastation of a year ago. But she, and such vessels as she, were at a discount, and were not to be looked upon in the light of ocean-going fighting ships of the future. Now, there was the Inflexible, of which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goschen) had given a very glowing account last year, stating that no ship could steam faster or carry heavier guns, and that she was to be made almost impregnable with 12 or 14 inches of armour. Well, if that was so, why, he wanted to know, was not her construc- tion hurried on a little more quickly, so that the English people might see that they had an ocean-going fighting ship—a thing which they had been looking for for a long time, but which, according to the highest authorities on the subject, they did not yet possess. After all that had been said on the subject of the Navy of late, it was quite clear, he thought, that the idea of any large reduction in our naval expenditure could not be entertained. His hon. Friend, the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Reed) who had spoken most ably on the subject, had told the House that under the head of training men at sea, no decrease was to be expected, taking the present cost of the ships and the diminished number of the crews. The cost of such training he represented as an enormously increased cost, and if the same number of men were to be trained—and nobody ventured to say there were too many men—the calculation of his hon. Friend would probably be found to be correct. Then a good deal was said about boilers; but there was, perhaps, a crumb of comfort to be found in connection with that subject, because it was pretty evident that boilers which might be incapable of working up to 70 on the square inch, might very well work up to 30, and do useful work near home. They heard a great deal about foreign Navies. He ventured to think, when they were discussing their own Estimates in the House of Commons, that those frequent references to foreign Navies were objectionable. He granted that that consideration must have a material influence on the action and policy of the Admiralty; but why-should not the House of Commons put our Navy in a state worthy of the first naval Power of the world—for that was our admitted position—without reference to foreign Navies at all? He thought those comparisons were odious, and offensive to Foreign Powers. The present Prime Minister told them two years ago that military and naval armaments depended very much upon our foreign policy. Well, we had now at the Foreign Office perhaps the calmest and most prudent statesman of our day. Lord Derby was not the man to say or write anything that was likely to bring about a war with any State, much less a combination of two or more of the maritime States of Europe against us. He had very great confidence in that noble Lord, and the nation, he believed, shared that confidence with him. Therefore, there was no reason for panic-stricken legislation, or for rushing into any extravagant schemes of naval construction. But what he thought was necessary, and what he urged on the Admiralty was, that they should put our fleet—and should appeal to the House of Commons fairly for the means of putting it—in a condition worthy of the dignity and the position of this great country. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) at the end of his speech, went into a very long and most unnecessary detail of the naval resources of France, actually comparing the small amount of her Estimates with our own large Estimates. But he entirely forgot to remind us that France was only just emerging from one of the most severe financial crises ever known; he forgot, moreover, what was the standing menace of France—Germany with 1,100,000 armed men ready to leave their barracks at any moment; and he also forgot what was still more important—that the darling day dream of France was the recovery of her lost provinces, Alsace and Lorraine,—an enterprise in the execution of which her fleet could do little or nothing. Well, what the nation was—he would not say alarmed but—annoyed at was that, after what had been held up to them as a very successful and economical naval policy for several years, our Navy was not in an efficient condition, and that was the opinion of the naval advisers of the Admiralty. In conclusion, then, he urged them to press forward the work on the ships they had in hand with greater energy, and—in the words of an American statesman already quoted by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) that evening—he "hoped that the proper steps would be taken to prevent the decline of our Navy."
said, he hoped there would be a disposition on both sides of the House to adopt a more uniform and steady policy with regard to naval expenditure than had prevailed of late years. He earnestly protested against the fluctuating policy of our naval administration. The efficiency of the British Navy ought never to become the battle-field of political partisans, and he hoped Parliament and the country would pronounce a definite opinion, obligatory on successive naval administrations, at least until the relative positions of the British and foreign Navies were materially altered. Under existing circumstances, all that was required might, he believed, be accomplished with an average expenditure of £10,000,000, though in some years, with an exceptional proportion of repairing, an addition to that average might be required. The average yearly expenditure for the 10 years previous to 1869 was£11,587,041, and for the next five years £9,785,915 A slight addition to the average expenditure of the late Administration, which might, perhaps, have allowed barely enough for repairs for iron-clads and the construction of a sufficient number of unarmoured vessels to relieve those now in commission, would keep us well ahead of every conceivable combination of naval Powers which could be formed against us. No real economy could be obtained in dockyard and naval administration without observing the principle of an equable rate of expenditure. In an essay on labour and wages he had drawn attention to the fact that in 1865, when there was great pressure on the labour-market, wages reached a point at which they had never stood before, and yet shipwrights at Sheerness were content to work at 4s. 6d. a-day, when they could have obtained 6s. 6d. at many shipbuilding establishments on the banks of the Thames. They preferred more moderate wages with a certainty of employment to higher wages without such certainty. Hasty dismissals of workmen from the Dockyards should, therefore, be avoided as tending to impair the confidence of permanency, but it did not follow that the reduction of the numbers of established men was impolitic. With a large number of these men, the Dockyards might be encumbered with many useless people, against whom no definite charges could be made, and who could not, therefore, be got rid of. The idea had, until lately, too widely prevailed that Dockyard administration was a synonym for extravagance; but he believed it was in some respects superior in quality and approximately equal in cost to the work done in the private trade. No private employer could obtain as good workmen as the Government for the wages paid in the Dockyards; and among the salaried officers, many would be found who could obtain three times as much pay in the private trade. He thoroughly concurred in the spirit of the declaration made by the First Lord of the Admiralty that it was not a proper thing for the Admiralty of this country to possess a fleet merely upon paper. Whatever ships were put forward as those on which the country might rely, should be kept in such a state as to be able to be sent to any part of the world where their services might be needed. The truth was that the general condition of the Navy was the joint result of successive Administrations, and it must be a source of satisfaction to know that that condition was judged of approvingly by those who watched the state of our Navy from a foreign point of view. The Commission which reported to the Trench Assembly on the Budget for this year suggested that those who were disappointed at reductions being found necessary in French naval expenditure, might find some consolation in the fact that at present it was impossible to determine what type of ship should be adopted by French constructors. Baron Grivel, a great authority on naval construction, pointed out the defects which existed in vessels fully protected with armour, and showed that a vessel fully protected with armour could hardly be produced at a moderate draught of water. As long ago as 1860 it was laid down by Lord Lauderdale and other naval officers that the draught of vessels intended for coast defence purposes should not exceed 16 feet. When a policy of increased expenditure on account of iron-clads was suggested, it should be remembered that it had been stated by Admiral Porter, of the United States Navy, that torpedo boats would soon become the light dragoons of the fleet, and would, under cover of their smoke, be enabled to attack the largest vessel with impunity. He would now inquire whether there had been anything either in the construction or the mode of using the boilers of our iron-clads which had led to their premature deterioration. From a recent Return, it appeared that the Minotaur, completed in 1867, and the Valiant, in 1868, were now receiving new boilers, and that the Bellerophon, which was completed in 1866, received new boilers in 1870. In these cases the duration of the boilers was decidedly inferior to the results obtained in the merchant service. By the kindness of Mr. Bums, one of the owners of the ships of the Cunard service, he was enabled to state the results obtained in two steamers belonging to that company. The steamship Russia left Liverpool on her first voyage on the 15th of May, 1867, and in November. 