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Commons Chamber

Volume 47: debated on Friday 5 March 1897

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House Of Commons

Friday, 5th March 1897.

Private Business

Dundee Corporation Bill

had given notice of the following motion:—

"That it be an Instruction to the Committee to leave out clauses 15, 16, and 17"
He said that before the Order was taken he would like to ask a question on the subject. The county of Forfar and burgh of Broughty Ferry strongly objected to some clauses that were contained in this Measure. They objected to the powers which it was proposed to confer by certain clauses of the Bill, especially clauses Hi, 16, and 17. He understood that the Scotch Office was prepared to undertake to oppose those clauses in Committee, and also to send a representative to the Committee for that purpose. If an assurance to that effect could be given now, he would not move the Motion that stood in his name.

said he might state on behalf of the county of Fife, which entertained an equally strong objection to the clauses to which his hon. Friend had referred, that they also should be very glad if the Lord Advocate could give them some assurance that would dispense with the necessity of moving tins Instruction, and would insure that, when the case came before the Committee, the Scotch Office would look after the various interests concerned.


said that the matter had been under the consideration of the Scotch Office, and they were aware that those clauses were objected to, not only by the counties represented by the hon. Members, but also by other counties, and the Scotch Office had determined to oppose the clauses in Committee because they went beyond the general law. Therefore he was quite willing to give the undertaking that they would oppose the clauses in Committee, and they would send a representative there.

said that, as representing the promoters of the Bill, perhaps he might be allowed to say that he hoped the Lord Advocate would give them an equal assurance that he would not only oppose the clauses in the interests of the counties, but that he would have a fair regard to the interests of the towns concerned as well, and also that the action that he proposed to take in Committee was distinctly connected with the proposals made by the Government themselves in the Public Health Bill. When those clauses came up for discussion in the House, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be open to the arguments that would be placed before him, and that he would grant a modification of the clauses in the direction they proposed in the Bill under discussion.


said, as there was no Motion before the House, it would be irregular to continue the discussion, but, with reference to what the hon. and learned Gentleman had just said, whatever might be the view of the Government on the matter, he apprehended it would be quite open to those who represented the County Council of Fife to take any steps they might think fit to oppose these clauses before the Committee.


said certainly the chief reason why the Government objected to the clauses was that they seemed to go further than the clauses in the Public Health Bill of this year, which, as hon. Members would remember, really represented a well-considered clause, which was inserted in the House of Lords, when the two sides were represented and the matter fully argued.


Cycle Posts (Rural Districts)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is in a position to state what steps have been taken since the last Session of Parliament to provide bicycles for the use of letter carriers and telegraph messengers in the United Kingdom, and especially in the country and suburban districts; what price has been paid; and to whom and in what circumstances or cases will an officer of the Department be supplied with a bicycle, and upon what terms as to the care or safe custody of the machine?

For many years it, has been the practice to establish cycle posts in rural districts where the conditions are suitable, but no special advance in this direction has been made since the last Session of Parliament. It must be recollected that only those rural posts are adapted for cycles where the roads are tolerably flat and in good order, and where the postman has not to cross fields and follow bye-roads. In those cases, where cycles are used by postmen in the service of the Department, the Department does not itself provide the cycles, but grants an allowance of four shillings a week in each case, the postman making his own arrangements as to purchase and maintenance. As regards telegraph messengers, arrangements have been made since last Session to supply bicycles—which will remain the property of the Department—to 22 provincial towns as an experiment. At the same time weekly allowances will be given to telegraph messengers in a corresponding number of provincial towns to use bicycles, of which they themselves will become the possessors and for the care of which they will be responsible. The result of this concurrent trial of the two systems will enable the Department to decide which will be preferable as a permanent arrangement. In the suburban districts of London sonic bicycles, the property of the Department, are about to be used experimentally with the same object. It would not be expedient to state the price paid for the bicycles. The Postmaster General has enjoined upon postmasters and sub-postmasters generally the desirability of arranging for the employment of persons mounted on cycles in the delivery of telegrams wherever it is practicable, especially for distances exceeding three miles. For such distances the charge for delivery by cycle will be at the rate of 4d. per mile, as compared with the charge of 1s. per mile by man and horse.

Mercantile Marine Fund

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the Departmental Committee on the Mercantile Marine Fund has reported that the receipts from light dues exceed the expenditure for lighting our coasts by an average sum for the last 12 years exceeding £56,000; and, whether the whole question of the provision for the lighting of our coasts can now be referred to a Select Committee of this House, so that a final and complete settlement can be arrived at on this vexed question?

Yes, Sir; but my hon. Friend is aware that the Legislature has placed upon the Mercantile Marine Fund charges other than those directly connected with lighting. Having regard to the recent investigation of the question by the Departmental Committee, I see no reason for asking the House to appoint a Select Committee to further inquire into the matter.

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the Departmental Committee distinctly reported that they refrained from dealing with the whole question of light dues because it was outside the terms of their reference?

I do not think they quite said that. What they said was that the question whether the cost of lighting the coast should be contributed by the Treasury and the shipowners entirely relieved of it, did not come within their province. I am not prepared to recommend that a Committee should be appointed to inquire into the matter.

Income Tax (British Colonies)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether in continuation of the request made in the last Session, a Return could now be presented to Parliament giving details as to the levying of Income Tax in British Colonies, including name of Colony, statute authority, rate of tax, and whether levied by domicile of person or locality of property so taxed?

A return containing details as to the levying of Income Tax in British Colonies was given privately to the hon. Member last Session. If it were now proposed to lay it on the Table I should have to refer to each of the Colonies for verification, and it could not possibly be laid this Session. Under the circumstances, unless there is some general demand for this information, I think it would hardly be worth while to take the steps necessary before presentation.

Telephone Service

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether his attention has been called to the inefficient service of the Telephone Company in London and Westminister, and of its inability to supply persons with telephones; and whether he will take immediate steps to place the telephone service of London, which is now almost essential to modern business requirements, on a satisfactory basis?

The attention of the Postmaster General has not recently been called to any inefficiency in the telephone service in London and Westminster, and he has no knowledge of the inability of the Telephone Company to supply persons with telephones. He understands that the Company are making every effort to place the service on a satisfactory basis, and that the work of reconstructing the system on the metallic circuit principle is now nearly completed. The Company state that they hope to be able to make arrangements for largely putting the lines underground, and that they will then be enabled to effect still further improvements.

gave notice that on the Post Office Estimates he should draw attention to the unsatisfactory condition of the telephone service.

Grangegorman Prison

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1) whether he is aware that in February 1896, less than a month before the Order of the Board curtailing fuel issue in Grangegorman Prison, the superintendent of that prison fined a number of the female warders for having ashes under the grates in their room and required them to clear them away, although' two servants are paid out of the public money to do this and other work; (2) whether in March 1896 the superintendent denied the issue of fuel to some officers and sanctioned the issue of fuel to other officers, who like the former class had access to the general sitting or mess room, and whether a remonstrance caused this inequality to be remedied; (3) and, whether, the officer designated superin- tendent being a female, it is in accordance with the law that she should determine complaints against the staff, which is composed of males and females?

The facts are generally as stated in the first paragraph. The two servants were otherwise engaged on the occasion. The superintendent reports that she is not aware of any remonstrance having been made as alleged at the period referred to, or of any inequality in the treatment of the officers, but that in the exercise of her discretion, she sanctioned the issue of fuel to three assistant matrons whose quarters are situated at the rear of the prison and at a long distance from the mess room. I am not aware that the superintendent is legally incompetent to exercise the disciplinary authority delegated to her by the Board as regards prison officers serving under her orders.

Science And Art Department(Inquiries)


I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education how many Parliamentary and Departmental Committees have inquired into matters connected with the Museums and Art and Science Schools of the Science and Art Department since 1st March 1877.

There have been one Parliamentary and forty-six Departmental Committees.

Fair Rent Application(County Monaghan)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that in October last a number of tenants on the estate of R. C. Leslie, Ballybay, county Monaghan, made application to the Irish Land Commissioners to have fair rents fixed on their holdings; whether he can state the cause of the delay in having fair rents fixed, and whether the Snb-Commissioners who will try these cases will sit in Ballybay to suit the convenience of all concerned; whether he is aware that flax is largely grown in this district, and that this crop has been almost a total failure for some years past; and whether he will send sub-Commissioners to try these cases who know about flax growing?

Some of the cases from the estate referred to were heard at Ballybay on the 12th and 13th ult. The Assistant Commissioners were Mr. Edge, Q.C., and Messrs Patterson and Mowbray. The decisions have not yet been communicated to the Land Commission. The remaining cases, 15 in number, will be listed in due course, and will be heard at such place, and by such Assistant Commissioners, as the Land Commission in the exercise of their discretion, and having regard to the circumstances, think proper. I must repeat that I have no control over the arrangements made or proposed by the Land Commission.

Land Law (Ireland) Act 1896(Rules)

I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether the rules provided for in Sub-section (2) of Section 25 of the Land Law (Ireland) Act 1896, have yet been made by the Treasury; and if they have been made, where they are to be seen?

The Land Commission are still in communication with the Treasury on the subject of the Rules proposed to be issued under Section 25, Sub-section (2) of the Act of last year. As soon as a settlement is arrived at in the matter there will be no delay in issuing these Rules.

Land Commission (Rules)

I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether the new rules of the Land Commission have been yet laid upon the Table?

Two sets of rules, dated respectively the 2nd of September, 1896, and the 21st of November, 1896, have been made provisionally by the Land Commission under the second section of the Rules Publication Act of 1893. These have not been laid upon the Table of the House, and it is more than doubtful whether it is necessary that they should be. One set of final rules, dated the 2nd of January 1897, which are little more than a consolidation of previously existing rules, have been made by the Land Commission. These final rules should have been laid on the Table of the House within three weeks from the commencement of the Session, but, owing to the unfortunate illness of the officer of the Land Commission whose duty it was to see to these matters, this in the present press of business was omitted to be done. As soon as my attention was called to the omission I took immediate steps to have it remedied, and accordingly all these rules have been laid upon the Table of the House.

Loan Fund Acts (Ireland)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1) whether he is aware that a few years ago an official of the Strabane (county Tyrone) Loan Fund, working under the Charitable Act, 6 and 7 Vict., c. 91, was convicted of embezzling the funds of the Society, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment; that more recently there have been defalcations in the funds of this Society; and that the Society, including depositors and debenture holders, have lost considerably through these defalcations; (2) whether the Government or the Loan Fund Board will recoup the Society for its losses; and (3) what steps it is proposed to take to prevent similar occurrences in future?

I am informed that the facts are substantially as stated in the first part of the Question, except that the amount ascertained to have been recently misappropriated has been repaid to the Society by one of the sureties of the defaulting official. The Loan Fund Board have, so far as I am aware, no power to recoup any Loan Society for losses arising from dishonesty or from any other cause, and I have already stated that the Government cannot accept responsibility in the matter. As regards the third paragraph of the Question, it would be impossible to give a definite answer pending further consideration of the Report of the Committee of Inquiry. Where, however, Societies of this kind are locally managed, the local managers must primarily be held responsible. Even the most careful supervision of a Central Board could not effectively secure a Society from defalcations by its officials.

Delivery Of Letters

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether there is any rule of the Post Office which enables a postmaster to direct that letters bearing any business or professional description shall not be delivered by the early deliveries before places of business are open at the private address of the person for whom they are obviously intended, even when such address is within the same postal delivery, but shall be detained until the next delivery after such places of business are opened; and whether, if such rule exists, he will take steps so to amend it as to prevent the grave inconvenience caused by it in places where there are few deliveries of letters?

There is no rule which precludes postmasters from delivering letters bearing a business or professional description at the private address of the person for whom they are obviously intended. If such letters, besides bearing a business description, are actually addressed to a place of business, it is the postmaster's duty to deliver them there in accordance with the general rule which requires that all letters should be delivered at the place of their address; but even in such cases arrangements can be made for a special delivery at the addressee's private residence on payment of an annual fee of one guinea.

Army Equipment

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether a certain Horse Battery, R. H. A., in the First Army Corps, is still without the new light equipment, and has only four guns, and is without any ammunition wagons; whether the Field Artillery is now between 700 and 800 men short; and, how it is proposed to make good this deficiency?


Every battery of Horse Artillery in the First Army Corps is fully equipped in every respect. The Field Artillery is necessarily under establishment (though not so largely as my hon. Friend suggests), having just dispatched its drafts to India to replace men coming home for discharge to reserve, etc. The deficiency will be met by recruiting as usual.


Will the right hon. Gentleman explain what he means by being fully equipped? Have they got the new guns?


I think the whole of the First Army Corps have, but there are some batteries that have not been delivered by the trade. Those are the only ones which have not got the new guns.

said the right hon. Gentleman had not answered the first part of the Question as to the ammunition wagons.




If the right hon. Gentleman finds out he is mistaken in that statement will he correct it?


Steamship "Angloman"(Fog Signals)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) if his attention has been called to the finding of the Court of Inquiry into the loss during a fog of the Angloman steamer on the Skerries, exonerating the master and officers from all blame for the loss on the ground that the fog signal that ought to have been sounded was not heard by them, although the person in charge declared he had given the usual signals; and (2) will he cause an inquiry to be made into the arrangements for using the fog signal, and its sufficiency in protecting vessels from approaching a dangerous point, round which the vessels bound for the Mersey must pass?

I have not seen the report of the Court of Inquiry, which I am told is in the printer's hands; but the Board of Trade are in communication with the Trinity House and the Northern Lights Commissioners with regard to the matter raised in the second paragraph of the hon. Member's Question.

Tubular Boilers(H M S "Powerful")

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty what was the total consumption of coal during the thirty hours' trial of the Powerful, how many boilers were used, and what was the average indicated horse-power and speed maintained during the trial; and what number of vessels, other than torpedo boats and destroyers, have been fitted or are being fitted with tubular water boilers, with the aggregate indicated power of their engines, and if any and which of them have yet been tried on an oversea voyage, and to what place?

