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Supply—Navy Estimates

Volume 229: debated on Monday 8 May 1876

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SUPPLY— considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

£210,230, Coast Guard Services, &c.

said, he would like to have some information as to the control of that part of the Naval Reserve which consisted of the men in the Coastguard. Formerly the Coastguard was part of the Customs; but, on the Report of a Commission, the control of the Force was transferred to the Admiralty, but still the administration was a separate department outside the Admiralty itself. The result was, that as a Naval Force great defects were allowed to grow up in it. When he had the honour of being First Lord, all that was changed. The administration of the Coastguard, as part of the Fleet was brought directly under the control of the Admiralty, and the Force itself cleared of inefficient men, and it was arranged that they should be sent to sea one-half at a time under the command of an admiral or commodore, the result being that the Force became a far more effective one. What he now wished to know was why the present Admiralty had upset that arrangement, which had been made with the concurrence of the most experienced officers, and the old arrangement resorted to?

said, he did not wonder that the right hon. Gentleman should criticize the change made by the present Board of Admiralty; but, for his own part, he did not see any reason for the arrangement which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman, but that of saving the salary of the Comptroller of the Coastguard. One reason for removing the Naval Reserve outside the Admiralty was, that if he had not done so it would have been necessary to appoint another Naval Lord to the Board; but the chief reason was, that there was a slackness about the Naval Reserve; that there was no one to stimulate them; that there was a want of unity of management; and that there was no one person to look after them to see that they were doing their duty.

asked what course the right hon. Gentleman proposed to take this year with regard to sending the reserved ships to sea, whether they were to be sent to cruise generally, and under whose command they were to be placed?

said, he thought it desirable that these ships, which were sent out for a short time with inexperienced crews, should be joined to a practised squadron, and he had therefore given orders that they should join the Channel Squadron by two or three at a time. In the course of this month two ships would join the Channel Squadron, and when they had been forty days out would be replaced by two others.

wished to ask whether the Channel Squadron would continue to be commanded by the same admiral? He would also call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to his use of the expression "inexperienced crews." No doubt he meant that they were inexperienced in the sense of not acting together in ships; but they were not inexperienced as sailors, for they were, in fact, composed of the finest material in the Service. It was important that the public should know that these valuable vessels were not sent out undermanned or with inexperienced crews.

was obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for calling his attention to the matter. What he meant was, that the seamen were not practised together on board their own ships, not that they were inexperienced sailors. He intended that the reserved ships thus sent out for practice should be entirely under the command of the admiral commanding the Channel Squadron. On the other point he might say that there was no intention to appoint another admiral. He thought that sending the Squadron round the coasts from time to time was a policy wisely favoured by successive Governments.

thought it might be gathered that the right hon. Gentleman intended this year that the men of the Squadron should have a considerable amount of exercise at sea as distinguished from harbour life.

pointed out that the harbour duties and exercises were of themselves exceedingly important and expressed a hope that the men would not be kept too much at sea.

asked what were the proposals of the Government with regard to the Coast Guard Naval Reserve? If the right hon. Gentleman wanted to keep the boys to a later age, he must hold out greater advantage than he now did.

said, that if a boy passed the standard required by the Admiralty, he ought to be as proficient as a boy who had passed two years in a training ship; and he did not think £25 was too large a sum to pay for boys from training ships.

Vote agreed to.

Resolution to be reported.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That a sum, not exceeding £109,194, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expenses of the several Scientific Departments of the Navy, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1877."

Whereupon Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—( Mr. Rylands,)—put, and agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow;

Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Wednesday.