1872, completed her 53rd voyage to and from New York. In this service she had run 328,600 knots, and was then laid up for repairs. Her boilers were lifted and re-tubed and the bottoms renewed. A new steam chest and funnel were added, and her engines were put in thorough working order, the whole being effected at a total cost of £16,444. She left Liverpool again in the following March, and up to March last had performed 10 additional voyages, or 62,000 knots. The Scotia left Liverpool on her first voyage to New York in May, 1862, and commenced her 78th trip in April, 1874, having in the interval run a distance of 483,600 knots. It was found that the Cunard steamers required re-tubing after about 50 voyages between Liverpool and New York, and the boilers were then re-tubed, but not renewed in any other way. He questioned if any such result had as yet been accomplished in a man-of-war. Again, he entertained some doubts as to whether the boilers of the ships in reserve were as carefully preserved as they ought to be. It was the practice, he believed, until a recent period, to get up steam at least once a year in every ship in the Steam Reserve. He was informed that such a plan was most detrimental to the boilers. It remained to be considered whether the appointment and professional instruction of the Engineers of the Navy left anything to be desired. It seemed to him that too many highly educated men were employed in the engine-rooms of our men-of-war. Skilled mechanics would perform the manual duties as well or better, and they would not feel the social disadvantages of the junior grades of engineer officers, nor the same discontent at the want of promotion. This change had recently been made, and with satisfactory results, in the United States Navy. In our Navy the pay of the highest grade of engineer officers was on a liberal scale, but the subordinate grades were most inadequately paid. There were in our service a class of engine-room artificers. These men had become more and more essen- tial on board ships fitted with the complicated appliances introduced into the later iron-clads. They ought to be operative mechanics of the highest class. But the pay of 5s. a day was insufficient to induce the best qualified artizans to serve in the fleet. The system of introducing into the Navy engineers from the private engine building establishments had ceased. All our engineer officers were now trained by the Government, and it was a question whether that training was in all cases as practical as it ought to be. He should be glad to see the opportunity still given to the sons of employés in the Dockyards to become engineers in the Navy; but he should also recommend that a certain proportion of the appointments should be given to individuals coming with satisfactory recommendations from the great engine-makers. On the subject of remuneration, he entertained a strong opinion that the salary of the Engineer in Chief of the Navy, and the pay and position accorded to the engineer officers of the Navy, and especially the superior officers at the Admiralty, were insufficient. He also thought that our officers and seamen should not be embarked in unnecessary numbers in iron-clads in time of peace. They would be much more likely to acquire proficiency as seamen in large ships capable of being manœuvred under sail. Considered as a floating barrack, as a gymnasium for the physical training of seamen, a three-decker, such as the Marlborough, offered immense advantages over the Devastation or the Fury. There would be a considerable economy in adopting the course he suggested. By keeping the iron-clads in reserve, and adopting the most effectual means for the preservation of the boilers, our fighting vessels would be preserved from deterioration. He suggested that, in order to afford means of instruction to our seamen, a sufficient number of iron-clads of each type should be attached to the gunnery ships, and also that a squadron of such vessels should be sent to Malta or Bermuda for training purposes in peace, and for immediate service in war. He looked upon the great Mercantile Marine of the country as the very backbone of our naval power. It was impossible to sustain our Navy without the aid afforded by the Mercantile Marine, not merely as a nursery for seamen, but in the maintenance of great shipbuilding establishments, capable of furnishing shipbuilders, and all the materials we required when it became necessary to make large additions to our fighting Navy. When we took that into account, any doubt or misgiving as to our naval superiority need no longer be entertained.
remarked that the great wear and tear in the machinery of our ships was owing to the fact that the late Government, through a desire for economy, had supplied the Navy with cheap mixed coal, which destroyed the machinery more rapidly than good coal would have done; and thus, instead of saving our money, they had, by false economy, brought upon us a large expenditure. With regard to the remarkable ship the Devastation, they had been told by some that she could do everything, and by others that she could do nothing. He certainly was surprised to hear a competent authority assert that she was a sea-going ship. Of course-she would float; but if she was caught in a gale of wind which required her hatches to be battened down for several days the crew would die from suffocation. She was no doubt a valuable ship for home defence. The right hon. Hem-bar for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) had made an admirable speech; he had put everything in a charming position for himself; he had proved that everything he had done was for the best, and that everything everybody else-had done was for the worst. He would not attempt to disturb the right hon. Gentleman from that charming position; and therefore he would at once proceed to refer to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen), because it appeared to him that that speech was pregnant with very important matter. The right hon. Gentleman had, in his statement the other day, given the House details which, coming as they did from so high an authority, must be assumed to be correct, and which had contributed no little to the "scare" which the country had received in reference to our Navy. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman amounted to his saying that we had no Navy at all. He stated that of the very small number of ships which we did possess, the greater part were not in an efficient condition.
explained that what he had said related to the cost of putting certain of the ships into a good condition.
said, that the details which the right hon. Gentleman had given showed that the Navy was not in an efficient state. Indeed, all went to show that at the present moment the condition of the Navy was most inefficient, and his statement had been endorsed by what had fallen from the present First Lord, and from hon., right hon., and gallant Members on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech had done what was scarcely necessary for him to do; he had gone the length of apologizing for what he termed his extravagance in the matter of Naval expenditure. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that whatever charges might be brought against him with regard to our Navy, that of extravagance would not be one of them. The right hon. Gentleman went on to make a boast of the number of ships he had built—why, comparatively speaking, he had not done anything in the way of building ships at all. The result of his administration, by his own showing, was that we had hardly any Navy we could send to sea. ["No!"] The right hon. Gentleman had explained that one of the causes of his extravagant expenditure upon the Navy was the increased cost of repairing our iron-clads. That was no new story; when the right hon. Gentleman first took office he was aware that we should have to spend more in repairing our iron-clads and in maintaining our Navy in an efficient condition than we had done formerly. Then he went on to state that as fast as we built ships they went out of date; but that was au argument against building any iron-clads at, all. But, allowing ourselves to entertain the agreeable idea, just for the sake of argument, that we possessed a Navy which we could send to sea, where was our reserve of ships of war in case our present fleet was crippled by an engagement with an enemy? Successive Governments had reduced our Dockyards so that we could not rely upon them to repair our ships in times of emergency, and we should have no vessels to take the place of the injured ones. He regretted the unwise course that had been pursued of getting rid of our old screw line-of-battle ships, which would have been well fitted to contend with the crippled remains of an enemy's fleet. That was the description of ships we ought to have to make sailors; you could not make sailors on board an iron-clad. Under the present system expensive vessels were sent to sea for the purpose of training men who were able to learn nothing on board of them, and which were in so inefficient a condition that in the event of the outbreak of war, when speed would be a great element of strength, they would be found to be almost perfectly useless. But the alarm which the statement of the late First Lord of the Admiralty was calculated to create was increased by what fell from his right hon. Friend who was now at the head of the Department. He was unable, he must say, to reconcile his right hon. Friend's statement in moving the Navy Estimates with that which was made a few nights afterwards by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was always better to speak out on those occasions, and he hoped before the end of the debate the obscurity in which the two statements involved tin-subject would be cleared up; because, if the Navy was in the state represented by the First Lord of the Admiralty, he was at a loss to understand how the very small sum mentioned by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer could meet the difficulties of the case. There was another very important point to which he wished to draw the attention of the Committee. He saw that morning in The Times a paragraph copied from The Pall Mall Gazette, which was as follows:—
That was a statement which was tolerably clear. [Mr. GOSCHEN: And intolerably false.] He was glad to hear the denial of the right hon. Gentleman. Having seen the statement in the leading journal, he thought it was only just to him that the opportunity for giving that denial should have been afforded him. He hoped, however, that the right hon. Gentleman would he more distinct and explicit in his disavowal of the truth of the paragraph in question; for what the Committee wanted to know was, whether the late Board of Admiralty ever received any communication from their naval officers complaining of the condition of the Navy, and calling upon the Board to expend a large sum of money to place it in a state of greater efficiency. That was a point on which he should like to have a clear and definite answer from the right hon. Gentleman; and he would simply add the expression of a hope that his right hon. Friend at the head of the Admiralty would he prepared to remove the "scare" which now existed with respect to our naval resources. He might rest assured that the House and the country would grudge no outlay which might be necessary to put our Navy on a satisfactory footing."It appears that long before the resignation of the late Government, Admiral Sir Alexander Milne and his professional colleagues were impressed with the fact that our sea-going fleet was not in such a state as to comport with the position of the first maritime nation of the world. They were also aware that we were very weak in reliefs; they therefore felt bound to express their views in writing to Mr. Goschen, and declared in doing so that a considerable outlay was necessary to carry them out. Whatever may have been the opinions entertained by the First Lord of the Admiralty, he did not feel justified in taking any step on his own authority which might lead to additional expenditure, and he laid the communication which he received before the Cabinet."