The number of boilers in use on the thirty hours' trial of the Powerful was 48, the whole number, the total coal consumption 453 17–20 tons, the average indicated horse-power 18,459, and the average speed 20–95 knots per hour. There are 39 vessels in the Navy, other than torpedo boats, destroyers, and small craft, fitted or being fitted with water-tube boilers. The aggregate horsepower of these vessels is 421,800. Of these, the Speedy and Sharpshooter have been employed on service with the Channel Squadron, the Speedy since February 20, 1894, and the Sharpshooter from September 15, 1894, to May 6, 1895. I may mention that the French man-of-war Alger recently returned from China after a three years' commission, and we have been informed that there were no defects in her boilers, which were of the Belleville type, and that they worked satisfactorily during the whole commission.

Freemasons (Ireland)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if a register is kept of the members of the Masonic Society in Ireland, in compliance with the Act of Parliament, 39 George III., c. 79; and if said list for the different counties is sent annually to the Clerk of the Peace for each county; if so, is it open for inspection?

No register is kept of the members of the Masonic Society in Ireland, though the Act of Parliament referred to has not been repealed. It has fallen into disuse and become obsolete, like the Catholic Emancipation Act, which prohibits the assumption by Roman Catholic clergymen in Ireland of ecclesiastical titles, and constitutes as a misdemeanour the coming into the realm of members of religious and monastic orders in Ireland.

Distress (Claremorris, Co Mayo)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he has received a memorial and resolution from the Board of Guardians of the Claremorris, County Mayo, Poor Law Union, drawing his attention to the need of aid from the Congested Districts Board within the scheduled portions of that Union; and whether he can see his way to recommend to the Congested Districts Board a compliance with the request of the Guardians of the said Union?

The resolution referred to has been received and forwarded to the Congested Districts Board, by whom it will be considered at their next meeting.

Irish Mails

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster-General, whether he has recently received a copy of resolution adopted by the Cavan Board of Guardians recommending the dispatch from Dublin, immediately on its arrival there, of the Irish night provincial letters, thereby securing delivery in London at about 5 p.m., and enabling business letters to be replied to inside 24 hours; and whether this arrangement could possibly be made in connection with the new time table for Irish mails; and, if not possible of adoption at present, can the Postmaster General promise consideration with a view to future adoption?

The Postmaster General has received a copy of the Resolution referred to by the hon. Member. As I stated in the House on the 15th and on the 22nd of February, the Postmaster General has been much pressed by Irish representatives to fix a later instead of an earlier hour for the departure from Dublin of the morning mail to England, and he has so far yielded to their wishes as to fix the hour of departure from Dublin at 7.10 a.m., instead of at 6.40 a.m. The arrangement desired by the hon. Member cannot be made in connection with the new time table which comes into effect on the 1st proximo, nor can the Postmaster General, having regard to the strong pressure brought upon him to postpone the departure of the mail, hold out any expectation of its future adoption. The night mails arrive in Dublin, if punctual, at a little before and after 5 a.m.

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he can state the result of his inquiries into the very inadequate limited mail day service between Dundalk and Cavan and Dundalk and Belturbet; and, whether the Department has yet entered into negotiations with the Great Northern Railway Company to start a special train from Dundalk on the arrival there of the morning mail at 7.20 a.m.; and, if not, can he give any assurance that pressure will be brought to bear on the Company to grant this concession?

The Postmaster General cannot at present state the result of the inquiries into the matter referred to by the hon. Member, as the inquiries are not concluded, and in these circumstances he is not yet in a position to approach the Railway Company on the subject of the day mail to Cavan and Belturbet. The Postmaster General, however, will place before the Great Northern Railway Company the strong desire that exists for improvement in the hope that some arrangement may be found practicable.

Elementary School Teachers(Scotland)

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether it is the case that the Scotch Education Department has resolved to employ in the elementary schools teachers holding certificates issued by the Irish Education Board; and whether such teachers are equal in their qualifications to those holding certificates from the Scotch Education Department?


No change has been made in the Scottish Education Code in regard to certificates issued by the Irish Education Board, which are not recognised under that Code as qualifying a teacher to earn grants.

Educational Endowments(Ireland) Act Amendment Bill

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether, in regard to the Educational Endowments (Ireland) Act Amendment Bill, the Government have given it further consideration; and, if so, whether he can now state what course they propose to take regarding it?

Yes, Sir. The question of amending this Bill has been most carefully considered; and we have arrived at the conclusion that without alterations so extensive as to amount to an entire reconstruction of the Bill, it would be impossible to amend it so as to carry out the views of the Government. Under the circumstances the Government will feel bound to oppose the further progress of the Bill.


I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to a passage in a speech delivered on the 22nd ultimo by the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, in which he is reported to have said that M. Millerand thinks that France should have entered the Dardanelles and seized the Sultan in his Palace; that a proposal was made by one Power at the end of November 1895, but was set aside; whether that proposal, or a proposal to enter forcibly the Dardanelles, became known to Her Majesty's Government; and, if so, when; and whether Her Majesty's Government expressed any, and what, opinion upon it?


I have nothing to add to the answers which I have on two previous occasions given to the hon. Member on the same subject.

said those previous answers were susceptible of two or three interpretations, and they would like to know which they were to accept. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean that no such proposal came to the knowledge of the Government, or did he mean that he did not desire or refused to make any statement on the subject?


I do not think I ought to be called upon suddenly to explain—[Ministerial cheers]—the two previous answers of mine, the meaning of which was absolutely clear. I have said that I can add nothing to those answers, and to that, I am afraid, I must adhere. ["Hear, hear!"]

Then we shall be obliged to put another question to clear up the matter. [Ministerial cries of "Order!"]

said the first part of his question had not been answered at all. Did the right hon. Gentlemen evade it or decline to answer it. [Ministerial cries of "Order!"] If he refused to answer it, let him give reasons why he refused. [Opposition cheers.]


The right hon. Gentleman has said he does not propose to give any further answer. He is at liberty to refuse to give a further answer if he chooses to do so.


The hon. Member seems to be under the impression that he can compel an answer. He has no right to compel any further answer if the right hon. Gentleman does not propose to give it.

Royal Marine Artillery

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty (1) what is the number of subalterns of Royal Marine Artillery now serving afloat; (2) what additional number of subalterns would be required for service afloat in the event of the mobilisation of the Fleet; and (3) whether there are only two fully trained subalterns now available for service afloat at the Royal Marine Artillery Headquarters, Eastney, one of whom is already under orders to embark?

Twelve subalterns, R.M.A., are now serving afloat. The number of subalterns, R.M.A., required for service afloat, in the event of mobilisation, cannot be given, as it would depend upon the ships to be mobilised, which have different complements. The answer to the third Question is in the affirmative. There are 17 officers undergoing instruction in addition.

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty what percentage of the number of gunners of Royal Marine Artillery who embarked in the Fleet for the first time during 1896, had passed all artillery drills ac cording to regulations; and what percentage of gunners who re-embarked during 1896 had only not requalified in all artillery drills according to regulation, but were actually re-embarked without requalifying, according to regulation, in Naval gunnery?

Seventeen per cent. of the gunners R.M.A. who embarked in the Fleet for the first time during 1896 had passed all artillery drills; but none were embarked who had not passed in Naval gunnery. There are no regulations regulations requiring gunners to requalify before re-embarking.

Supply (Colonial Vote)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he will be able to take the Colonial Vote at an early day?

I do not think it would be possible to make any announcement as to the Special Service Vote until we have made some progress with the financial business, which must be got through before March 31. We have still to get the Speaker out of the Chair on the Navy Votes. Then there are the Supplementary Army Votes, the Vote on account, and we must get the Speaker out of the Chair before I can allocate Friday for any discussion.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make arrangements to bring forward at a comparatively early date in the Session the Votes which were closured at the end of last Session?

I think it will be possible to get the Speaker out of the Chair on the Civil Service Estimates on the first Friday after we have disposed of the necessary Navy Estimates; but, of course, I cannot tell the hon. Gentleman how soon that will be. It will depend on the action of the House, over which I have no control. I believe I have already stated that I would endeavour to bring the Votes closured last Session on at an early date.



I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it would be possible to at once lay before Parliament the Greek Note of 10th February, recently alluded to by him in the House, together with any subsequent statement of the case of the Greek Government which may be in the possession of Her Majesty's Government?


(Mr. G. CURZON, Lancashire, Southport)

The Greek Notes will no doubt be laid in due course, together with the other papers relating to the same subject. There is the less necessity at once to lay the Note of February 11th, inasmuch as it would appear to have been already communicated by the Greek Government to the Press.

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury a Question of which 1 have given him private notice—namely, whether he will state the terms of the demand made on the Sultan by the Government in concert with the Powers, and particularly the conditions imposed in regard to the removal of Turkish troops from Crete, and whether, as in the case of Greece, a fixed date has been assigned for the compulsory assent by the Porte to the conditions imposed?

As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, I am not in a position to answer the Question in consequence of not having received from our Ambassador at Constantinople authentic intelligence as to what has been done in the matter of the presentation of the Note to the Porte. I shall, of course, tell the House at the earliest opportunity what has occurred, and at once lay on the Table the Note to the Porte as well as the Note presented to the Greek Government.

As the position is very critical and the House will not meet again until Monday, can my right hon. Friend say whether, on the Adjournment of the House to-night, he would give further information as to the demands made upon Turkey as well as the demands made on Greece?

I think it is extremely probable I shall have information before the close of business, and if so I will communicate it to the House.

wished to inquire as to the fate of the Mussulmans at Candano, whether the attention of the Under Secretary had been called to the statement of the correspondent of Standard

"at Canea yesterday to the effect that a great deal of most precious time which may cost many lives is being wasted—in fact, the fate of the wretched Mussulmans appears to be secondary to the question which side should have the political credit of rescuing them. The claims of humanity are, in fact, those of diplomacy."
A similar telegram appeared in the Daily News from another source. He wished to ask whether, in view of these facts and the danger these 3,000 persons, mostly women and children, were in at the present moment, the Government would telegraph to their Admiral in Cretan waters and instruct him and his colleagues to dispatch the land force stated by the Consuls of Great Britain, Russia and Italy on February 22 to be necessary for the relief of these persons?

asked if there was any truth in the statement made in several of that morning's papers that the Admirals opposed considerable delay to the Greek Consul, and refused to convey, or allow the Greek Consul to proceed to Candano in accordance with the orders of King George to render assistance in rescuing, the Moslems?


No, Sir; the statement is absolutely incorrect. I have not seen the telegram in the papers, but I do not hesitate to say that it did not give a correct statement of the facts. The information we have received on the subjects of the beleaguered garrisons at Candano and Selino is as follows: On March 2nd, the Dryad left to escort a Turkish steamer conveying provisions to the inhabitants of Selino. The Admirals on March 4, so far from refusing to help the Greek Vice-Consul, offered to convey him to Selino in a vessel of the Allied Fleet, with a view to assist the rescue of the Mussulmans at Candano. We have no information whether he refused or accepted. Special instructions to spare no exertions for this end have been sent to the British Admiral; and in addition to three foreign ships, Her Majesty's ship Rodney, with Sir A. Biliotti on board, has started for Selino with orders to relieve Candano.

I only wished to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of stating whether or not it was true that the Admirals refused to permit the Consul to proceed on the Greek ship, and in consequence of the refusal several hours was lost.


Message To The King Of Greece

I desire to ask the First Lord of the Treasury a question of which I have given him private notice—namely, whether his attention has been called to the publication of a telegraphed letter alleged to have been signed by several hon. Members of this House—[Opposition cheer]—conveying an expression of their opinion to the ruler of a Power with whom the continuation of our friendly relations is of the first importance? [Ministerial cheers.]

In answer to my hon. Friend I have to say that my attention has been called to the letter to which he refers. Without expressing any opinion upon the action of the gentlemen who signed the letter, I may say I do not anticipate any serious consequences from it. [Loud Ministerial cheers] It was signed by less than one-sixth of the Members of the House immediately after a Debate had occurred on the foreign policy of the Government, and on which no division was challenged. [Renewed Ministerial cheers.]

Mr. Speaker, I desire very respectfully to ask you whether it is consonant with the spirit of the conditions under which strangers are admitted to the Members' Lobby of this House that a representative of a journal should use this privilege for the purpose of securing the signatures of Members to a document bearing upon a political question? [Ministerial cheers.]


It is obvious that the question of the hon. Member has reference to the same matter which was the subject of the last Question. I must not be taken as expressing any opinion about the facts of that case, for I do not know what the facts are; but in answer to the general question I may say that I certainly consider that it would be an abuse of the privilege—[Ministerial cheers]—granted to any gentleman representing the Press in the Lobby if he were to use that opportunity for the purpose of soliciting from Members signatures to public petitions or addresses of any kind. [Ministerial cheers.] Unless I am otherwise instructed by the House, I should deem it my duty to prevent anything of the sort taking place if it were brought to my notice. [Cheers.]