said, that after the long and able speeches of his right hon. Friends near him he should not have trespassed on the time of the Committee, had he not held a somewhat-important position in the administration of the Navy under the late Government. For five years that Government had carried on the affairs of the country, and now great lamentations were raised as to the bad condition in which they had left our fleet, and great complaints were made that the Dockyards had been reduced to a state of disorganization. Well, that being so, the House had heard what was the view taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of all those statements. It was measured by the sum of £100,000. That was all the difference between the two Governments after five years of administration. All the delinquencies of the late Government could now, it seemed, be covered by that very moderate amount. That admission, he contended, afforded the best testimony to the soundness of the policy which that Government had pursued. Those who looked to the right hon. Gentleman's Colleague, the First Lord of the Admiralty, would no doubt be disposed to take a much more serious view of the case, although he, too, had made no complaint on the personnel of the Navy, while he was silent on the subject of stores. With respect to stores, he might perhaps be allowed to ask the right hon. Gentleman if it was true that he found himself able to divert a small sum from the money voted for stores to the Shipbuilding Vote, for if true there could be no stronger evidence that our Dockyards were not insufficiently supplied. He should also like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman was not of opinion that our stores were, as a whole, in good condition? Now, although the speech of the right hon. Gentleman in bringing forward the Estimates was somewhat alarming, that to which the House had listened from the Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. A. F. Egerton) was most moderate in its tone. That hon. Gentleman admitted that our Navy would, if called upon, be prepared to meet all the Navies of the world the only deficiency in our fleet, in his opinion, being that three vessels required new boilers. His Colleague, however, while adopting a different tone, informed the House that he was not in a position to state how much money would be required to supply the deficiencies to which he drew attention. It would now appear to amount to £100,000 and possible savings from some other Votes. But if the Navy was in a bad state it was the duty of his right hon. Friend to ask a Vote to put it in a good state; and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to dispose of the whole surplus it would be idle to come clown to the House and complain of the condition of the Navy. The Committee, however, was not without a test in this matter, for it appeared that the weight of responsibility on the Government with regard to the Navy was not equal to the weight of their responsibility for the burden of the horse duty. That duty amounted to £500,000, and if not abolished this year would have afforded a large sum of money for the Navy. And here he would say that the right hon. Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay) had lost an opportunity of providing means for putting the Navy into that state of efficiency in which he wished to see it, for he had taken no action to prevent the abolition of the horse duty. Now, either the Navy was in an efficient condition and then no money was required for it, or it was inefficient and then money ought to be supplied to render it efficient. The hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) had stated that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Goschen) admitted the Navy was not efficient. But that was an entire misrepresentation of the drift of his right hon. Friend's speech. What his right hon. Friend had said was this—"If the Navy is inefficient, we have left you a surplus, out of which you can put it in an efficient state." He had no wish to follow the First Lord of the Admiralty into an historical disquisition as to the merits of the late Mr. Carry. He had always acknowledged that Gentleman's merits, though he thought him inclined to spend too much money. The First Lord of the Admiralty gave the late Government credit for gradually increasing the expenditure during the last two years until it approached the point at which it had been left by Mr. Corry. But the right hon. Gentleman did not make sufficient allowance for the increase in prices. There had been an increase in the naval expenditure of £400,000 last year and £500,000 this; but all that sum, with the exception of £100,000, was due to the increase in the rate of wages and the rise in the price of coal and iron, and especially of engines and ships built by contract. In France the rise in prices was estimated at 30 per cent. and in this country if he took it at 25 per cent he could not be far wrong. But the late Government proposed to put an addition of 1,300 men to the Dockyards, which would represent an increase of cost of from £90,000 to £100,000. Practically the Navy Estimates for the past five years had been nearly at the same point from year to year. The Committee would observe that these Estimates had been explained by the First Lord of the Admiralty in a hostile spirit. For the first time in his experience the Navy Estimates had been introduced by a right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench who, while he put them forward as the Estimates of the Government, stated at the same time that he was not satisfied with them. Now he objected very strongly to the form of the right hon. Gentleman's statement. By exaggerating the number of iron-clads, and by inserting vessels which were now building, vessels which were obsolete, and others which never ought to be included in the same list as vessels like the Sultan and the Hercules, the right hon. Gentleman swelled the number of our iron-clads up to 55; and then by taking a very unfavourable view of several of them, he made it appear that the proportion of efficient vessels to the total was very small. The fact was we had not 55 iron-clads—we never had, and never intended to have, so many. It was admitted that five were building for the purpose of replacing others which had become obsolete, and therefore he would deduct them. He would likewise deduct six small vessels, among which were the Viper, the Scorpion, the Wirern, and the Enterprise, three of which were gunboats, and the rest were never powerful vessels. That brought clown the total to 14, and from that number he would also very properly deduct six other vessels of the Caledonia class. These were converted iron-clads, which had been discounted long ago as not being of a durable character, and they ought not to be included in any permanent list of iron-clads used for the purposes of comparison. It would be unwise to repair them for a four years' commission, though they were not without some value and might be repaired at a moderate expense sufficiently to take a position in a second line in the Channel in an emergency. Deducting these we had 38 iron-clads. The First Lord had not given his classification, and by not doing so had caused alarm; but it might be laid down that the most recent and most powerful vessels were the most efficient, and it was the weaker iron-clads that were the least efficient. The 38 might be divided into two classes—the unmasted Channel offence and defence fleet, and masted sea going vessels. The first class included 11 vessels, the Devastation, the Thunderer—which could be completed in a few months—the four vessels of the Cyclops class, the Rupert, the Glatton, the Hotspur, the Royal Sovereign, and the Prince Alfred. He would not accept the gloomy views that were taken of the Devastation. The Report of Captain Hewitt showed that it was a vessel of the greatest value; and, as to its being a vessel which could not be forced against a head wind in all weathers, what vessel could be? It might be used for offence or defence in the Channel and the Mediterranean, and possibly for crossing the Atlantic. The vessels he had named—all, except the Royal Sovereign and the Prince Alfred, built within the last five years—were most powerful; they were armed with the largest guns known, and made our coast invulnerable. No Power could approach our shores in the face of this fleet supported by 22 gunboats of the Stanch class, each carrying an 18-ton gun, and all built within the last five years. This fleet, laid down by the right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), set free our masted iron-clads for any part of the world. French naval officers were of opinion that at this moment Cherbourg was entirely at the mercy of this fleet. These vessels, except the Devastation, which was on trial, were in our Dockyards, and their boilers might be expected to last for many years. This fleet alone must give the country a great sense of security. Deducting these 11 from the 38, there remained 27 seagoing masted vessels, all the best and strongest of which had been launched and completed within the last six years. There were six of the Audacious type, the Sultan, the Hercules, the Monarch. and the Bellerophon. All were in order except the Monarch, which would be ready in a few weeks. These 10 were the most powerful sea-going masted vessels in the world. Beyond those 10 vessols there were 17 others of various classes and types which had been built at different times. There had been two periods of activity in the building of iron-clads—one from 1862 to 1860, when 24 were launched and completed, and the other between 1865 and 1871, when 17 were launched and completed. All those completed at the latter period were in the best order and condition; but the others, built at an earlier period, had required some repairs within the last two years. Last year for the first time the Admiralty found these vessels coming upon them in considerable numbers, and his right hon. Friend, in laying the Estimates before the House, explained the difficulties which had arisen on account of the repairs necessary for these ironclads, and asked for 700 additional men in the Dockyards. With that aid it was hoped they would be able to repair six of the iron-clads during the year. The Estimate of the Dockyards, however, had proved inadequate. It turned out when the vessels came into the Dockyards that the expense of repairs was infinitely greater than had been considered possible; therefore, instead of being able to repair six ironclads, they were only able to repair four—the Defence, the Resistance, the Warrior, and the Bellerophon. The repair of the Minotaur and the Black Prince was postponed to this year; and having in view the enormous cost of the repair of the vessels he had referred to, his right hon. Friend had asked for a further addition of 800 men, and with that addition he proposed to repair six iron-clads in the Dockyards during the present year. With six to be repaired in the following year the difficulty of repairing these iron-clads would be entirely overcome. The other vessels to which he had alluded were the Agincourt, the Northumberland, the Penelope and Favourite. These vessels were in commission. It, was true they were working at a reduced pressure; but their maximum speed was only reduced from 14 to 12½ knots, and in the opinion of the Controller of the Navy they were perfectly able to retain their place in their squadrons. The Agincourt had been only five years in commission, and the Northumberland only six; it was therefore thought more prudent to postpone their repair till next year, leaving them for this year in their present stations. If, however, the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty chose to spend £100,000, which was the measure of the deficiency of the Admiralty, in repairing these vessels—and he might repair two of them—he should have no objection. With respect to the building programme, it should be remembered that we now possessed the three most powerful iron-clad fleets in existence. The first consisted of the mastless vessels, and contained 11 of the most powerful vessels in the world; the second fleet contained 10 of the best seagoing iron-clads in the world, and we had also 16 others of various classes and types. The first two of these fleets did not exist five years ago. They were entirely the creation of the last five years. [Captain PRICE: When were they laid down?] They were launched and completed within the last five years. Let the Committee compare the state of the Navy now with what it was five years ago, and they would find that unquestionably the iron-clad fleet was now in a stronger position than it had ever been before. We had now five vessels in hand, and the question whether we should undertake to build more should have some relation to the force of other Towers. What gave the country the greatest security, was that nearly all our ships were iron, whilst the only other powerful sea-going fleet, that of France, consisted almost wholly of wooden ships armoured; and all experience showed that these vessels would not last. He believed that only two of the French masted sea-going vessels were built of iron, and two more were now being built. He could confirm what had been stated by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers), as to the present position of the French Navy. They had the same difficulty we had experienced as to the repair of their iron-clads, with this difference—that they had no men to repair them, because in the last three years there had been a reduction of 10,000 men in their Dockyards; and, in fact, their fleet was gradually perishing away. A question had been asked by the noble Lord the Member for Northumberland (Lord Eslington), and also by the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), whether it was true that a communication had been made by the naval officers of the late Board to the then First Lord of the Admiralty, and referred to the Cabinet, with reference to the state of the Navy. He could distinctly state that no formal representation of that kind was ever made by the naval officers of the late Board, and that no representation of that kind was made to the Cabinet. He need hardly say that, while the Estimates were in course of preparation, a distinguished officer like Sir Alexander Milne, whose services were so useful to any Board of Admiralty to which he might be attached, and who would be desirous of increasing the work in the Dockyards, no doubt from time to time made representations of that kind to his right hon. Friend, who so far met his views as to propose an increase of no less than 800 men in the Dockyards; but the Estimates having been finally made up on that basis, no further representations were made to his right hon. Friend. 800 additional men were all that were asked by the Controller of the Navy for the work it-was proposed to take in hand. He, therefore, distinctly stated that no formal representation had been made to his right hon. Friend the late First Lord, and no representation of any kind was made to the Cabinet. The Estimates, as finally made up, were approved and signed by the naval officers in question. Like the French Navy, that of America was declared on official authority to be in an extremely bad state. The First Lord of the Admiralty had said that our Navy consisted of paper vessels and phantom ships; but during the last five years the late Government had constructed no less than a total of 100 vessels. Looking at the fleet as a whole, he ventured to think that it never was really in a stronger or better condition than at present. He confidently believed that his Colleagues had left the Navy in an efficient condition, and that they were not fairly open to the reproaches of the right hon. Gentleman. In his judgment it was not expedient that the House or the country should be called upon to rush into hasty expenditure, and, indeed, he did not understand that the First Lord of the Admiralty intended to follow out his speech by proposing to the House any large outlay of the public-money.
said, that when he listened to the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) it seemed as if he caught an echo of an article which had appeared in print that morning, and in which he was threatened with a severe rebuke for having dared to tell the House of Commons the truth about the iron-clad Navy. He confessed he was not inclined to "kiss the rod," even when it was wielded by the gentle hand of the right hon. Member for Pontefract. In making the statement the other night as to the condition of the iron-clad fleet, he was merely discharging his duty as the person charged with the administration of the Navy. For weeks alarming statements had been made in public prints—statements containing not merely general charges against the efficiency of the fleet, but going into particulars to show that our ships were not to be relied on. Then there was a debate in "another place," on a Motion which was not pressed in consequence of a promise being given that the matter should be noticed by himself when he introduced the Navy Estimates in the House of Commons. Again, a Motion was placed on the No- tice Paper of that House by his right hon. Friend the Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay), who intended to call attention to the condition of our ironclad fleet, and to move for a Committee of Inquiry. Under these circumstances, it appeared to him to be his duty to state to the House as plainly as he could—subject to those considerations which must necessarily influence any man in his position—what the actual condition of things was. He endeavoured to tell a plain, unvarnished tale, and he ventured to think that the tale he told was one which could not be impugned. On that occasion he stated to the House the mode in which he had endeavoured to arrive at the truth. He stated that he had had the assistance of the officers of the Department and of his naval Colleagues; that he had endeavoured to check their opinions by the opinions, as far as he could get them, of the Commanders of different stations, and that he had arrived at the facts in this way. But he would now state—for the statement was called for by some remarks which had been made—that the classification of the ships as he described them, and the very words he used, had the sanction of his chief naval adviser. He was alluding now to that part of his statement which had reference to the iron-clad fleet. And who was his chief naval adviser? Why, the chief naval adviser of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goschen). [Mr. GOSCHEN: Had the right hon. Gentleman the sanction of the Controller of the Navy?] He had the assistance of the Controller in ascertaining the condition of the fleet. The Controller, however, was not his naval adviser. His naval advisers were the Sea Lords, and he had the assistance of the whole of the Sea Lords in ascertaining the condition of the iron-clad fleet, as well as the assistance of the Controller. Well, under these circumstances, he thought it was not to be wondered at that the right hon. Gentleman who followed him in the debate did not deny the facts he had stated. He had been told his statement created a "scare." Surely, when taken by itself, it was not calculated to produce a "scare." It excited some surprise because it was contrasted with the more flattering accounts given of the Navy by responsible people at no distant period, and he believed it created a "scare" be- cause it was followed by a speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen), who while he did not deny the truth of the statement which had been made, said that if the Navy was in such a state as was represented, £6,000,000 was available to put it right, and when the right hon. Gentleman talked of millions, of course he was using language calculated to create alarm. People said—" Good God, is the Navy in such a state that £6,000,000 are wanted to put it right again?" It was that speech, coupled with the statement of the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. E. J. Reed), which created the "scare." The hon. Member talked about "phantom ships" being paraded before the country. [Mr. E. J. REED said, he never used any such phrase.] If his (Mr. Hunt's) memory were faulty, he must apologize; but he certainty thought he remembered that expression. At all events, the hon. Gentleman used language calculated to aggravate the impression which his (Mr. Hunt's) statement with regard to the Navy had made. If they could not understand the speech made by the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen), it was from no want of interpreters. He had explained it himself during the debate on the Budget, and they had had two explanations of it tonight. He (Mr. Hunt) had been taken severely to task not only by his right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract to-night, but by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London on the night of his statement, for importing what they called political and party Questions into this subject of the state of our fleet. Those who had sat with him for years in the House could bear witness that he never imported into adebate unnecessarily anything of a party character. But on the occasion in question it was necessary for him to contrast two different kinds of policy—the policy which had been adopted by those