Orders Of The Day


Strength Of The Navy

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


called attention to relative strength in ships and men. He said it was not his intention to make any attack on the Admiralty. He should move no Amendment and should leave the field open to the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth, with whom he agreed. The policy of the Admiralty was the policy of their predecessors, and there was constant improvement in administration. This was well, inasmuch as they were now told that wars would be won in the future by administration in time of peace. He was not, however, himself satisfied that the policy proceeded on a satisfactory basis as regarded the completeness of the defence afforded. The Leader of the House, in the previous year, had said that we should in 1898–99 possess a "considerable superiority over" the fleets of the two next Powers—that was France and Russia. He was himself still doubtful if that was so; and if in fact it were, he did not consider that that superiority was sufficient for this country. The first question was, had we this considerable superiority? It was not his intention to discuss cruisers, because, although he was told by some authorities that we were somewhat short of those we needed, yet he was not competent to answer the question how far destroyers might, for some duties, take the place of cruisers. He should discuss the in matter as far as the battleships were concerned, and should not enter upon a close and detailed comparison. In 1893 he himself had,joined the Conservative party in complaining of the shipbuilding programme of the then Liberal Administration, but he wished to compare the Return issued by the Admiralty in December 1893, with that issued by the Admiralty in August 1896. These two Returns each gave a list of all the battleships built and building. If they looked at the battleships built between the dates of the two Returns, upon the showing of the Admiralty themselves the British battleships built between those dates were seven, and the French and Russian were 11. The British battleships were all first class; the French and Russian battleships were six first class and five second class; but there was evidently an increase in the strength of France and Russia as compared with our own strength, and this he might take as proved by the Admiralty figures, although those now responsible had thought the state 1893. Moreover, the First Lord of the Admiralty had properly pointed out to the House last year that a British battleship of 14,000 or 15,000 tons must be compared with a French battleship of only 11,000 tons, because of the necessity which lay upon our ships, owing to the immense distances of sea they had to traverse—a necessity which did not exist in the case of the French ships—of carrying an enormous quantity of coal on board. It was said, however, that we were launching and completing ships very fast. ["Hear, hear!"] He doubted if, proportionally, we were keeping this advantage. ["Hear, hear!"] At any rate, Russia was also launching and completing ships extraordinarily fast as compared with her former achievements in that respect. ["Hear, hear!"] Besides, to be able to build faster than other Powers would be very little advantage in time of war. The advantage then lay with the Power which had its ships ready, for in a naval war the issue was likely to be decided early. But he believed it was ceasing to be true that we built ships faster than other Powers. There was a time when we were able to build faster than other Powers; but the other Powers were now catching us up in that respect. ["Hear, hear!"] We used to pride ourselves on the fact that we built extraordinarily fast, and that the French built extraordinarily slow. That statement had been made with patriotic laudation on many occasions in the House. But the French were beginning to build extraordinarily fast in certain classes of battleships—["Hear, hear!"]—though they were still slow in regard to others. It was, however, on the Government Return that he laid the greatest stress. He declared that, however satisfactory the House might deem the figures of that Return as regarded the future, the test of the past was the only test they could apply to it, and applying that test to it showed that, instead of going forward, as the House might believe from the statements of the Government, we were going backwards and falling into arrear in regard to the supply of ships. It should also be remembered that, as compared with other Powers, we had a larger number of ineffective ships, such as ships armed with muzzle-loaders. Again, the state of things in the Mediterranean was such as to cause us some anxiety. While our Fleet in the Mediterranean had been decreased, there had been an enormous increase in the Russian strength in those waters. As compared with France and Russia, we did not now stand in such a favourable position in the Mediterranean as we stood some time ago. Allusion was often made to our ally. The First Lord of the Admiralty had stated last year that we should not stand alone if we were attacked in those waters; but the Power referred to was, relatively speaking, notoriously falling into the background in the matter of ships. The Estimates and statement published on Tuesday night had been described as having upon them the thumb-mark of the Treasury. A few weeks ago it had been thought that five battleships were to have been commenced in the year; although three of them late in the year. It was now seen that only four were to be commenced—three of them at the extreme end of the financial year. The First Lord might say that they could not be commenced sooner because they were to be built in slips which were at present full. It was possible that our means of construction in our dockyards had not sufficiently grown to meet requirements; but the First Lord would not deny that if the ships were ordered they could be obtained by contract, or that an additional number might be so obtained, even if in the dockyards there was a pinch. But the Estimates showed a decrease of 1,500 dockyard hands, as compared with the Estimates of the previous year. He could not regard this programme as satisfactory. Of the great naval Powers, the causes of possible conflict with France were recognised, and those of conflict with Germany with regard to Africa. He himself felt that what had occurred in Northern China in joint pressure by the three Powers—Russia, Germany, and France—in the acceptance of the Russian loan as against our proffered loan, and in the dominance of Russia in Manchuria and Korea, recently secured by treaty, pointed to great risk of common action against ourselves by three great maritime Powers, and it seemed improbable that we could ourselves break up that Concert except by giving way upon points which were vital to our interests, such as our China trade. We had been told on the Naval Estimates last year, what was in fact obvious, that we were isolated, and he himself was all for isolation, as against a policy of alliances; for nothing could be weaker as a policy than one of sham alliances where there was no common purpose; but it must never be forgotten for a moment that isolation meant a predominant fleet. The risks were increasing. The generation who had fought in Continental war, of one of our rivals against another, were being edged out of their power over ideas by those who were too young in 1870 to remember it; and the ideas of the newer generation on both sides were colonial and anti-British. The three great maritime Powers of the Northern Continent were, as their recent actions showed, able now to agree on a policy of Continental peace—joint support of the policy of Russia of expansion on the Pacific, of France in the Further East, and of Germany in Africa. This conjunction could only be faced by us being, strong enough at, sea to hold our own. These Powers had enormous armies to maintain. We were able easily to out build them as regarded ships, and it was to our interest to do so. On the Naval Estimates in 1896, and again, at the end of the Session, the First Lord of the Admiralty had contended that we should for certain have allies; and he used the words "We shall not stand alone." Of this there was no possible security. In reply to the observation that a combination of the three Powers was reasonably possible, while that of the Powers was not, the First Lord had said that only the Athenian answer could be made—that "we must trust in Providence and a good admiral." The same reply might, of course, be made as against a single Power. Putting aside, however, all disturbing causes, such as the use of inventions in one navy which another did not possess, all our admirals advised us that superiority at sea followed well-known rules, and that we could make ourselves safe with a certain superiority of force, well within our reach, against all probable enemies. In spite of the undue cost of our land forces, we could provide that security with less strain upon our wealth than the strain which the maintenance of gigantic armies and navies at the same time produced on the finances of Powers like France and Italy, and he confessed he thought that to provide for it was sound policy, and wiser than to run risks. He had recently shown by a detailed consideration of the figures that the military and naval expenditure of the Empire had reached the gigantic figure of 63 millions sterling, of which 61 millions sterling a year was now spent out of British or Indian funds—that was funds for which the House of Commons was directly or indirectly responsible. Of this tremendous figure the British Army cost far more than half, and the British Navy far less than half. The Navy cost far less than half, even if we took from the Army Votes and added to the Navy Votes the whole of the cost for maintenance of the sea fortresses am I coaling stations which were the bases of the Navy. When he was asked whether so vast an expenditure was not sufficient, and how much he would spend, he replied, whatever was necessary for existence; but if economies must needs be made they would be more tolerable in the case I if military and fixed defence than in the case of that mobile fleet which was out' main reliance. Peace was happily certain for the present, but in the long run would only be pre, served if our naval strength was such as to cause a combination of three Powers, which could be formed for certain purposes, to pause before attacking us. He confessed he thought it criminal not to insure against the risk while we had time to do so, and that insurance meant certain peace. As Captain Mahan had put it, the British Navy was the best security for peace. There were no doubt certain chances in one favour; that we were one Bower contending, in the hypothesis, at sea, against allies, that our seamanship was better titan that of the Russians, both as regarded officers and men; and in some degree better than that of the French as regarded men, on account of our long service, although, in the case of France, there were other, closely connected, facts which told the other way. France had more lieutenants than we had, and lieutenants took nine years to make, and our long service, as compared with their shorter service and real reserve, gave us a limited and them a virtually unlimited command of men in war. Our superiority in rapidity of building was disappearing, as had been seen. French and German mobilisation was more rapid than our own. The French possessed a perfect geographical position on the two seas. Our coaling-station system required a telegraphic cable communication in our own hands, which we had not got, and we were specially short as compared with other Powers in trained engineers and trained stokers. The Appropriation accounts for Navy-services just issued contained a painful correspondence as to the necessity for a large expenditure on confinement cells at the naval depots, caused by the extraordinary proportion of bad characters among suddenly enlisted stokers. The only one of these considerations upon which he should dwell was that of manning. It had been admitted by the First Lord that as matters stood we must draw over 10,000 men from the Reserve on the outbreak of war. Every man in the ship's complement was now utilised; and they were somewhat short complements even when we used, for manning the ship, all the red Marines and all the blue Marines at sea. There were others who calculated that, even with the large increase of men for which they had to thank the First Lord, they would really need from the Reserve an even larger number than had been named. This Reserve was not trained like the reserves of continental nations. The men had little knowledge of guns or of naval discipline. The ships in the Mediterranean and in the Channel Squadron and on foreign stations would have to begin the war with their present crews, and the ships to be fitted out from home would have so unduly great a proportion of imperfectly trained men that they could not be held to be efficient the beginning of a war. The latest official statement about the Reserve was to the following effect:

"The number of 'officers under drill fell short of the estimate'; 'the full number of men estimated to be under six months' training not embarked during the year; the Reserve men not having taken to the proposed embarkation on district ships; fewer first-class men or firemen volunteered for manœuvres'; 'and not so many batteries were established as expected.'"
In the Estimates of the present year, which had been said to have the thumb-mark of the Treasury upon them, there was an increase of 6,000 and odd men, as against an increase of 7,000 and odd which had been expected a few weeks ago. There was, however, a provision for keeping over 500 men of the Reserve at sea. These would not be trained seamen, but seamen or fishermen undergoing a six-months' training, intended ultimately to make them useful in the Reserve. The proposals for improving the Reserve were tentative, and might in the long run constitute an improvement, but they could do nothing for us immediately. These two main deficiencies to which he called attention, that in battleships and that in men, were known to the whole world. The Secretary of State for the Colonies had told them that it was unwise to reveal to the world the defects in our naval and military preparations. The late Minister of Marine of France, in revealing the defects of the French system to the general public, had uttered these words:—
"The only naval facts not known to everyone who is concerned in knowing, are those as to mobilisation and plan of campaign."
Plan of campaign was a secret everywhere, but the facts as to mobilisation were fairly known; at least, he, himself, thought that he knew the French and German mobilisation facts; and doubtless they knew ours. At all events, our condition in men was known down to a single man by every Intelligence Department. Not only did we seem short as regarded the men with whom we were to begin war, but there was also the rapid loss of men in war to be considered; and no allowance had been made for sickness.