with whom he had acted on a former occasion, and the new policy adopted by those who occupied a position of power between the two Administrations of which he had been a Member. He thought it necessary also and right to vindicate the memory of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Corry), whose policy on naval matters had for many years been so severely attacked. If in taking a retrospect of the naval policy which had been pursued in this country he made use of any words which had anything of a party colour about them, all he could say was that he did it for the purpose of his argument, and not for the sake of exciting angry feelings. And, notwithstanding the denial of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) that the Estimates in his time did not arise out of political necessity, he (Mr. Hunt) was sorry to be obliged to adhere to his opinion. He traced it all to that celebrated Lancashire campaign in 1868—he was sorry the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) was not then present—in which the necessity for a large reduction of expenditure was advocated with that eloquence which the House knew the right hon. Member for Greenwich could command. Why was his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) sent to the Admiralty? To cut down expenditure, and no doubt he carried out that view. He said that an alteration of the Estimates involved economy. His (Mr. Hunt's) argument the other night was that it did not involve economy, and that his right hon. Friend pursued a false economy. He did not think that the administration of the Navy ought to be conducted on any other principles than those which should be acted on with regard to a private estate. If a tenant for life without impeachment of waste was an unscrupulous man—he did not say that his right hon. Friend was an unscrupulous man—he put all the money he could get out of the estate into his pocket, and loft the remainder man to shift as he could. "When the remainder man came into possession he found that a magnificent revenue had been obtained for several years, but that all the farm buildings on the estate were dilapidated. "Well, that was a policy which he (Mr. Hunt) thought ought not to be pursued either in private life or with regard to public affairs. But that was the policy which had been pursued more or less—for a certain time, at all events—by the late Administration, and that was a policy which he endeavoured to show was not one which could be called a policy of economy. Well, the money saved in that manner did not go into the pocket of his right hon. Friend; but his great object was to show a large surplus, and what he had done to reduce taxation. He (Mr. Hunt) was not insensible to the merits of a reduction of taxation. He thought that every sixpence which could be saved legitimately to the pockets of taxpayers ought to be saved. His right hon. Friend had gone into figures with regard to the expenditure on the Navy in a manner which involved a great fallacy. It was not the first time that his right hon. Friend had made comparisons similar to that which he had made that evening. He had made a comparison not only with regard to naval expenditure but with regard to expenditure generally, and then he had recourse to averages. That system of averages was very fallacious. First of all he took the two years when Mr. Corry administered the Navy, and said, "See what the average was during those two years." But why did not he go further back? It was all very well to take two years in which there had been extraordinary expenditure and contrast them with two other years in which there was a reduction of expenditure. But what he pointed out the other night, and what he must advert to now was that the policy of his right hon. Friend had not been pursued during the administration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London. Now, if his policy was right, then the policy of the last two years had been wrong. He (Mr. Hunt) contended that it was the great expenditure which had taken place before, that enabled the boasted reductions to he made, and their opponents had been living on what the Conservatives had provided for them. He showed the other night that the Naval Estimates had been mounting up of late years. Well, an attempt had been made by his hon. Friend the Member for Beading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) to show that the increase, with certain exceptions, was to be attributed to the rise in the price of different articles. When he (Mr. Hunt) made his statement ten days ago, he said, no doubt allowance was to be made for the rise in the price of certain articles and for the rise in wages, but that did not account for all the increase. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) had read from a printed paper which had been moved for, a statement by one of the officers of the number of men that would be sufficient to keep up the establishment of ships. That statement was made at the desire of his right hon. Friend, and the officer, no doubt, took his cue from the head of the Naval Department. That officer knew that when the late Government came in considerable reductions were to he made. No doubt the estimate of the officer was below that which his right hon. Friend thought was proper; but that did not do away with his (Mr. Hunt's) argument that all the officers in the Department knew very well when the Admiralty meant to cut down the Estimates. But if the number of men that his right hon. Friend thought was sufficient for the Dockyards was right, then the right hon. Member for the City of London had been wrong in increasing that number. His right hon. Friend had been practically answered by the right hon. Member for the City of London. Then, as to stores, often when he was in Opposition they used to say to each other "They are living upon our stores." He ventured to point out the other night that the amount of the Estimates had very nearly got back to that at which his right hon. Friend Mr. Corry had left them. He also mentioned, speaking only from memory, that Mr. Corry intended to propose a reduction of £600,000. And what said his right hon. Friend the Member for Ponte-fract as to that? He said—"Oh! as to that question of £600,000 I found a sketch Estimate at the Admiralty which was made by Mr. Corry after the Government intended to resign." He (Mr. Hunt) hoped his right hon. Friend did not mean to say that Mr. Corry had left it as an illusory Estimate, If his right hon. Friend did mean that, no words that he (Mr. Hunt; could make use of were too severe to apply to such an insinuation. By referring to the report in Hansard of the proceedings in this House on March 8, 1869, he found that he had been under the mark in mentioning £600,000, and that the figure as given by Mr. Corry on that date was £658,000. No one could deny that the reduction would have been carried out if Mr. Corry had remained in office. Indeed, this was distinctly admitted on an occasion subsequent to that to which he had referred. Then his right hon. Friend had alluded to his having said the reduction of the Estimates was a political necessity, and had thought he made a great point when he asked whether the Estimates of 1868 were not political Estimates. The right hon. Gentleman knew very well that when the crisis of 1866 began to tell upon the revenue there was very great difficulty in making the two ends meet; and, therefore, instead of calling the cutting down of the Estimates of 1868 a political necessity it would be more correct to describe it as a financial necessity. The right hon. Gentleman had been a Member of an Administration which came into office just when the tide had begun to turn, and the result had been such as had led some people in the country to think that the increase of revenue had been all owing to the efforts of that Administration. They had found there-venue growing more, and yet had refused to spend on the Navy what it required and what they could afford. In the remarks he had made in introducing the Estimates he had endeavoured to show, and he still maintained, that when the political necessity had passed the late Government began to pay more attention to the state of the Navy. The right hon. Gentleman who had preceded him at the Admiralty (Mr. Goschen) had to his credit be it said, prevailed upon his Cabinet to spend more money on the Navy. After the speech he had made in introducing the Estimates, hon. Members got up in the House, and many more people wrote in the Press, asking—" What does this mean? Are not the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in accord about these matters?" Of course they were in accord. He had himself been a party to the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his right hon. Friend had been a party to his statement as to the Navy. It was the right hon. Member for the City of London who had talked about spending millions of money on the Navy. No words had fallen from him (Mr. Hunt) that pointed to any such expenditure, and, indeed, he had never contemplated such a thing. The matter had been considered when the financial arrangements for the year were made. Perhaps, however, he was in fault. It might be that his own niggardly ideas had misled the House. Finding that the Estimates had risen about £500,000 in 1873–4, and that for this year they were still further increased by £175,000, he confessed he had, with his exceedingly stingy and perhaps narrow views, felt appalled at the bare possibility of having to add anything to this increase. Perhaps it was that state of mind which had induced him to speak somewhat seriously of the difficulty. When a responsible Minister had framed Estimates showing what he thought was required for the state of the Navy, and these Estimates had not passed his Cabinet, it would be a serious thing to come in and propose to increase them, even to the extent that had been mentioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It might be a fault on his part to regard it in that light, but so he did regard it. As to the "scare," it had been caused, not by what he had said, but by what had occurred afterwards. No doubt, when hon. Members came to scan the report of his speech, they saw that there was nothing in it calculated to create very great alarm. He inferred this from the remark of the right hon. Member for Pontefract that "it was not what he said, it was his manner that created a sensation throughout the country," it was hard to tell how his manner could have impressed the country, seeing that the country had not been present to look at him. He was sorry to say, indeed, that it had not impressed many Members of the House, for the anticipation of any pleasures to be derived from his oratory had not prevailed against the attractions which usually led Members elsewhere between the hours of half-past 7 and half-past 9, and only a thin House had remained to hear him speak. If not his manner, what had been the cause of the alarm? In his opinion, there had been no cause whatever. He had not contemplated, and he did not now contemplate, any very large addition to the Estimates as he had found them. They had been told a few years ago by the right hon. Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) that "heroic efforts" were being made by the right hon. Member for Ponte fract and Lord Cardwell to cut down expenditure. Now, he (Mr. Hunt) could assure the House that, for his part, he did not intend to make any heroic efforts to increase the expenditure. He did not think that the circumstances of the times demanded such increase. Europe was in a state of profound peace. At the present moment there was no cloud even as big as a man's hand upon the horizon. He did not think, therefore, that there was any occasion for efforts such as he had referred to. If any emergency should arise when heroic efforts were demanded, and he still filled his present place, he hoped he would rise to the occasion. For the present he was not contemplating a heroic administration of the Navy, but a businesslike one. He had compared the administration of the Navy to the management of a private estate. If as a remainder man he came into possession of of an estate where he had been preceded by a tenant for life, who had taken rather a strong view of his own interest, and found that the property was considerably out of repair, and could not be put right unless a very large sum was expended upon it, he did not think he would propose to do in one year all that had to be done. He would say, "I must set aside a certain sum every year, and got the property right by degrees." That was the way in which he thought the House ought to look at the present matter. He had not stated—as had been imputed to him—that our Navy was a second-class Navy. He had indulged in no epithets at all in regard to it. He had simply stated, as a matter of fact, the condition of our iron-clad fleet. He gave every credit to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) who had preceded him in office, for endeavouring to rectify the mistake that had boon made, and to improve the present state of things; and he believed that he had done so. He was aware of the difficulties the right hon. Gentleman had had to contend with—ho knew the master he had served under, and he knew that if the right hon. Gentleman had had free play, things would not have been found as they had. But he had not described the state of things as disastrously bad; he had only spoken of it as unsatisfactory. He had called attention to the fact that within the last two years the intention of building fighting ships, as regarded amount of tonnage, had not been carried out, and also that the programme which had been laid before the House had not been carried out. The reason assigned by the right hon. Gentleman for this—the difficulty of getting delivery of iron—was not the only one. There had been an inherent vice in the system pursued. Ships had unexpectedly come in for repair, and men had been taken off the ships which were being built in order to repair them. [Mr. GOSCHEN: How many?] He could not give the figures; but the Estimates had made no provision for such contingencies, though it must always be known that they would happen, and that to insure the execution of the programme of ship building a certain number of men must be allowed for them. As to the Navies of other countries, his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) had an advantage over him, for in his own position he should not like to go into such particulars, and even for his right hon. Friend to institute those comparisons was not calculated to increase good feeling between different countries. Granting that the argument was a very apt one and that it ought not to be lost sight of in considering the question departmentally, he shrank from discussing it in the House, though he had facts which, to a certain extent, but not entirely, agreed with the statements of his right hon. Friend. The late First Lord (Mr. Goschen), in his speech two years ago, in introducing the Estimates, answered by anticipation the remarks of his right hon. Friend. He pointed out that it was not sufficient for our Navy to be able to contend with other Navies; that manifold duties in various parts of the world had to be performed by it, and that those duties and its ubiquitous character must be considered in fixing its strength. But there was another consideration wholly disregarded by his right hon. Friend—namely, that we were not in a position to keep up a large standing Army; and therefore, if we desired to hold our proper position amongst the nations of Europe, we must be supreme on the sea. His right hon. Friend, alluding to the reduction in the number of the establishment of unarmoured ships which he deemed necessary in 1869–70, had asked why a further reduction could not be made. Did he think the number of ships and guns at foreign stations had remained unaltered? In the Mediterranean there were 17 ships in 1869–70, and there were now 15; on the North American Coast they had been reduced from 20 to 16; Brazil, the same as now, 5; Pacific, the same as now, 10; at the Cape and West Africa, from 13 to 12; and in the East Indies and China, from 33 to 29; while the Detached Squadron had been reduced from 6 to 5, so that the total force at these stations had been reduced from 104 to 92. A comparison of guns, also, would tell heavily against his right hon. Friend; but as the calibre had considerably changed, and he could not now give the strength of the guns, he would refrain from making it. The strength of a squadron must depend not only on the enemies likely to be encountered, but on the duties to be discharged; and all his information, including letters from commanders on different stations, went to show that if any error existed it was not on the side of excess, commanders having sometimes a difficulty in finding a ship on one being called for. The system of reliefs for this year, though it might just do if all went well, allowed no margin in case of an important ship coming to an untoward end. His hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), admitting the obsolete character of some of the ships, had said they were ships which everyone know would after a few years be obsolete; but had the late Administration provided ships to take the place of these "dummies?" On that point he had been silent.
had said they were discarded long ago; first, when vessels of the Audacious class were built; secondly, when vessels of the Devastation class were built, and that now five vessels were being built.
admitted that five vessels, on which his hon. Friend seemed to rest his defence, were being built to take their places; but with the exception of the Thunderer, which was of the same class as the Devastation, and could be completed in three months, if necessary, but had been delayed for certain experiments, there was not one that would at the present rate of progress be completed till rather late in 1876. Under such circumstances it was not surprising that he was not altogether satisfied with the state of things he found to exist when he went to the Admiralty. The first time he had occasion to make a speech in returning thanks for the Navy, he said he knew the question of the Devastation was one which would wax long and loud, and the result had justified that expression. There were great differences of opinion about the Devastation, and be admitted that those differences even prevailed at the Admiralty. During the Easter Recess he embraced the opportunity of consulting a great number of officers about her, and some said she would go anywhere and do everything, whilst others shook their heads and said they would not like to he in her in a gale. He had, therefore, been justified in saying that without further trial and advice he was not prepared to count her a seagoing vessel in the general sense of the term. After the sad warning there had been, he was not disposed rashly to send her to sea where she would be likely to encounter a severe gale. He wished to proceed tentatively, recognizing her enormous strength, for the purpose of defence. No one had argued to-night that she was capable of being a seagoing cruiser in the ordinary sense. If she proved capable of cruising in the Mediterranean or the Channel, and performing duties there, he should be glad; but there appeared to be a divergence of opinion between his right hon. Friend and the late Secretary of the Admiralty, the latter not styling her a cruiser in the sense in which the former did. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: I never said that. I said she was not a cruiser.] The hon. Gentleman had said he could not quite accept the account given by his right hon. Friend. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: I never said so.] If he was wrong he apologized, but that was his impression. Without further trial—which he hoped might increase his confidence in her—he could not reckon her a sea-going ship. As to what he was going to do, the Committee would be prepared to hear that he proposed shortly to submit some Supplementary Estimates, and also that they would not go to a greater extent than that alluded to by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Samuda), in whose practical and sensible speech he very much agreed. The hon. Member had indicated the limits within which additional expenditure might be incurred, and his own ideas had never gone much beyond what he had mentioned. It was not a case for launching out into any very great expenditure. The policy which should be pursued was that of bringing forward ships so as to fill up vacancies which must be expected through ships falling into decay or becoming obsolete; because there must always be a certain proportion of the fleet under repair, and a certain proportion getting worn out and ceasing to be effective. He did not propose that night to take Votes 6 and 10, but to defer their consideration until he had laid on the Table the Supplementary Estimates, which he should feel it his duty to present to the Committee. The Committee would then have his complete scheme, his amended programme, before them, and would be able to deal with that whole matter; and he hoped they would allow him to reserve until that occasion the particular proposals which he hoped to submit to them. He should be glad to be permitted to take those Votes now about which there was no difference of opinion.