He had asked last year for a return which would set forth the exact facts, and that return had been refused; but, without going to hostile critics, the facts as disclosed by the First Lord himself were sufficiently grave. The First Lord could only man his ships by counting all officers, men, boys, coastguards, and marines available for sea-service, which meant practically almost the whole of these classes in existence, and adding from the Reserve. The First Lord questioned whether we should send all our fleet to sea at the beginning of a war, and said that the number to be sent to sea would depend on the nature of the enemy and the operations to be performed. The only war much worth considering in our calculations was a desperate war. No maritime Power was going to attack us single-handed; probably no two would ever do so; and the war more reasonably in view was one in which we should have to send to sea at once all ships not virtually obsolete. The First Lord said that by using up men, boys, coastguards, marines, and drawing 5,000 men from the Reserve he could man every ship that could be ready at once, a statement which somewhat begged the question, as all ships not obsolete ought to be ready at once in a dangerous condition of affairs. Every ship, he said, that could be reasonably sent to sea could be manned by using all he had, am! the Reserve available for sea service, which had formerly been put at from 10,000 men by Admiral Tryon's Committee, to 8,000, but which was assumed in the Debate to be somewhat larger. Supposing all this was true, nothing was left for the waste of the first few weeks of war, and the proposals which were made for increase were not sufficient to fill this gap. A larger increase of men was now to be proposed, but not larger than was needed to man new ships, and all increase of Reserves took a considerable time before it could give us trained men. The Member for Dundee (Mr. Robertson) had supported the First Lord, and had said that we had more active service men than had our possible opponents. Our possible opponents, according to him were France and Russia, and he took no account of Germany. He overstated our own numbers and he understated the numbers of Foreign Powers. He quoted our own number as 93,850, whereas it was touch short of that number at the time at which he spoke He quoted the French number as 41,500, but he omitted officers, and the real number at the time of which he spoke was 44,225. He quoted Russia at 30,600, whereas the real number was 39,249; and Russia and France together at the time at which he spoke had the same number as we possessed, while during a portion of the year the number of active service men in Russia and France exceeded our own. The French reserves were not only far larger than our own, but consisted more largely of trained and disciplined men. The calls upon our Fleet at the beginning of a war would be great indeed. The Government this year had adopted his own language upon this point and were going to increase the garrison of Sierra Leone; but there would be a call to convey heavy guns to India, to convey officers to India, and probably men, and, he fancied, a good many sudden calls from coaling stations in other portions of the globe. The question of the training of the Reserves was of the first importance. The inscription gave to the French Navy, and imitations of it gave to Russia and Germany, a power of expansion that we had not at command. Money could give us ships in two years of peace. Money could not give us men so quickly. Our necessary warfare at a great distance from our base would involve us in a tremendous strain and large reserves were required. Those reserves did not exist, while France had a surplus far larger than she could ever need. There was indeed so large a surplus of trained men available for the navy and kept for this purpose out of the army in France that French soldiers had a name for it. It was called "the lost army corps." The Member for Dundee in his reassuring speech had forgotten this immense reserve. The French got all their engineers, 90 per cent. of their stokers, and a large portion of artificers and of gunners from volunteers, but they had 120,000 men, exclusive of boys, on the lists of the inscription, of whom only 31,000 were over 40 years of age, leaving 189,000 men under 40 years of age who had served at sea on an average for nearly four years. Of the 44,000 men of the French Navy on active service 27,000 belong to the inscription, for there were 13,000 volunteers and 3,000 boys under the inscription age, besides officers. After making all deductions the French had available at least 105,000 trained sailors under 40 years of age. Now in France the total strength required to man the entire fleet was 61,000, including a full allowance for the average of sick men who would have to be replaced, while no such allowance was made with us, The French had, in their own belief, only some 12,000 men to find at once, while they were able to put their hands in two days upon 33,000 trained men of the Reserve—at least 20,000 more than were needed, who would form a force in the ports as a real reserve and as against casualties. France could obtain far more men even than this great number by calling out the inscrits under 35 years of years. He had recently asked as to whether the Admiralty had been consalted on a postal convention of August 30th 1890, allowing mail steamers to return without hindrance to their ports in time of war; and the French had arrangements for the return to their various headquarters of all the inscrits by mail steamer. By the ordinary call made from to time of three classes only—that is the Reserves of three years—France could complete the crews of all her fighting units, as was admitted by the Minister of Marine, "without attracting attention abroad." As regarded the French reserves, an order to mobilise, suddenly and unexpectedly given on the 22nd June 1891, had made the whole reserve division ready to sail on the 24th, and a similar experiment had shown that all the auxiliary cruisers could lint to sea, in 36 hours fully manned. M. Lockroy, in his book, had calculated that "the lost army corps" of trained men, that France could not possibly utilise in her fleets, consisted of 55,000 men, according to his own calculation it was 41,000 men; and yet the Member for Dundee had implied that France and Russia alone had fewer men than we had. He should not deal at length with the proposals which had been made for an improvement. The question remained really where it had been at the time when it formed the subject of essays written for the Gold Medal of the Royal United. Service Institution, and which had been published last year, with the discussions to which they had led among the most competent persons. Commander Honner, in the Gold Medal Prize Essay, had pointed out that it would be impossible to break up the crews of commissioned ships on the outbreak of war, and that the ships fitted out at that time would have to receive an undue proportion of untrained Reserve men who had never seen guns fired, who had been drilled chiefly with obsolete guns, who had not the discipline and the experience required even for supply of ammuni- tion to quick-firing guns, or for acting in magazine parties, and who were wholly unacquainted with turret drill and with torpedo work. He had shown that when the Reserve was created the regular service men had been sufficient to man all the ships, and the Reserve had thus been a true reserve, only intended to supply waste in war, whereas now it was needed at the outbreak of war. He had quoted Sir Geoffrey Hornby as showing that our Reserve men had not a training "to become seamen fit for war." He had then suggested that while the bulk of our war complement of seamen should be long-service men, as at present, a certain number of short-service men should be passed through the Navy to form a well-trained Reserve,. He had also proposed that in all mail contracts, transport contracts, and other shipping contracts under Government, a large proportion of the crew should, by stipulation, be members of the Reserve. He had fully dealt with the reserve of stokers and firemen, showing that at the present moment, that was in the present financial year, we were very greatly short of stokers mid firemen, and had not only no reserve at all, but not enough stokers and firemen to send our ships to sea. The weakest points of all, in his belief, were that we were 1,000 lieutenants short, and 3,000 stokers and firemen short of the numbers required to send the Fleet to sea. In the discussion, Commander Honner's proposals were generally approved. The figures which had been given as reassuring by the First Lord would not bear investigation. The total figures not only included the whole of the marines, but included also among those available for service at sea a great number not so available. They included, he feared, all the men who were required at the naval depots, those needed for the naval defence of fixed defences, the training staffs of many schools, the staff of drill ships, the staff of signal stations ashore, and all the sick. Lieutenant Canis Crutchley, of the Royal Naval Reserve, had shown that a 10 per cent. allowance for sickness must be made. The strain of manning on the country was a mere, trifle to that which it had formerly been. With our vastly-enhanced wealth, and our enormously increased population, we were called upon now (on the highest possible scale suggested) for fewer than half the men that we had actually had at sea in the King's ships in the great war. He could himself remember being on board the Duke of Wellington, when she was the flagship of a squadron at Spithead, when her 120 guns, with 10 men in each gun crew, meant that 1,200 men were needed to fight her; while now ships of the Royal Sovereign class had only 14 guns of any considerable size, with eight men in each gun crew, although, of course, the ammunition supply, and that for the guns, needed many men. Still, what we now wanted were comparatively few. Unfortunately we had not got those few, and we were specially short in those members of the engine-room staff and those trained stokers, as well as t hose lieutenants, who took a very long time to make. We could not be looked upon as being in a satisfactory position for mobilisation until every ship in the service had her full complement of engineers, or, at all events, every ship not obsolete—that was not, counting those which would be put out of service on the outbreak of war. We had not those provisions which even the Italians had at La Spezia, for training stoker recruits in their special duties, and the breakdowns of the small craft which were frequent must be attributed to the utilisation of stokers before they were trained. It was useless to build ships nominally fast unless the engine-room staff was sufficient and perfectly trained. These deficiencies were not only known to all who watched the Fleet, but they were revealed to the public at manœuvres time. For example, the lieutenants and the stokers were used up now in manœuvres, and the ships that were not engaged in the annual manœuvres were ships for whom the lieutenants and the stokers did not exist. Behind the question of manning and Reserve, lay that of the ancient and true Reserve, of the British Fleet—namely, the British Merchant Navy, which had become foreign so rapidly that, while only 14 per cent. had, been foreign in 1885, over 36 per cent. were foreign in 1894, since which time again things hail been rapidly becoming worse. The First Lord had said last year that he desired to decrease the number of foreigners in the Merchant Navy, if it, could be done "by sonic means pot artificial." This was a, somewhat delphic, if not a cryptic, utterance. The effect of all that had been proposed up to the present time would be only to increase the number of British seamen who must be suddenly taken on the outbreak of war from those very ships in which British seamen would be most needed at the time, and the foreign element would only in consequence become more supreme in the Merchant Navy in time of war. The proposal, however, to more largely recruit the fishermen for Reserve purposes, was in the right direction. As regarded man he was, he confessed, despondent. Nothing was now being done for training British seamen. The few apprentices now carried were premium apprentices, who became officers, and the P. and O., the British India, the White Star, and the Cunard carried neither ordinary seamen, boys, nor apprentices in their 208 steamers of 600,000 tons. He had the names of ships carrying large crews, in which there were, none but foreigners, and of large numbers of ships in which there were few but foreigners; and while the great companies of which he had just spoken carried no foreigners, and carried most, excellent seamen, they did, as he showed, nothing towards training seamen for the future. The Report of Sir Edward Reed's Committee: had clearly shown decreasing numbers of British seamen, and yet nothing was to be done towards producing, an improvement. The highest authority, in his opinion, on the subject the captain of the Worcester, Lieutenant Wilson-Barker, of the Royal Naval Reserve—had pointed out the whole of the facts hearing on the case, and Ltd summed up to the effect that they, "from a naval point of view, appeared likely to end in disaster." The inquiries made by Lord Brassey from all the ships' captains trading to Melbourne in reference to the manning of the Navy had shown that they believed that there was still a strong disposition on the part of the youths of the United Kingdom to adopt a seafaring life, but, that the opportunities presented to them of following their inclination had all but disappeared. Apprentices now paid premiums from £10 upwards, and no others were trained except those who were either, on the one hand, persons who aimed at becoming officers, or, on the other, the waifs and strays of our great towns. There was a wide field open between the two. The First Lord of the Admiralty threw the duty on to the Board of Trade; the Board of Trade threw it back again to the Admiralty, and nothing was clone. He should say nothing on other points which the First Lord knew he thought important., in connection with the efficiency of our Fleets, such as the, possession of telegraph cables in our own hands, because superiority in strength in battleships and the manning of those ships with a view to their speedy mobilisation were his main points that night. It was said that we might rest content with the existing rapidity of our mobilisation, because the French arrangements, and which were better on paper, had broken down. Ours had never been subjected to the same test. In France civilian, below-the-gangway, Members of Parliament had been allowed themselves suddenly to call upon the dockyards to keep their paper promises, and send out on the officially recognised notice only all their second-class reserves. They had failed in some cases to keep their days; but should we succeed? Should we succeed in anything like the, same degree? Would not our failure here be greater? Our cackling over the mobilisation of the Particular Service Squadron in January of last year looked as though we were content with a smaller power of performance than that which had been shown in the very failure of the French system to, nevertheless, actually exist in France. He himself, for 17 winters spending some weeks on the average in the chief naval port of France, had a high belief in the rapidity of mobilisation and in the readiness of the French Fleet. On the other hand, not only the facts about the Particular Service Squadron, but those known to him in other directions in this country, filled him with doubt about, our own mobilisation. The Ashanti War, for example, had caused confusion in the victualling department of the Navy at the Victoria Yard. The preparation of the hospital ship for the Benin expedition had also caused confusion there. The annual mobilisation for the manœuvres took four months' preparation there, even in the case of articles which were supposed to be ready in 24 hours, and it was a question whether a test, mobilisation, with the clement of suddenness introduced, would not be more valuable, at least for one year, than our present manoœuvres. The Report on the manoœuvres of last year had not been issued, but in those manœuvres all pretence of rapid mobilisation had been abandoned. A fortnight, had been given, even in the orders, for doing work which was supposed to be done in 48 hours upon our system, and the ships to be newly commissioned were very few in number. He still believed that slowness in taking the sea, as compared with, at least, France and Germany, was one of our chief weaknesses, and it, was closely connected with the deficiency in men. It prevailed even in respect of that which was supposed to be, at once ready—the Fleet Reserve. The direction of the Admiralty towards warfare by the increased power of control of their principal adviser, the First Naval Lord, was another matter to which he attached high importance, as was that to which the gallant Member opposite was to call attention—that peculiarity and deficiency in our system of coast defence, and of defence of naval bases, which Lieutenant Colwell, of the United States Navy, who had been sent to report upon it, had declared to be the worst in the world, and which had been virtually condemned by the present and by the late Secretary of State for War, as well as by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India—a, former First Lord of the Admiralty. But for to-night he would restrict his view to the points which he first named—the insufficiency of strength in battle fleet, and the insufficiency of preparation for the manning of our Fleet, on mobilisation. It had been said that the proposals of the First Lord for this, year had suffered from Treasury control. He could not believe it. The Defence Committee could not but, hold the balance between the views expressed at Bristol by the Secretary of State for War and the contrary views expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and decide upon the relative share in national defence, which the Army and the Navy respectively were to undertake. When that decision had been given the true economy must point to getting full value in both services for the fabulous sums they spent, and not, to merely cutting down the Estimates thought necessary by the responsible Parliamentary head of the more necessary of the two great services. He, for one, believed that expenditure upon the British Navy was expenditure not on war but upon peace, and he held, with the American writer, that the maintenance of the relative strength of the British Navy was one of the best hopes and greatest securities of the peace of the world. [Cheers.]

The right hon. Gentleman prefaced his remarks by stating, as he lets done before, that his criticisms would not be directed against the present Board of Admiralty or the present First Lent personally, but against the system of Boards of Admiralty generally. I appreciate, as I have said before, the tone of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and I know the study he has given to these most important matters. ["Hear!"] One preliminary remark I would like to make, and it is this. We are now, as everyone who has looked into these matters will be aware, in a transition period; we are moving at a very great rate in the direction of increasing, the Navy, and within a comparatively short space of years we have increased our naval power by i0 per cent.; and, moving forward in this direction from year to year, there must be during that period difficulties which are almost insuperable, and which can only be conquered by time. We have increased the number of our ships, and we have to increase the number of our men, and there are some who think we can and should produce these men at once, but anyone who studied these questions knows that only in time can we provide sailors, stokers, officers, and engineers. The right hon. Gentleman complains that we have not got sufficient stokers, but the right hon. Gentleman must know that year by year we are increasing the number of our stokers at a rapid rate. It is useless to complain of deficiency when really efficient men cannot be secured. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the deficiency in our Mercantile Marine, so we have these two facts—on the one hand, the Navy rapidly increasing; and, on the other hand, a Mercantile Marine rapidly decreasing in the number of men in training. Of course, this last fact increases our difficulties. Experts know that we cannot go into the market and secure a certain number of sailors at once, though we have critics who say, "You do not ask for a sufficient number of men; why ask for 6,000; why do you not ask for 12,000 or 20,000 men? "Simply because they could not be got; we could not get trained men in such numbers, and we must get men and train them. Our policy is not to increase the number of men at a greater rate than we can train guns and all the equipments necessary for naval warfare. The right hon. Gentleman, in his concluding remarks, said he believes these are the Admiralty's own Estimates, and that they have not been cut down by the Treasury. That is so. As regards the number of men, the Estimate represents the deliberate and unanimous view of the Board of Admiralty that it is the right figure that should be taken, and we have not been influenced by any consideration as to the degree to which the number would swell the Estimates. It is a figure which represents the degree at which we can get men of a superior standard, boys of the proper character, and the degree of training we can give them. Even if we wished to take a larger number of boys and train them, we could not train them except in a certain proportion in ships with other crews. We have now three training ships for somewhat older boys, and by this means we are increasing our output—if I may use the expression—of boys who will soon become able seamen to a very great extent. Now, I invert the order of the subjects in my reply to the right hon. Gentleman, and speak in the first place of the personnel, to which he has devoted the chief part of his speech. I do not know whether he is aware—I suppose he must be aware, though perhaps he has not given sufficient attention to the point, but certainly the outside public are not aware—how, to a great extent the complement of men for our ships is not composed of sailors and engineers, but includes a large number of others. Some critics treat the matter as if we required some 10,000 or more trained men, but a ship's complement contains many men who have no claim whatever to be considered trained men at all. I can give the House, and I think it is right the House should know, some of the proportions of seamen in our modern ships. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the fact that, we now required a smaller number of seamen in our complement for a ship than used to be required. It is so, not only a smaller number, but a smaller proportion of seamen. Take the case of the Majestic, the proportion of the seamen class required on board is 45 per cent. of the whole, or not quite half the number of men are seamen. Then there are 18 per cent. of the engineer class, 13 per cent. are marines, 3 per cent. are artificers, and there is a miscellaneous class of whom a large number are taken from outside, and under all circumstances should be taken from outside, and whom it would be perfect waste to keep in time of peace. In the Powerful, again, 36 per cent. are of the seamen class, in the Talbot 44 per cent, and in the Valorous 36 per cent. Even among stokers, though we do require some highly-trained men, there are sonic who are no more than coal trimmers, and can fairly be taken from outside as required. I do not say that we would take an ocean tramp and put him on board a torpedo destroyer; our proposals provide for a class of highly-trained stokers. We have a school for stokers which is superior to that of any other nation, and that is the ships in which they stoke. ["Hear, hear!"] We have a so much larger proportion of our fleet at sea on a war footing that we have a much better opportunity of training our stokers as a whole than any of those who hate got any other class of school. ["Hear, hear!"]


I think the right hon. Gentleman will find we have a much larger number of ships at sea even in proportion, and we are training a much larger number of men. As regards the training of stokers and engineers we follow a system by which we pass as many as possible through the torpedo destroyers at the home ports. We have squadrons of torpedo destroyers on which we put crews for a certain period, and when that period of study is completed we replace them by another crew, and, therefore, pass through them a considerable number of men. ["Hear, hear!"] I have made these remarks with reference to the 100,000 men who are required, but I should like upon that to come, to a fallacy which underlies a good deal of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He suggested that in case of a great war we should mobilise every ship.


I distinctly excluded those which are obsolete, and which ought to form a second line.