said, he hoped that as the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hunt) had so pointedly challenged him to explain certain statements he had made the other night, he would be allowed briefly to state what he thought was the present situation. He believed he could give a clear idea of what had really caused that "scare" for which both he and the right hon. Gentleman opposite were at present held responsible in the opinion of some persons. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had spoken of a "fleet on paper," and of "dummy" ships; and it was the use of that significant language—perhaps never heard before from a First Lord of the Admiralty—which had so challenged the opinion of the House and the country. And the right hon. and gallant Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay) had interpreted the speech of the First Lord as representing that the fleet was in a disgraceful position. [Mr. Hunt denied that he had said it was disgraceful.] No; but he had used words which led others to declare that it followed from his language—that the state of the fleet was disgraceful. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that he had shown what he was about to state to the House to his naval advisers; but were the able naval advisers of the right hon. Gentleman parties to the use of such terms as "dummy" ships and a "fleet on paper?" He was confident they were not. He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had had an opportunity of retracting those phrases, and he hoped that evening had not been ill spent in showing that the fleet of this country—without looking to all the details of whether a ship was for a few months under repair or not—was composed of the most powerful and the most numerous vessels in the world. And then the right hon. Gentleman spoke of ships being inefficient if they were simply under repair for a time, and that again was misleading. [Mr. Hunt observed that his remarks referred to ships as inefficient for the service of the year.] He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman now admitted that the fleet was in a satisfactory condition except in a certain portion of it which was, as it would always be under repair. [Mr. HUNT: No.] The right hon. Gentleman said "No." What did he then mean? He had spoken about dummies, inefficient ships, and a fleet on paper, and vet he proposed an addition of only £200,000 to remedy all tins. If things had been so bad as they were represented, he should have thought the right hon. Gentleman, having a large surplus upon which to draw, would, to use his own simile, have taken care to put the estate in order before the money passed out of his hands, for the financial resources of the country would not always enable him to propose Supplementary Estimates whenever he thought proper. Again, as to the Navy having been starved, he denied that at any time that had been the fact. He asserted that the late Government, or that House, which had also been responsible with them for the past Estimates—having debated them every Session—would never have been satisfied to starve the Navy. He repudiated the suggestion that he had asked and been refused the money necessary to maintain the fleet in a proper state. [Mr. HUNT dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman might not have said that in so many words; but surely it was implied by his remark that he knew the master under whom the late First Lord of the Admiralty served. Now, he himself knew the master under whom it had been his pride and pleasure to serve, and that master would never have permitted him—even if he had desired it—to allow the fleet to fall below the requisite standard of efficiency. He must also repudiate the attempt to distinguish between his own administration at the Admiralty, and that of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers); and if time had permitted, he would have shown that the insinuation was as groundless as many other things which had been stated. The increase in the Store Vote was due to the fact—although hon. Members opposite appeared determined to ignore it—of a rise to the extent of 25 per cent in iron, wages, machinery, contract ships, and coals, making in the Estimates a difference of £500,000; and therefore it was not fair, and hardly ingenuous, to represent that there had been a change of policy under the late Board of Admiralty. It fell to his lot to have to repair the boilers, which were not out of repair when his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) was in office, and an increase in the number of dockyard men last year was due to the boilers having lasted a shorter time than was anticipated. The right hon. Gentleman made two charges against the late Government—first, that their Admiralty programme was not on a sufficiently large scale; and, secondly, that, such as it was, it had not been carried out. He showed, in reply, that several exceptional causes had prevented all the work from being carried out, and had caused an increase in the Estimates which he had himself proposed. He denied most emphatically that he ever admitted the Navy was in an inefficient state. The Committee had heard to-night that the late Government had saved £8,000,000 in their Navy Estimates in five years, and now the first step taken by a Conservative Government was to propose an increase of £200,000. The mention of dummy ships reminded him of a recent cartoon, in which the present First Lord of the Admiralty and himself figured. It re-represented, as the result of the late Navy Debate, that he and the right hon. Gentleman were brought to the bar of public opinion, while Mr. Bull exclaimed—"Ten millions spent on the Navy, and not a ship to my back." That cartoon embodied the feeling created out-of-doors by the right hon. Gentleman's statement about a paper fleet. [Cheers.] When hon. Members below the gangway cheered, it seemed that they adhered to that idea; but if we had not the powerful fleet that was represented, let them propose to vote more than the £200,000 which was asked for. It was almost a public scandal that the right hon. Gentleman should be holding this strong and violent language about a paper fleet, and take no steps to provide a remedy. The best vindication of the late Government was that the right hon. Gentleman opposite did not propose to amend the Estimates. It had been said that the late Government, during their administration, had denuded the Dockyards of stores. The right hon. Gentleman would not make that assertion, and at all events he understood that no Supplementary Estimates were necessary for that purpose. [Mr. HUNT shook his head.] He accepted that gesture as a contradiction of the untrue charges which had been brought against the late Government. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would withstand the alarmists who were pressing an increase of expenditure upon him. He also hoped that these charges and countercharges as to the past were now at an end and that in future both sides of the House might work together for the good of the service, and for the efficiency as well as for the reputation of the fleet.
said, he believed he could explain to right hon. Gentlemen opposite the meaning of the phrases "a paper fleet" and "dummy ships." Professional men looked upon ships that could not be sent to sea as paper or dummy ships. The hon. Member for Heading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) told the House that out of 27 sea-going ships only 14 were fit to go to sea. Ships that could not work their boilers up to their proper power were not fit to go to sea. The mistake had arisen as to what professional men had called dummy ships, but which right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition bench called efficient ships of war. If the Devastation were fit to go all over the world, as the late Controller of the Navy described, how was it she had been kept most of her time in harbour, and never allowed to go out of sight of land? She had never seen a gale of wind, and even in favourable weather was never allowed to go anywhere without another ship in her company.
said, he differed from the hon. and gallant Admiral as to what was "favourable weather."
said, he called it "favourable weather" when it was not blowing a gale of wind. She never went to America; she never went even as far as the Mediterranean. If he were responsible for her, he should not be satisfied with rising in the House, and saying she was a safe ship; and he would recommend right hon. Gentlemen opposite to go on board the Devastation, and go to sea in her. They would thus prove that they were really sincere in asserting that she was in all respects a sea-going vessel.
said, he thought the present condition of the Navy was anything but satisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) had boasted that if he had left the Navy inefficient, his Government had also left £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 to set it to rights. But had the right hon. Gentleman ever endeavoured to apply any portion of that surplus to the improvement of the Navy? He disputed the accuracy of the figures given to the Committee by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) as to the force of the Navies of France and Russia. The Committee should not take him as entertaining any alarmist view; but it was right to know the fact that our naval force was inferior to the combined Navies of Prance and Russia, to which it was asserted by the right hon. Gentleman to be superior. It was inferior not only as regarded sea-going and coast defence iron-clads, but also as regarded gunboats and the number of seamen, Marines, and Reserves, while the French fleet alone was more heavily armed than was the Navy of England. While he utterly deprecated such a thing as a "scare" as unworthy the country and utterly uncalled for, they ought to look facts in the face, and not, at all events, to miscalculate their true position.
said, with regard to the much-abused Devastation, they should remember that she carried the most powerful guns of any vessel afloat. The reason she had been under a cloud lately was because some naval officers were unable to appreciate the instrument which the late Government had put into their hands. After experience of her qualities the strongest objections entertained against her sea-going qualities by naval officers vanished, and her captain, Commodore Hewett, left her, placing on record his confidence in her superiority. When the Devastation found bad weather, the seas might come over her with impunity, for she had no bulwarks to lock them in. The Secretary to the Admiralty had told the Committee that the British Navy was able to fight the combined Navies of all other Powers. [Mr. EGERTON: What I said was, "quite willing to fight."] Now, all the other Powers had spent £34,000,000 on their iron-clads, while the expenditure of England was only £12,000,000. If, under those circumstances, England was capable of doing so much, was it not time to give up complaining that the £12,000,000 had been unwisely expended?
said, he had no wish to detain the Committee, but he had a practical suggestion to make to his right hon. Friend (Mr. Hunt). He was the judge, with his Colleagues., of the number of ships which it was necessary to maintain, and he had no wish to relieve him of the responsibility. But there could be no doubt, after this debate, that a large fleet was shown on paper which had no existence in fact. If hon. Members would go into the Library and would refer to The Navy List published by authority, they would find the whole of the 55 iron-clads which had been under discussion, there printed as efficient ships. By the admission of the late Administration themselves, very many of those ships were not fit for service, or worth repair. Let his right hon. Friend exercise his authority and remove from the active list all those ships which were either obsolete or unfit for repairs. He would then have taken a real step to get rid of his fleet upon paper.
Vote agreed to.
(2.) £1,064,264, Victuals and Clothing for Seamen and Marines.
(3.) £178,066, Admiralty Office.
(4.) £163,311, Coast Guard Service &c.
(5.) £111,170, Scientific Departments.
said, on former occasions he had opposed the removal of the Royal Naval College from Portsmouth to Greenwich. He still regretted, that the Royal Hospital there was no longer to be approrpriated as its Foundress intended—to aged and infirm seamen; he also still held to the opinion that if sufficient buildings could have been found at Portsmouth, it would have been better to have had the tuition of naval officers given there, with all its naval activity and gunnery instruction so conveniently present. But it was due to the right hon. Gentleman to say that he and Lis Colleagues deserved great credit for the magnificent Naval School they had created at Greenwich. To them and to Admiral Sir Cooper Key, whom they had selected for its head, the country and the profession owed a debt of gratitude; and he willingly bore testimony which he was able to do from personal inspection, of the thoroughness of the arrangements which had been made for the scientific teaching of the officers of the Navy.
Vote agreed to.
(6.) £72,885, Victualling Yards.
(7.) £63,701, Medical Establishments.
(8.) £18,723, Marine Divisions.
said, he must call his right hon. Friend's attention to the fact that he had given him no reply to the appeal which he made to him on behalf of the Royal Marines. He should not recapitulate the arguments he used to persuade him to restore the rank of major to the gallant corps, but he trusted he would say something to allay the feeling of dissatisfaction which existed in consequence of that boon being withheld from the Marines, after being granted to the Loyal Engineers and Royal Artillery.
said, he would consider it.
Vote agreed to.
(9.) £682,061, Now Works, Buildings, &c.
(10.) £70,520, Medical Stores, &c.
(11.) £15,605, Martial Law.
(12.) £113,510, Miscellaneous Services.
(13.) £870,166, Half-Pay, &c.
(14.) £657,090, Military Pensions and Allowances.
(15.) £288,670, Civil Pensions and allowances.
said, he begged to call attention to the fact that this Vote was largely increased. When the scheme of retirement was proposed—which was so generally disapproved of—by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefraet (Mr. Childers) in 1870, he stated that in the third year, or 1873, the charge would begin to diminish. The result, however was, that in 1872–73 the expenditure was £820,571, being an increase of £120,000 from 1868–69, and that last year it amounted to £862,462, and this year would reach £870,166. It might be supposed that there was a corresponding saving on the half pay and retired pay, but that was not so. The decrease on the half pay was £50,665, and on the reserved pay £2,787, being a total decrease of £53,452: whereas, the increase of the retired pay was £67,842, or an absolute increase of £14,390. We were the only country in the world which paid persons in this manner, for abstaining from offering themselves for employment. It gave no promotion to the active list, and paid a retired officer in every parish in England for being a centre of discontent to all who knew him.
Vote agreed to.
Resolutions to be reported.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £175,600, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense for the Freight of Ships, for the Victualling and for the Conveyance of Troops, on account of the Army Department, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1875."
Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next;
Committee also report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
East India Annuity Funds Bill
( Mr. Raikes, Lord George Hamilton, Mr. William Henry Smith.)
Bill 30 Consideration
Bill, as amended, considered.
LORD GEORGE HAMILTON moved the addition of the following new clause (Saving of subscribers' claims):—
"Provided, That nothing in this Act contained shall prejudice any claim which may be made by any subscriber to the said Civil Service Annuity Funds, or by the representatives of any such subscriber, upon the funds so transferred; and in case any question shall arise between any such subscriber or the representatives of any deceased subscriber on the one hand, and the Secretary of State for India in Council on the other, as to any liability or alleged liability of the said funds, such question shall be determined by the Court of Appeal appointed by the Judicature Act, 1873, in such manner as may be provided by any general orders, or as the said Court may, on special application, think fit to prescribe."
New Clause ( Lord George Hamilton) brought up, and read the first time.
advocated the claims of the subscribers to the Indian Annuity Fund, and wished that the present Government had taken a more liberal view of their right to a just consideration. He hoped the House would reject the clause proposed by the noble Lord, and adopt that which he (Mr. Beckett-Denison) intended to move.
said, he hoped the House would adopt the clause moved by the Government, and reject that of the hon. Member. The parties whose claim the hon. Member advocated had no claims whatever, and such was the opinion of Lord Romilly, Lord Cairns, the late Lord Colonsay, and other noble Lords.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."
The House divided:—Ayes 121; Noes 39: Majority 82.
said, after the result of the division he would not move his clause; but he would move to add to the end of the Bill the words "anything in the Statute of Limitations to the contrary notwithstanding."
Motion agreed to.
Clause, as amended, added.
Bill to be read the third time Tomorrow.
said, he need hardly inform the House that this Motion was suggested by what took place two days since in the issuing of a New Writ for Wakefield. Hon. Members had been a good deal surprised on reading the Votes on Tuesday morning, to find that immediately on the Judges' Report being laid before the House, the Government "Whip had moved for the Issue of a New Writ, and by this dexterous celerity the House had been precluded from commenting on the Report, and taking any action in regard to the flagrant bribery of which the Judge reported. This led to his (Mr. Anderson's) asking a Question in the House as to whether it was in Order to move for a New Writ without giving the House some time for consideration; and the Speaker's reply having been that the proceeding was not out of Order under present Rules, but that under former Rules Notice was required; he had examined the old Rules, and he found that there was a Resolution of the House on the 5th April, 1848, that where an Election Committee declared a seat void for bribery and treating, the Now Writ should not he moved for without Notice. And again, in 1853–4, and up to 1860, seven days' Notice was required in such cases. In 1866, only two days' Notice was required, and it would appear that this very wholesome Rule dropped out of sight when the Parliamentary Elections Act of 1868 took the jurisdiction in Petitions away from Committees of the House and gave it to Election Petition Judges. He thought, however, that it was high time this Rule should be restored, for the want of it had caused the dealing with the Wakefield election to be little better than a farce; for what had been done under it? We punished the innocent and rewarded the guilty. The Judge reported that the candidate was not guilty, and yet he lost his seat. The givers of the bribes had not been found out, and so escaped punishment; and though the Judge named twelve men who had received bribes and who might be punished, yet every one knew that where twelve were found out, there were probably ten times as many guilty, and we rewarded these people by instantly giving them a fresh opportunity of getting another bribe, as would no doubt happen next Monday. It might be that there was not sufficient ground for disfranchising Wakefield altogether but he was of opinion that a borough, in which so much corruption had been proved to exist, should at least be left for a year or two without a Member, that it might learn the expediency of becoming more virtuous in the future, and he would have moved for some such censure if he had not been precluded by the undue haste with which the Writ had been moved. If the House adopted his present Motion, it would prevent the occurrence of such a surprise again,—he moved it as a Sessional Resolution, but he hoped next year to see it adopted as a Standing Order, so that it could not again drop out of sight, as a Sessional Resolution was apt to do."That, where any Election has been declared void, under the Parliamentary Elections Act of 1868, and the Judge has reported that any person has been guilty of bribery and corrupt practices, no Motion for the issuing of a new Writ shall be made without two days' previous notice being given in the Votes,"
Motion agreed to.
Ordered, That, where any Election has been declared void, under the Parliamentary Elections Act of 1868, and the Judge has reported that any person has been guilty of bribery and corrupt practices, no Motion for the issuing of a new Writ shall be made without two days' previous notice being given in the Votes.—(MR. Anderson.)
East India Finance—Committee
LORD GEORGE HAMILTON moved that the Committee do consist of 19 Members.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Select Committee on East India Finance do consist of Nineteen Members."—( Lord George Hamilton.)
objected to the constitution of the Committee, and complained that there was not a single Irishman upon it. How was it, he wished to know, that Irishmen were excluded from this Committee? There were English and Scotch Members on the Committee, and he was glad of it. He moved that the Committee be constituted of 21 Members, and two Irish Members be appointed.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "Nineteen," in order to insert the words "Twenty-one,"—( Mr. Downing,)
assured the hon. Gentleman that there was no disinclination on the part of the Government to appoint Irish Members on the Committee, and they would consent to accept one Irish Member named by the hon. Member for Cork, and nominate another Irish Member on their part.
protested against the system invariably carried out by both political parties in that House, Whig and Tory, in the appointment of Select Committees.
Question, "That the word 'Nineteen' stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
Question, "That the words 'Twenty-one' be inserted, instead thereof," put and agreed to.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Ordered, That the Select Committee on East India Finance do consist of Twenty-one Members:—Mr. FAWCETT, Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNER-MAN, Mr. DALRYMPLE, Mr. BALFOUR, and Mr. DUNBAR added to the Committee.
House adjourned at a quarter after Two o'clock.