The right hon. Gentleman suggested, generally speaking, that every good ship should be mobilised. That is to say, we are to have no reserve ships. It is held by my colleagues at the Admiralty that, in the same way as you want a reserve of men, you must have a reserve of ships. [Cheers.] If you sent them all to sea you would have ships go wrong in their machinery and you would have no other ships to take their place. The right hon. Gentleman asks us to make allowance for men that are sick, but he does not himself make allowance for ships that are sick. [Laughter.] There may be accidents, such as happen to all squadrons and navies, especially in these days of great complications, when some accident may happen to machinery without any naval action, which would be more serious even than if a large number of men suffered from incapacity. The right hon. Gentleman speaks of loss and waste in the first weeks. I hope there will not be such a striking loss of men in the first weeks of a war. But there would be ships which would require to be replaced by other ships, and that I consider to be a probability against which you must guard. Therefore, the whole idea upon which these calculations are based, that you are going to send all your ships to sea at once, to my mind involves a mistake in strategy and involves a merely hypothetical case, which is more academical than actual. ["Hear, hear!"] The point is, can we man our ships as fast as we want them and as fast as those ships will be ready? The right hon. Gentleman and others speak of Reserves as if they have to be ready on the very day. They do not allow for the fact that a great number of ships will not be ready on that day. There are always a considerable number of ships that are under repair, and under these circumstances to look upon the idea that you must have your men ready on the first day is a hypothesis which will not be realised. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of Admiral Tryon's estimate of the number of Reserve men that would come forward. He said there were 10,000 at that time. I think the number of our total Reserves was less than it is now, therefore the proportion that would be available now would be larger than then. But besides these 10,000 were men who would come forward in the course of the first six weeks. In two months there would be a great deal more; in three months there would be still more, and it would be fully three months before a good many of them would be available. Let me dwell on the inconsistency of a good many of the critics who deal with the Reserve. On the one hand, they urge a large increase in the Reserve, who they say ought to go from our present figure to 50,000 or even 70,000 men, but vet at the same time say that we are depleting our Mercantile Marine, and so weakening it that it could not carry on its business during the first months of a war. I agree we must not deplete oar Mercantile Marine, therefore, I do not think we can push the Naval Reserve beyond a certain point. Let me remind the House that our proposal is to increase the number of men by 6,300. This increase is a net increase. It was suggested last year, with reference to the increase of 4,900, that that was little more than would replace the waste. But the number of 6,300 is taken in addition to the entries necessary for replacing the Waste. It does not represent these entries at all, but is an actual addition of men to the active list. It is sometimes thought that the column "average number borne" represents so many men whom we have not been aide to get. That is not the case. It is not the number actually borne, but the supposed average of the year. The real point is, What is the actual number borne? I have had a, paragraph introduced showing the actual number. The average number, as it was usually stated, would be 90,160, but on January we had 92,322; on February 1, 93,309; and we are quite certain that by the end of the year we shall have every man whom the House of Commons allowed us to engage at the beginning of the late financial year. ["Hear, hear!"] We shall have the full number of men; we have been able to secure them without tampering with the standards, and we have been able to satisfactorily increase the numbers by that amount. ["Hear, hear!"] It was said that I had undertaken that I would only increase the numbers of men by 5,000 in the year. I never said anything of the kind. I said our policy would be a steady increase according to the calculations which we should make as regards the ships coming on, but I never pledged myself to any particular number. The right hon. Gentleman thought in my calculation as to the number of available men I had included those who were already included in the A Vote for other services. That is to say, that I had included boys under training, some pensioners, and others.


I did not mention boys of this particular class, because I knew it was not so. What I mentioned was the training staff of schools and drill ships and signal staffs.

Other critics have not been so observing, and it has been distinctly stated I have made a mistake of 10,000 men by adding in boys, and others who were only fit for training. I never did anything of the kind, and in the calculation I made last year I did not include any except those who were on the active service list. I will now place before the House a few facts so that they may precisely see the great exertions we have male sail at the same time the great difficulties we have had to encounter in bringing up the personnel to this necessary point. In five years, including the present financial year, we have added 26,000 men to the Navy. [Cheers.] I put it to my hon. and gallant Friends that this is equivalent to 26 battalions of the Line. If there had been 26 battalions added to the Line, it would have been thought a stupendous addition to the Army. ["Hear, hear!"] To show the right hon. Gentleman and the House how we have gone on pari passu with ship building, let me call their attention to the following particulars. The additions to be made to the Fleet by the end of the financial year 1897–98, by ships laid down by Lord Spencer's Board in 189–96 consist of seven battleships, four first-class cruisers, ten second-class cruisers, two third-class cruisers, and 48 torpedo-boat destroyers. The crews required to man these 71 vessels when completed make a total of 15,550 men. Corresponding additions made to the personnel of the Fleet during the financial years 1894–95, 1895–96, 1896–97, give a total of 17,000 men; therefore, while on the one hand we have increased the number of ships by 71, we have not fallen behind in men, but added a sufficient number to man the ships. [Cheers.] This year we propose, as the House is aware, to add 6,300 men, as shown in the Estimates for 1897–98. It may be to the satisfaction of the House to know that we did not last year simply look at the year for which we were making the Estimates. We knew last year, when we asked for 4,900 men, that we should have to ask for as many if not more this year. Therefore we must add 12,000 men to the present strength when dealing with the war fleet of 1898–99. The additions to the Fleet by the end of the financial year 1897–98 by Lord Spencer's programme would consist of five battleships, four first-class cruisers, three second-class cruisers, six third-class cruisers, and 42 torpedo destroyers, and for these 11,620 men are required, and for the ships to be laid down in 1897–98—namely, four battleships, three third-class cruisers, and two torpedo destroyers—3,780 men, or 14,000 altogether. As I have said, it is proposed to add 6,300 men, as shown in the Estimates before the House for 1897–98, with a similar addition for 1898–99. If this is carried out, and the automatic growth of the seaman class for 1899–1900 (which may be taken approximately as 2,000 men) be added, there would be required to man the 140 vessels laid down, ordered, and proposed, 1894–95 to 1897–98, 30,950 men; the provision made and proposed was for 31,650 men, which will cover the whole of the modern ships. The total this year and the numbers we propose to vote is, in round figures, 100,000, and, if to that we add 6,300, that will be 106,300, and it is the opinion of my colleagues and myself that that is a point beyond which it would be impolitic and unwise to go in maintaining men on the active list, under the colours or at sea, in time of peace. For the remainder of the men who may be wanted we must depend on our Reserves. The right hon. Gentleman may say, "Suppose you build more ships?" Then they must take, the place of the reserve or older ships, which will be continually falling out of use. It is not encouraging to build ships as we have done and to have it pointed out that it is impossible to man them. It is not your finest or newest ships, but the oldest, that would be left behind in time of war, and for which provision would have to be made as the war proceeded. I hope the House will see that we have done what we could, and, although some critics may say, "The Estimates are disappointing; we expected a great deal more," that we are moving forward at a pace corresponding to the interests of the country. But I think that, while we attend to the active list, the greatest attention should be paid to the Reserves, and it is for this reason we, have proposed a scheme by which we believe the training of the Reserves will be greatly improved. It was said that the Reserves had no training at sea; we wish to give them that training. It was said that a great portion of the Reserves would be abroad when wanted; we are going to concentrate our forces at home. I hope a good supply will be had of fishermen who are to be sent to sea for six months' training, with another six months to qualify for apprenticeship. It is true that this is a tentative proposal. But we have not acted alone in the matter. We have consulted the Registrar General of Seamen. We have taken him into our counsel, and point by point put our plan before him. Some of our plans we have modified to meet suggestions he was kind enough to make, and we believe we have hit on a plan that will be successful. Hon. Members may say, "Why not increase the Reserve largely?" We will not increase the Reserve beyond our power of training. ["Hear, hear!"] We do not wish to have a force on paper. I said so last year and I repeat it now, and the convictions I expressed are largely embodied in the changes I have proposed. If they succeed, we shall undoubtedly have a better Reserve than in past years. But let hon. Members understand that of the Reserve of 25,000 men we shall not have only 10,000 available during the first six weeks or two months after the outbreak of war. It would be an extravagant system to pay 25,000 men with the knowledge that we should only have 10,000 immediately available. As to the remaining 15,000, I believe a large proportion of them would come up to fulfil the obligations for which they had a retaining fee and in regard to which they were promised a pension afterwards. The right hon. Baronet drew a comparison between our Reserves and the French. He spoke of the French Reserves as highly-trained men. They may have been highly-trained once. A considerable proportion may not have been to sea more than one year. Amongst these inscripts, as they are called, are a large number who could, for various reasons, claim exemption and to be let off one year, and their total necessary training now under the short service system is three and a-half years. After they have served three or four years they remained liable to be called upon for three years after that, and every ten years they have to drill twice for 28 days, not at sea, but in port. The French inscripts include men who have not been to sea for 20 or 30 years, and there are a great many among them who have only done 28 days' drill in ten years. In these Debates all the weaknesses of our naval system are insisted upon, while those of continental nations in comparison with ourselves are often overlooked. ["Hear, hear!"] Then we have 10,000 pensioners, a body of seasoned men who would be of incalculable value. It is suggested that they would not be forthcoming when required, but a Naval Reserve man would be treated as a deserter if he did not respond when called upon to fulfil his duties in time of war, and seamen pensioners are distinctly liable to be called upon to serve. They are required to serve in the Navy in any emergency if not absolutely incapable.

Yes, naval pensioners; besides the 6,000 Royal Naval Reserve there are 4,000 pensioners partly marines and partly seamen, and every pensioner is bound to serve on an emergency whether he is in the Reserve or not. If he is in the Reserve he gets payment, if not he gets no payment, but his liability to serve his country remains the same. I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman should omit those 10,000 pensioners, because I would point out that that is a very material force. If you have 25,000 Reserve men, 10,000 pensioners, and 100,000 on the active list, we get a total force of 133,000 men, on whom we have as much title to call in time of emergency as the French have to call upon their inscripts or conscripts or any of the forces to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded.

I have only given the figures of those not incapacitated. There are a certain number, 2,000 or 3,000, who are incapacitated, but I have only taken those who are not incapacitated. I do not put them forward as men who are fit to assist in the navigation of our first-class ironclads, but they are not older than a great many of the inscripts to whom the right hon. Gentleman attaches so much importance. They are distinctly men who know the duties on board ship, and who would assist in strengthening the crews.

Are any of these pensioners cooks, stewards, or stokers?

No; they are seamen and marine pensioners, and they do 14 days' drill every year, so that I can assure the hon. Member that that is not so. I am sure it is desirable that the case should be fully placed before the House. ["Hear, hear!"] To sum up, we have 100,000 men on the active list, 25,000 men in the Royal Naval Reserve, whom we wish to improve year by year, and, besides that, we have 10,000 pensioners. Now let me ask another question. Hon. Members should bear in mind that year by year a considerable number of seamen take their discharge after 12 years' service. These men become yachtsmen, or enter to a certain degree into civil employment, but they are a large number of sturdy seamen who have had their 12 years' service at sea, and who are in the country. I refuse to believe that in an emergency a considerable number of these men might not, be got from those who have been trained at sea, and who, at all events, by a bounty if necessary, would be attracted to the service. I will not call it a large resource, but when the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the crews in old times I would point out that a great many of those were recruited from men who had never been at sea and were soldiers. One of our great naval battles was won by a regiment of soldiers who were placed on board ship. The House must hear in mind that on these men-of-war we do not require more than a certain proportion of seamen and engineers, and that there is much work which can be done by men carrying ammunitions and by men who would volunteer from the shore. It is the distinct opinion besides of those who have looked into this matter that there is a considerable resource of men who could be got from outside sources. I indicate them, but I do not dwell upon them, but it is an element which ought not to be entirely overlooked. I have shown the House what I conceive to be our resources. I reiterate that I do not wish to magnify them; I admit the difficulties in which we stand during a period of transition. But now I would inquire what are the remedies which are proposed by others, and what course is urged upon us different from the course which we are following. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to one; it was to run a short-service system side by side with the long-service system. That system was taken up by others, but it is condemned by naval opinion. ["Hear, hear!"] It was withdrawn after a certain time, and it was admitted that the bulk of naval opinion was against it. The difficulties of running a long-service and a short-service side by side would be extremely great—["hear, hear"]—the complications would be very great, and, at all events, so long as I hold my present position, I say in the strongest possible terms that I will not be driven to do anything which might shake in any degree the long-service system in the Navy—[cheers]—which I believe is one of the cardinal points of the present position. ["Hear, hear!"] It sounds, possibly, easy to have these 5,000 men running side by side with the long-service men, but, supposing we carried out that suggestion, what security have we that the men who have been five years on a man-of-war would then go into the Mercantile Marine and remain at our disposal? That is a point on which I should like to hear something from the shipowners. There is another proposal besides the short-service system to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded, and that is that the Government should undertake the training of boys for the Mercantile Marine. I have seen the proposal put forward by which the various duties could be carried out. It has been suggested that the Government should give £35 for each apprentice, who is to serve four years in the Mercantile Marine, and after one year's service in the Navy he is to pass into the Royal Naval Reserve. Again I say you have no security that these men would pass into the Mercantile Marine at all. Those who put forward these schemes may expect also that the shipowners should do something. On that I have got rather a strong feeling. The right hon. Gentleman has pointed to the difficulties of the Mercantile Marine. If it comes to this, that the shipowners cannot or will not employ British seamen in sufficient numbers, what is to become then of the maritime greatness of the country? Are we as a State to undertake so to nurse this profession that we are artificially to produce these men? I do not know what it is that prevents the expansion of our Mercantile Marine; I do not know whether the fault lies, as some allege, with the shipowners—[Mr. HAVELOCK WILSON: "Low wages"]—who wish to engage men at a cheaper rate—["hear, hear"]—or whether it lies with the men who, under certain compulsion, are occasionally driven to make regulations which make it difficult for the shipowners to comply with their conditions. [Cheers.] I do not say on which side the truth is, but this is a difficulty which, I believe, cannot be overcome by the State. The right hon. Gentleman said the matter had been bandied to and fro between the Admiralty and the Board of Trade. I think it ought to be bandied to and fro between the shipowners and sailors and the public at large. For my part I should certainly be sorry to increase the Navy Estimates by putting upon them the, training of men for the Mercantile Marine without any security whatever that when the time came we should gain men proportionate in number to the expense incurred. To sum up the question of the personnel, I say that there is no counter proposal which has been made as to a steady increase of the personnel and an improved training in the Reserve that will hold water. I see nothing better than to pursue the present steady and sober increase, by training boys year by year, taking stokers as we are taking them, and increasing the number of marines as we are increasing them now. I frankly say, that being the policy of the Admiralty, it will take a rent deal to move us from those lines by any of the pressure which during the last year it has been attempted to put upon us. Let me warn the House of this—there is nothing more dangerous, when no, clear reform or expedient can be suggested, than to press for some impossible changes. The temptation might be to try something in an empirical way in order to secure more public opinion behind, and to undertake larger operations in which you did not yourself believe. That is a course which certainly I should decline to take, and I believe, notwithstanding the difficulties which are created by the rapid expansion of the Fleet, we are proceeding on the right lines; and until our critics are able to propose something better than they have proposed, I hope we shall be supported by public opinion in the course we are pursuing. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman said that we have made no progress in our position, in relation to France and Russia, since 1593, when the Conservative Party moved a vote of censure on the then Liberal Government for the insufficiency of their naval programme. I have not had an opportunity of looking into the position of 1593 since the right hon. Gentleman has spoken; but at all events, I say that, if we were to go to war to-morrow with two great maritime. Powers, we have, as the Papers submitted to the House show, a superiority over them. [Cheers] I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman disputes that point.


I said that you were dissatisfied with the position in 1893; but comparing the return of 1893 with the return dated August, 1896th and circulated in November, 1896, in that time the number of ships we have built is seven, and the number built by France and Russia, 11.

At all events, we have now a superiority in numbers, and I believe we have a distinct and considerable superiority in the class of our ships. [Cheers.] I think the right hon. Gentleman desired to be fair, and to put both sides of the Question before the House—he showed in what we were strong, and he showed in what he considered we were weak. But there is one point he did not call attention to—a point which every naval man knows the value of,—.I which our foreign rivals know the value of—I refer to the homogeneous character of our Fleet. [Cheers.] If you take the Channel Squadron or the Mediterranean Squadron, there is no squadron that any two other countries could put to sea which would be able to compete with either of those squadrons. [Cheers.] Every hon. Member knows that the speed of a squadron is the speed of its slowest ship. We have now the Channel Squadron and the Mediterranean Squadron, and if you add the other vessels we have 17 ships which are entirely unrivalled as a group. [Cheers.] We have nine Majestics nearly finished, eight of the Royal Sovereign class, or 17 ships altogether, which, whatever our critics may say, form a group so homogeneous, so strong, so successful in every way, that if 17 other ships were put against them they would not be able to compete with them. [Cheers.] The designs of our ships have also been so exceptionally successful, that when the vessels were completed they fully realised all expectations as to speed and strength. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the quicker shipbuilding of France. But it must be remembered that ships may be launched at different stages of contruction; and it therefore does not follow that if one ship is rapidly launched and that another is not so rapidly launched, that the one is necessarily behind the other in respect of completion. The right hon. Gentleman compels me to speak of the relative imperfection of other fleets. It is a subject on which otherwise I would not care to dwell. There is a considerable number of French ships which have been behind time according to the French programme, and have been unable to take their places at the time appointed in the squadron in the Mediterranean or at Brest; and I am still inclined to believe that we still hold the field not only relatively, but in the same proportions as before, with reference to the greater speed with which we can build our ships. If ever I require consolation for the attacks which are sometimes made in the Press and elsewhere upon the Admiralty, I have only to seek out what, is said of the French Navy in France to enjoy the distresses of others. [Laughter.] The one thing that is held up in France is the superior administration of our dockyards in regard to the quicker building of our ships, and the manner in which they correspond in their designs, and are ready when they are wanted. [Cheers.] If I am not mistaken there have been a good many changes amongst the constructors in France. Why? Because the results obtained of certain ships had not corresponded to the designs sent them. ["Hear, hear!"] I say, therefore, we hold distinctly an advantageous position. We have even a slight superiority as regards numbers; we have a great superiority in the homogeneousness of our ships, and in their successful designs; we retain our lead as regards rapid construction; and I venture also to repeat what I said last year, that the forces of two countries, where the ships are constructed on different designs, on different speed, and under different classifications, will not be able to contend on equal terms, even if equal in numbers of ships, with another Power having a homogeneous force managed by one administration, and not having to depend on the various contingencies to which any alliance must be exposed. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman said that the Russian forces have been largely increased in the Mediterranean, and that they were now dangerously equal to our own. If that is so, we have at Gibraltar, at the entrance to the Mediterranean, in addition to our Mediterranean Squadron, the Channel Squadron, the most, powerful squadron that has ever at peace time been at sea, always within call, and ready for any duties it might be called upon to perform. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman need not be under any apprehension at present that there is any danger of our being inferior in numbers or in power in any sea where we may be encountered. I repeat that I am reluctant to have to make these statements, which may sound as if we were boastful; but when allegations are put forth by an authority such as the right hon. Gentleman, and repeated in a thousand exaggerated forms by others, it is necessary that a counter statement should be made, and I have attempted to make it in as moderate terms as I possibly could. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman spoke of a reduction in our Estimates this year, and referred to the reduction of the dockyard hands by 1,500. These were special men taken on last year to hasten the completion of certain ships. They were engaged by special contract, for a special purpose, and were not to be continued after that specific contract had expired. The right hon. Gentleman need not fear that there is any change in our policy, any zig-zag, as he calls it, in our system. We are moving on precisely the same lines as last year; and this reduction was simply caused by our having completed the special object for which those men were engaged. ["Hear, hear!"] Then in regard to the Estimates. Last year we made a special effort, and this year we are making a special effort. Our Estimates are still vastly in excess of the Estimates of previous years. But we are reproached on one particular item in regard to which there is a falling-off; but that falling-off does not more than represent the relief which has been thrown on 1897–98 by the special effort which was made last year. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the danger of a, combination of more Powers than the two Powers which are generally assumed to be our possible antagonists. He repeated a statement of mine that, if there was a great, combination, we must trust in Providence and a good Admiral. Let the country thoroughly understand that it is impossible for one Power, however rich, to be able to face a combination of all other countries. [Cheers.] Take Germany itself. If France, Russia, Austria, and this country were to combine against Germany, what could Germany do? She would fight to the last, trusting in a good General and Providence. That would be the fate of any country in these days, when there are so many great military and naval Powers. We have only to go forward on such lines—we are bound to go forward on such lines—as would meet any reasonable contingency. We are bound to move forward making every possible exertion, but not hurrying beyond the capacity of production either of ships, or, if I may use the phrase, of men. Some say, "Why not, lay down more ships?" But ships require armour, and armour requires great preparations and time in order to produce it. ["Hear, hear!"] Thus we face the situation with a determination to go forward on steady and moderate lines, not thinking, I am bound to say, of the amount of our Estimates, because we can plead no excuse that the House of Commons would not grant us, I might say, whatever money we asked for. [Cheers.] If, therefore, we do not produce larger Estimates, it is because, looking the facts in the face as to what can and ought to be done, we consider that in the programme which we have laid before the House, and in our proposals for the increase of the personnel, we have done what is required of us, what should satisfy the country, and what should not give any cause of alarm to any of our possible rivals. [Cheers.]

said that in listening to the speech of the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean he found himself rather on the side of the Admiralty. But while, in the main, he had nothing but what was favourable to say of the proposals of the Government, there were some matters on which his views were not favourable. At this moment one portion of the great Fleet of this country especially attracted public attention; and while observing the rule which forbade the discussion of foreign policy in connection with the Army and Navy Estimates, the House was entitled to know what was the exact status of any squadron at a particular moment, and what that squadron was doing. He might ask many questions which he should not ask about the Fleet in Cretan waters, as, for example, about the non-naval duties which were being intrusted to British naval officers. But the point to which he wished to direct attention was.the line taken by the First Lord of the Treasury. About a week ago the right hon. Member for the Stirling Burghs asked whether the Government would produce the Admiralty instructions to the Commander of the Fleet in Cretan waters. A sort of conditional promise was given, but next day, when the Question was repeated, the First Lord of the Treasury refused to lay the instructions on the Table, saying:—

"It has never been the practice to make public the instructions to military or naval officers on active duty."
That was a statement which he challenged, and he contended that the First Lord of the Treasury was quite wrong. Of course, there were strategic instructions issued to Admirals which no one would ask for, and which no Government would make public. The Admiral on every station had strategic instructions which would enable them to act in every likely contingency. But what the Government were asked to produce were instructions showing the political nature of the service on which the Fleet in Cretan waters was engaged. In 1878, a more critical time than the present, just such a demand was made by the then Marquess of Hartington with reference to the movement of the Mediterranean Fleet; and on January 28 Sir Stafford Northcote read to the House the instructions sent to the British Admiral, which were headed "most secret," and which were dated January 23. The only other occasion on which such a demand could have been made was in 1886, when a Liberal Government had ordered the Mediterranean Fleet to join in a pacific blockade of the coast of Crete. Information was asked for, and within a few weeks a Parliamentary Paper was issued containing the communications which had been made to the British Admiral. Therefore the First Lord of the Treasury was wrong in saying that it was the practice not to give these Instructions. There was another matter. About a week ago the First Lord of the Admiralty made a speech at a City dinner in which he undertook to defend the conduct of the British naval officers acting in Cretan waters. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman said:—
"I implore you not to believe every story you nay see against the honour and capacity and the prudence of British naval officers." [Cheers.] "I, fur my part, whatever may be the effect on anybody else, as the head of the Admiralty, intend to stand by the action which the Admirals have taken."
[Cheers.] That statement was entirely superflous and supererogatory. It gave a false impression of any criticism which might have been made of the action of the Admirals. The British naval officers were the servants of the First Lord of the Admiralty, who was the servant of the Government, who were the servants of the House of Commons. As head of the Admiralty the right hon. Gentleman was not called upon to defend the action of naval officers. This strong language of the right hon. Gentleman's was wholly beside the mark, and gave a false impression of what any sensible person would al ink of saying.

said that he had never heard anyone allege that what had been done was a dishonour to the naval officers.

said that it might have been called a disgrace to the Government.

said that of course the officers and men acted according to orders, and it was not for them to consider the character of the policy which they carried out. His complaint was that the First Lord of the Admiralty had undertaken their defence, not in his capacity as a member of the Government, but in his special capacity as First Lord of the Admiralty, so giving undue weight to statements which he himself had not heard made. [Cries of "Oh!"] It was an unfortunate mode of vindicating the honour of men whose honour had not been attacked, and the capacity of men whose capacity was manifest to the whole nation. He was in entire accord with what the First Lord of the Admiralty had said in answer to the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean. The right hon. Gentleman had recalled some figures which he (Mr. Robertson) had submitted to the House on a similar occasion last year. These figures he took out when he was at the Admiralty three years ago, and he rather flattered himself that he had discovered something in the nature of a new defence of the Admiralty. His object last year was not to vindicate the comparative numbers of the men in our service and in foreign services, but to show that while the navies of France and Russia, had undoubtedly increased very greatly during the last ten years, their personnel had not. The number of men in the British Navy, on the other hand, had gone up by 50 per cent. in that period, and if this country was reasonably safe ten years ago we were in a very much better position now. With regard to the Royal Naval Reserve, he congratulated the First Lord on the new movement he had instituted this year for securing increased efficiency. So far as he could gather the proposal was in principle well calculated to bring about that result. But the scheme did not deal with the number of the Royal Naval Reserve. In the ten years from 1887 to 1897 the strength of the British Navy on the active service list had increased from 62,500 to 100,050, or something like 80 per cent. But in the same period the strength of the Royal Naval Reserve, including. Naval Volunteers, had only increased from 20,000 to 23,000. If the proportion between the Reserves and the active services was safe as it stood ten years ago, ought that proportion not to be maintained now? The figures he had given established a primâ facie presumption in favour of increasing the Royal Naval Reserve. He was glad that a small beginning was made in this year's Estimates, and he would welcome any scheme by which this portion of the strength of the Fleet might be further increased. With regard to ships, a Return, obtained at the request of the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, gave statistics of all the great navies of the world other than our own. From this he found that the battleship strength of these navies stood at 660,000 tons, while the tonnage of the battleships of this country was 465,000 tons—["hear, hear!"]—or two-thirds of the strength of all the other effective navies in the world. Coming to ships building, the tonnage of the foreign nations amounted to 253,000 tons, while this country had a total tonnage in ships building of 170,000 tons. ["Hear, hear!"] Judged from that point of view, he did not think there was any material fault to be found with the strength of our tonnage. The House ought, however, to have some explanation of why the addition of four battleships was now to be made. He did not challenge it, but the defence made by the First Lord pointed to a maximum being attainable, and likely to be attained very soon, and was rather against this addition to our battleships. He had no doubt the proposed increase was founded on the relative growth of other navies, and, if that were so, he feared it cut away the foundation of the First Lord's hopes that in a few years we should have reached our maximum strength in ships and possibly in men. He did not want to say anything about any other ships than battleships, but there was one other vessel mentioned in the First Lord's statement which would have to be justified to the common sense, and he would even say to the loyalty, of the House of Commons. The sentence to which he referred was in these words:—

"A new yacht for Her Majesty the Queen is to be laid down at Pembroke. The design is now in hand.'
He was not going now to challenge that addition to the Navy. He would, however, remind the House that there was a small fleet of Royal yachts in existence already, that they had been most expensive, that they were not very much in use, and that the proposal to add to the number was one the reasons for which every Member of the House was bound to be satisfied upon. There was one condition, perfectly consistent with the most unbounded loyalty, which was demanded by a pure sense of justice to the service. His view about every item of expenditure in the Navy Estimates was that it should go to the strengthening of the Fleet as a great fighting machine. What he would suggest was that this new Royal yacht should be utilised as a fighting vessel as well. There was no difficulty about that. Royal yachts in other navies were capable of being used as fighting ships, and was there any reason why this should not be done in reference to this proposed accession to the Royal Navy? If that were proposed—and he was rather inclined to think it was proposed—any objection he might otherwise entertain to this addition would be if not entirely, at least in great part removed. He desired to say a word as to the singular circumstances under which these Estimates were presented to the House. He did not know when the Estimates were so late as they were this year, but be that as it might, it was a fact that four weeks ago the great body of information contained in the First Lord's statement was made known to the world by a Scotch Unionist newspaper. How that came about he did not know, but the internal evidence went to show that it could sot have been obtained otherwise than through official sources, and no official communication of the kind could have been other than a violation of the spirit if not of the letter of the Official Secrets Act. They almost took proceedings against a paper which had placed itself in such a position, and he did not think it was right this sort of communication should be allowed. This statement had really been before the public for three or four weeks, though there were two items in which there was a difference. Those differences were reductions, and it was those differences showing reductions in an otherwise inspired statement which had led to the universal belief that the First Lord had either been beaten by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or had changed his own mind. He thought it hardly fair to Members of the House who wanted to raise general questions that they should be called upon to discuss these Estimates when they had only been before the House two days. He hoped the First Lord of the Admiralty would, in these circumstances, not attempt to take anything in the way of money but would allow an opportunity for the further consideration of the Estimates.

said he desired to express his satisfaction with the general character of the Estimates placed before the House. He believed they were of such amount and contained such proposals as would be satisfactory to the country, and would give them an assurance that the safety of the nation was being properly and well cared for by the Admiralty. He was glad the right hon. Baronet had raised the question of the personnel of the Navy, because it was one of great importance. He thought, however, that the right hon. Gentleman had unnecessarily raised a doubt in the mind of the country as to the sufficiency of the provisions for the maiming of the Fleet. They had to thank the First Lord for so fully and frankly explaining the points in connection with the manning of their ships. They were now able, by the figures, which were given for the first time in his remembrance, to form an opinion as to the sufficiency of their resources for manning the Fleet. The number of men required to man the whole of the ships that could be put to sea, including those that would be completed at the end of next year, would be something, like 115,000 to 120,000. As the First Lord pointed out, it was a mistake, in dealing with these figures, to suppose that that represented the number of men necessarily to be trained in the Navy for naval purposes. It was that supposition in the public mind that so often misled them as to the resources of the country and the number of men available for manning their Fleet. He had taken sonic little trouble to look into the proportion of men who ought to, and must, be trained before they could be fit to go on board their ships compared with the number of men who might be picked up outside without such naval training, but who had sufficient knowledge to go on the ships in case of emergency. Taking the figures given by the First Lord he calculated that the absolute number of trained men required to man the whole of their vessels would be something like 76,000, while 40,000 men, accustomed to similar work outside the Navy, could be got on an emergency. Then there were 3,000 firemen in the Royal Naval Reserve, so that the total number of officers and men required to man the ships next year, when ready, would be something like 72,000 and we had 73,000 on the Estimates to be available of the Royal Naval Reserve and continuous service men. These figures clearly demonstrated that there need be no anxiety as to the sufficiency of men provided by the Admiralty for ships constructed or in course of construction. But a point of prominent importance was where were the Reserves to come from to meet the casualties that would arise in warfare: could the Mercantile Marine supply them; was the Royal Naval Reserve increasing at a proper rate? He ventured to say that the Royal Naval Reserve, which was soon to be brought up to something like 25,000 men, was the extreme number the Admiralty were likely to obtain out of the merchant service. Those who had looked into this matter very carefully estimated that the maximum number of British seamen, excluding Lascars, to be found in merchant ships would not exceed at the outside 40,000.


said from an estimate made by a very competent gentleman who took the greatest interest in these matters at the last shipowners' conference in London. His estimate of the number of British-born seamen in British merchant ships was 40,000. We had obtained in the Royal Naval Reserve almost the maximum that it was possible to obtain from the Mercantile Marine, and even that number, should they be taken by the Admiralty, would undoubtedly greatly cripple the Mercantile Marine in case of war. It was quite true that the available number of men for Reserves in the Mercantile Marine were steadily diminishing, and our merchant service, as at present constituted, was no longer a school for the training of seamen. There were a few boys carried in some of the steamers but they were comparatively few, and whatever nursery there was for the youths of to-day was to be found in the coasting trade, and in the few and fast diminishing number of sailing ships left. When this question of manning the Reserves was brought before the Manning Committee they ventured to make a suggestion, one of the few unanimous suggestions that came from that Committee, that it would be desirable for the Admiralty to establish a larger number of boys' training ships at different ports, then give the boys one or two years' training on those ships, and then if it did not suit the Admiralty to engage the boys immediately they were trained for vessels in the Navy, they might be allowed to engage for short voyages in merchant ships, with the right to call upon them at any time they might be required for the Navy. The First Lord had alluded to a suggestion that bonuses should be allowed to shipowners for training boys, but he had never heard that put forward by any representative shipowner as coming from the class, but, speaking generally, the feeling of shipowners was that if a reliable class of British seamen were to be trained and brought up for employment in British ships, clearly the only way would be to establish training ships at different ports at public expense, giving the public service a claim upon them when they became seamen. The First Lord remarked upon the large number of foreign seamen employed in British merchant ships, and he suggested that it might be the question of wages that influenced this, but that was not so. The wages paid to foreign seamen were just the same as the wages paid to British seamen. Foreigners who came to this country received a much higher rate of pay than they received in vessels of their own country, and the fact was they were more amenable to discipline, more sober and better conducted than the average of British seamen to be found in our ports. Why it was so he did not, know, but it was the fact, and as ship-owning was a commercial undertaking, shipowners were not to be blamed if they selected the best men they could find for the working of their ships. He turned to another point, and the references of the right hon. Baronet to the comparative position of England in regard to battleships. As compared with foreign countries the figures furnished to the House, and the statements made with the Estimates amply justified a feeling of satisfaction that we are to-day holding an excellent comparative position, and when the contemplated battleships were laid down we should hold a very good position. Great, Britain has 45 battleships ready against, a total of 39 of the two Powers of whom so much had been said. Then we have seven on the stocks as against six of the two Powers, we have three launched, and they have five. But when he turned to the question of celerity in building them, he found that those vessels we had on the stocks were likely to be available for service much sooner than the vessels in course of construction by our rivals. Of the three last battleships added to our Fleet, the Magnificent, laid own in 1893, was completed in 1895, the Prince George, laid down in 1894, was completed in 1896, and the Victorious, laid down in 1894, was completed in 1896. These ships took between two and three years to construct, and their average tonnage was 14,900. Compare with these the three last vessels added to the French Navy. The Carnot was laid down in 1891 and was not completed until 1896, the Martel laid clown in 1891 was completed in 1896, and the same time in the same years was occupied in building the Jauréguibery. The average tonnage of these ships was 10,380, as against the average 14,900 of the British ships, and they were between five and six years in building. The result reflected great credit on our dockyard administration and the satisfactory change introduced by his noble Friend (Lord G. Hamilton). When administration was spoken of credit should be given where it was due, and the House should know that the country got good value for its money. The Prince George was built at Portsmouth, and cost, including £150,000 for indirect charges, £901,000. The Victorious, built at Chatham, cost, including indirect charges, £891,000, and the Hannibal, built at Pembroke, always a cheap yard, cost £872,000. These were satisfactory illustrations of dockyard work and the advantage of quick building. Sister ships to these, the Mars and Jupiter, built by contract, cost £896,000 and £895,000 respectively. One other remark, for which he claimed the First Lord's attention. The right hon. Gentleman had given some interesting figures as regards results obtained with the new types of boilers adopted to a large extent for vessels in the Navy. The Powerful on her 30 hours' trial burned 453 tons of coal. Given the indicated power of the vessel and translating that indicated power and comparing it with the first mercantile steamers of the day, he found that the merchant vessel would have burned 310 tons. Taking the weights of the boilers of the Powerful and comparing them with the power given as indicated by the boilers, and with the results obtained by the best mercantile vessels, he found the weight of the boilers in the merchant vessels was precisely the same as that of the boilers in the Powerful. Therefore, from the point of view of consumption, this vessel was evidently consuming a very considerable quantity of coal. Probably, when they arrived at Vote 8, and were dealing with the matters connected with the Building Vote, the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give them some further information as regarded the introduction of this patent. He felt quite certain that the Estimate, as presented, would give general satisfaction, and he, for one, did not share in the slightest degree in the anxiety as to the sufficiency and strength of the British. Navy to cope with any reasonable combination of Powers that might be brought against us.

remarked that the right hon. Baronet who had last spoken had referred to the water-tube boilers as being still in an experimental stage. There used to be a good deal of controversy on the subject, but now there appeared to be an absence of criticism as to these new boilers. He thought, therefore, the House would be disposed to agree that they had got beyond the experimental stage, and, for his part, he considered that the water-tube boilers might be pronounced a success. The First Lord of the Admiralty had referred to the necessity of maintaining a reserve of ships as well as a reserve of men, but, in reply to a right hon. Gentleman on the Opposition side of the House, he said it would not be the policy of the Admiralty to mobilise all those ships at once. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean that those ships were to remain in the harbours without crews, or that they would be kept close at hand in the Channel or somewhere else? He did not believe public opinion would support such a policy as that—that we should have these ships, on which the country hall spent so much money, lying idly by without munitions or men. ["Hear, hear!"] It might be a good theoretical policy, but if war were to break out it could not be maintained for long, because there was very little doubt that the Power or Powers with whom we were at war would make a stupendous effort and put every available force which they could command on the sea; and, of course, we should have to follow suit. Proceeding with the First Lord's statement, he noticed that there was a proposal to reduce the shipbuilding Vote this year. An explanation was offered as to why that was necessary, viz., that the expenditure had been anticipated and provided for in the Vote of last year. But there was no guarantee that it would necessitate the discharge of a large number of men, because the wages Vote was reduced by £113,000, and the number of the reduction would be 1,600.

pointed out that the reduction would be chiefly in the number of men put on for special service last year.

was aware that a number of men were put on last year to meet the high pressure under special contract, but that would only meet the case to a limited extent. Many men had already been discharged. What he wanted to see avoided was a return to that mischievous policy of hot and cold blasts which had been so much condemned in drat House in recent years. He remembered in 1887, the month before Christmas, the number of men discharged at Portsmouth and elsewhere was so large that the municipalities had the utmost difficulty in knowing how to deal with them. He did not want to see a return to that state of things; and he would suggest that these discharges could be obviated very much if preference were given by the Government in the way of employment to their own workmen. The building yards of the country naturally expected a share of the work; but when it came to a, question of large reduction of labour he thought the Government should first see that their own yards were fully occupied. Although he was aware the Government was going to give Devonport the fitting out of a battleship and a cruiser, he would suggest that there was room for another gunboat. They were going to build this year four gunboats, all of which were going into contract yards. He had made inquiries, and there seemed to be a general impression that one of those gunboats should be given to Devonport. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) smiled. He did not want to see those whom he, represented out of employment.

I was smiling at the accuracy of the hon. Gentleman's information.

I am much complimented, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear it in mind. [Laughter.] Passing from construction, he referred to the question of the personnel. The right hon. Gentleman admitted a shortage on the 1st of January of 1,400 men. Supplemental information showed that that shortage had already considerably diminished, and the First Lord contemplated that before the end of the year the whole, number voted would be made up. He, however, rather doubted that, especially in view of the right hon. Gentleman's admission that some difficulty had been experienced in obtaining the necessary number of engine room artificers and artisans, owing to the revival of the shipbuilding trade. But this was no new difficulty; it was a difficulty that had harrassed the Admiralty for years, and it was a matter of general discussion in the engineering profession that the Admiralty found it very difficult indeed to get skilled artificers and artisans, but the Admiralty never seemed to care to confess what was the real reason. It had been pointed out to them repeatedly in that House, and by members of the engineering profession, that until they opened out better prospects, as regarded pay and status, to these skilled artificers they would never succeed in inducing men to throw up the freedom of private employment and subject themselves to the discipline of the Royal Navy. Take the engine room artificers alone. The Government proposed to add 265 engine room artificers this year. But if rumour could be trusted they were already 100 short of these men, and they could not get them. It was true the Admiralty had made one step in advance in giving these men warrant rank; but he was afraid even that concession would not enable them to keep pace wit h heir engineering requirements. The hon. Member for Gateshead had pointed out that these men expected to have a prospect opened to them of becoming engineer officers. Why should they not? ["Hear, hear!"] They possessed all the qualifications necessary; they were taken on for temporary service in that capacity, and they were entitled to the rank, not alone by their qualifications but by the nature of the responsibilities that they undertook. These men were frequently in sole control of small ships. [The FIRST Lord of the ADMIRALTY, dissented]. They are competent to be in charge and they are in charge of the machinery of gunboats up to two thousand horse power. At all events they were always in charge of the machinery of torpedo boats, there was no engineer on board at all. They were the engineers, of torpedo boats and by the Admiralty Order when they were so in charge they were styled chief engineers, so that the Admiralty took advantage of these men's qualifications but would only give them temporary rank as chief engineers although on ordinary occasions they were regarded merely as artisans. Therefore he said again if they wanted their engineering force to be brought to the point which the country expected, they would have to open up a better avenue and prospect of promotion to the men. ["Hear, hear!"] The same necessity existed with regard to naval shipwrights. There had been questions put in the House with reference to the menial duties these man were called upon to perform and the replies received were very unsatisfactory. The Secretary to the Admiralty said among other timings that it was not considered either necessary or desirable to treat shipwrights in any exceptional manner. ["Hear, hear!"] These men were not asking to be treated in an exceptional manner. ["Hear, hear!"] They asked to be treated on the same footing as men of similar trades were treated when they joined the Navy. In Government establishments shipwrights and fitters passed the same Civil Service examination, but when they entered the Navy the shipwright entered as a leading seaman and was subjected to work derogatory to his status as a first-class mechanic. He had to mess with the ordinary seamen and stokers, to clean the mess, to cook the mess and so on. These were not the occupations of a skilled mechanic, and the reason the Admiralty could not get these men was because there was a general boycott against the Navy throughout the whole country. ["Hear, hear!"] There was a general boycott against the Admiralty by the Trade Unions of the country and there was hardly a shipwright who would enter their service until the rating was improved, ["Hear, hear!"] He told the House this plainly. He had no personal interest in it, but he was perfectly certain that the demand of these men was a fair one. Why should not the shipwrights in Government yards rank precisely the same as time fitters? He was admitted to be a skilled workman, but when he entered the naval service he was given an inferior rating which he would not continue to accept. During the last six months the Government had been doing its utmost to induce 100 men to enter their service, with the result that they had only got two or perhaps three; and he was convinced they would never get the men they required until they improved their rating and status. With regard to the stokers, that had always been the weakest branch of the service and would remain the weakest so long as the Admiralty treated the men as they were treated now. They were now proposing to add two thousand more stokers. He had not the least doubt they would get the number but what about the quality?

said when he visited the dockyard he had himself inspected the stokers and was struck with their remarkably good physique.

said this was a very old standing joke in the naval yards. When the First Lord came round these men were specially prepared and selected for his inspection. [Laughter.] The Secretary to the Admiralty in the late Administration used to make the same statement that these stokers were men of remarkable physique. Of course, when he went to the dockyard they got a collection ready for him as they got a collection ready for the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord.

said that could not have been the case, because he stopped the men as they were going home to dinner and had them drawn up.

Then you must have accidentally hit upon a very good collection. [Laughter.] For his own part, continued the hon. Member, he went for three weeks with the naval manœuvres, and the engineers frequently spoke to him of the weakness of this branch of the service—the young stokers of poor physique who would not be able to bear the strain of stoking for a long period of fast steaming, which would often be necessary in time of war. These men got 1s. 8d. per day. How could they expect to get good men of high physique to leave the plough even to enter the Navy for 1s. 8d. a day? More than that, these men were denied privileges which were given to the seamen in the way of inducements to re-engage and many other things. If the Government wanted to get the best material available, they must be prepared to treat the men well and give them opportunities of improving their status. [Cheers.]


said it appeared to him that the Government had made an important step in advance with regard to the material and personnel of the Fleet. But it required 99,232 men to man the Fleet, and the increase of 6,000 would bring up the number of men in the Fleet nominally to 100,000 men; but in reality there were only about 80,000 men ready to man the Fleet. He thought it was necessary to consider the question on a broader basis. The only way to find the necessary number of men for the Fleet was to have an adequate and large reserve of sailors. Last year, when they asked questions on the subject, the First Lord rather poohpoohed the subject, and when the Municipality of Liverpool approached him he rather told them to mind their own busi- ness, but he had since considered the question, and he now made a step which was to some extent an important step in advance. The present proposal in regard to men who had served 10 or 12 years continuously in the Navy, and were discharged with a good character, would no doubt act as an inducement. Of the men who left the Fleet in 1895–6, there were no less than 6,028. Of those, only 1,372 were pensioned. Considering that they had 5,000 or 6,000 men every year leaving the service, who did not join the Reserve, it seemed to him that there must be a great, leakage, and it was very desirable that they should in every possible way guard against this. He would suggest that the Admiralty should offer further inducements, besides giving this deferred pension at the age of 60. A very large number of men left the Fleet after ten years' service without pensions, and to such men a small bounty of £1 or £2 a year might be given if they would promise to remain in the Reserve. The present mode with regard to the Reserve was not sufficiently elastic. His hon. Friend opposite would be aware that the French Fleet was very largely manned by Breton and Norman sailors, and he believed we should be wise by adopting a somewhat similar course. What could be easier or more satisfactory than to recruit from 2,000 to 5,000 men as a Reserve from, Canada, in which colony and in Newfoundland there was a hardy race of sailors and fishermen. The same principle might be extended to Cape Colony, and from time to time a short training might be given to the men so recruited. The same might be done with the Australian Colonies, and in this way they could easily raise a force of from 8,000 to 10,000 useful and efficient sailors to assist us in manning the Fleet in time of emergency. Moreover, in India, among the coolie boys, there were men who would be able to act as a reserve, of firemen in the Fleet in case of necessity. Another way by which they might add to the Reserve of the seamen for the Fleet would be by giving some encouragement to shipowners to have on board their ships a sufficient and adequate number of British sailors and seamen. It would be a very serious thing for us in time of war if our Mercantile Marine was so largely manned by foreigners as it was at the present time. There was no part of the Empire that would suffer so much if its food supply were cut off, than would London; and as London was to a large extent dependent for its food supply on foreign countries, he thought that he, as a London Member, was justified in calling attention to the matter. It would be a good thing if there were more training ships, so that more boys might be trained for the Navy after they left the Board Schools. It was certainly the fact that we could build our ships more cheaply and more quickly than could the foreigner. He inclined to the opinion that they could combine the two systems of long and short service. He pointed out that while the total sum which was spent on the Reserve of the Navy amounted to the very inconsiderable sum of £230,000, we spent on the Reserve of the Army very nearly two millions a year—including the militia, yeomanry, volunteers, and first and second class Army Reserve. He thought the Admiralty had taken a small step in the forward direction, and perhaps they would still further increase the number of the men as years went on.

On the return of Mr. SPEAKER, after the usual interval,

said that he spoke not as a naval expert, but as one having sonic knowledge of seafaring men. The First Lord of the Admiralty regretted that it was impossible to get men enough for the Navy and the Reserve; and he knew men who had served 10 and 20 years in the Navy and were only too anxious to leave it. When a seaman joined the Navy he had the idea that the Admiralty would provide him with food and clothing; but once on board, he found that these promises were not carried out. The present scale of provisions, which had been in force for 30 or 40 years was insufficient, and a large amount of the seaman's wages had to be spent in food. The seaman was provided with a pint of cocoa, a pound of biscuits, 1¼lb. of salt meat, and a pint of tea a day, with half-a-pound of flour three times a week. Then as to uniform, when a man joined a ship his kit was examined, and generally found unsatisfactory according to the ideas of the Commander, with the result that a new outfit had to be purchased out of the man's wages. Then, when he joined another ship, the new Commander's ideas would be different, and that would involve another outfit. If the Admiralty dealt more liberally with the men in respect of food and clothing, they would stop longer in the service. The First Lord was mistaken in supposing that there would be little difficulty in calling up the men in the Reserve, who would be scattered all over the world. When war was declared the wages of seamen would go up, and men serving in American vessels on the American coast would have a reluctance to respond to the call of the Admiralty. Too long the British seamen in the Mercantile Marine had been allowed to decrease in numbers. At present, out of a total of 240,000 men employed in the Mercantile Marine, including fishermen, only 40,000 were of British birth. The right hon. Member for the Ormskirk Division had said the reason was that the British sailor was a drunkard, and untrustworthy. That was not true. The British sailor was a sober, intelligent, and hardworking man, and would compare with any other class of working men in the country. In the Donald Currie line the foreigners employed were not one per cent.; in the White Star, the Cunard, and the Union lines the same conditions obtained; and these companies got the pick of the British sailors, because they paid proper wages and gave good treatment. It was true that when men were signed on in an English port, the shipowner paid the same wages to the British seaman and the foreigner. But the foreigners were employed to cut down wages, and many crews were signed on in Continental ports where the wages were often 10s., 15s., and 20s. a month less than in England. The reason why shipowners employed foreigners was that they could get them at a cheaper rate of wages. Then there were close on 30,000 Lascars employed on ships belonging to the United Kingdom. They were told that these Lascars were British seamen, but would the First Lord employ them on warships? He was glad to notice that some change had been made in the conditions of enrolment for foreign service, though he thought it would be found that in one or two instances dissatisfaction would be felt in connection with it. He noticed that it was intended to dispense with the two present ratings in the Reserve. First-class men were supposed to be seamen with five years' service and upwards in the merchant service, and the second-class were fishermen and ordinary seamen, with at least two years' sea service. But now, the first-class seaman was to be in practically the same rating as the ordinary seaman, and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he thought he would get any large number of men, who considered themselves qualified merchant seamen, to join the Reserve as ordinary seamen in the same rating as men with one or two years' service? He quite approved, however, of the proposed six months' training on board a naval ship. He also noticed a very good change, and that was that the men who had served 10 or 12 years' in the Royal Navy were to be allowed to join the Reserve, and after 20 years' service in all were to be entitled to a pension. But the pension, he thought, was too small, and did not begin till the age of 60. The trouble with merchant seamen was to live to the age of 60, and, therefore, very few would receive any benefit from this. He would like to see the Lords of the Admiralty a little more generous, increase the pension to £20 a year, and reduce the age to 45 or 50. If that were done he believed a larger number of men would remain in the Navy. He was told a very large number of men deserted from our warships when in American ports, and that in 1893, when a warship was lying in an American port over 100 men deserted from her in one night. They did so because they got better wages and better treatment in the American Navy. He thought the Admiralty might well afford a little better food. If a man was required to fight he must be well fed and well paid. The Government paid every year to the P. and O. Company a large sum for subsidised cruisers, yet the company were allowed to carry Lascars, even in transports, while there were plenty of Reserve men in want of employment, and they ought to have the preference, at least, on transports.


agreed that the age at which pensions became payable ought to be reduced. He believed a man coming into the Reserve was better pleased with the prospect of a smaller pension at the age of 50 than of a larger one at the age of 60. This question was of much greater importance now than it was last year, because the right hon. Gentleman was going to try to get something more out of the Naval Reserve. The right hon. Gentleman was going to try to get the Naval Reserve Men to serve on board ships. That was a step of which he approved; but if it was to succeed they must give the men some extra inducement. Therefore he thought the time had arrived when they should give these men their pension at 50, making it, if necessary, somewhat smaller than now. As regards the food, he could not agree with the hon. Member. He did not believe the wide world afforded such good food as the Admiralty supplied to the sailors in the Navy. He was acquainted with all sorts of food and cookery, and he knew nothing to equal the ship's biscuit and the ship's cocoa. There was nothing that he himself ate with so much pleasure. The sailor "took up savings," as it was called, for a large portion of his food, with which he provided himself with the leg of pork and the rabbit pie which he so loved. Judging from appearance, he would say that the sailor was over, rather than under, fed. With regard to the fanciful changes in uniform sometimes insisted on, he agreed that when a man had got his rig it was rather hard that it should have to be remade because a particular captain did not agree with the cut of the cap.


said he believed the grievance existed still. The hon. Member for Dundee had complained that the Estimates had been delayed, and then made a speech, no part of which touched any one of the Estimates at all. The hon. Member did indeed promise that when he came to the Vote for the new yacht he would vote against the Sovereign of the greatest maritime country in the world having a yacht to go to sea in. He did not think the hon. Member would find many Members to follow him. With regard to the question of Crete, on which the hon. Member touched, he would only say that he was surprised to find him reproach the First Lord with having undertaken the defence of the British Admirals, who were under the orders of the Admiralty. When the Admirals were attacked, as one was the other day when his word was questioned, and that of a correspondent at Athens preferred, ha thought the First Lord would be wanting in his duty if he did not take up their defence. He could only suppose the hon. Member for Dundee did not mean to undertake anybody's defence, unless, perhaps, the defence of those 100 Members who thought it becoming to send a telegram to Greece recommending resistance to the Concert, and to Her Majesty's ships as part of the Concert? Coming to the main subject of the Debate, be complained that the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean and the school of which he was, if not the founder, at any rate one of the ornaments, invariably assumed that in the next war we should have against us a great combination of the Powers of Europe—France, Germany, and Russia. He did not believe it. He could not conceive any combination, which, in the present or any probable aspect of politics, would include France and Germany against England. Germany would have to give back Alsace and Lorraine before that could happen. Another fallacious assumption was that the war was certain to break out without any warning at all. He believed it was impossible in the nature of thins that fleets could be prepared, political combinations brought together, and political strategy carried out without our becoming aware of it, and having adequate and fair time to prepare ourselves for eventualities. Therefore, these two assumptions could not be entertained. What they had to prepare for was, at the outside, a combination of two Powers. The right hon. Baronet compared ships; but they could not compare ship for ship, or ton for ton, as between two nations. The whole value of a ship depended upon the men in her, the training they had got, and even above and beyond that, upon the naval system of which the ship was a part. Unless these things were taken into account, and much else besides—the capacity of manœuvring at a short distance, the power of serving your guns with ammunition, the very speed at which your turret or barbette revolved, the amount of time you were at sea—they could not reduce ships to what he might call a common denominator, so as to make any fair comparison between them. In these respects and in ninny others, the British Fleet stood prominent. It was said that this country was not building ships at the present time. As a matter of policy we should not as quickly as we could, but as slowly as we could. We coal build a battleship or a cruiser faster than any other Power. The improvements in marine machinery, in armour plating, and in all that went to make up a good man-of-war were increasing enormously day by day, and consequently the longer we postponed building our ships, so long as we got them in time, the better a ship we should get. And we could afford to postpone the ship longer than other countries, because we could build it quicker. The right hon. Gentleman, in dealing with the number of men, said that there were 36 per cent. of foreigners in the Mercantile Marine, and the right hon. Baronet told the House that there were only 40,000 British' seamen in the Mercantile Marine. [Several HON. MEMBERS: "Able-bodied."] In the Return of the Board of Trade, dated April 1896, he found that the total number of persons employed in the sailing and steam vessels registered under Part I. belonging to the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands, excluding vessels employed on rivers and inland navigation and yachts, was 240,486 persons. Of those 32,335 were foreigners. [Sir C. DILKE: "Stewardesses," and laughter.] The right hon. Baronet voted for Female Suffrage, and yet he wanted the House to believe that the stewardesses were not British subjects. [Laughter, and "They are not seamen."] There were also 28,077 Lascars who were British subjects. In addition to this the Return gave the number of fishermen and boys resident within the limits of the port as 73,090; persons other than regular fishermen occasionally employed in fishing, 41,230; total, 114,320. If they added the fishermen to the merchantmen there was a total of 354,000 persons, and the percentage of foreigners was not 36 per cent., but only 9 per cent. The Board of Trade Returns, moreover, excluded a large number of seafaring persons; they only took note of one crew, they excluded yachts and the beachmen—some of the best seamen in the world, and they excluded all those employed on inland rivers and navigation. If, therefore, they made a very moderate allowance for those thus excluded, the grand total of seafaring, water-going, web-footed persons belonging to these islands was close upon half a million. It was very unfair to say that the Reserves had very little training and discipline. The Reserve men were extremely well trained. The right hon. Gentleman compared our Reserves with those of France; but there were only 120,000 men in France all told, and 40,000 of these were men over 40 years of age—an age at which we got rid of a good many of our sailors. Those were men of an average of four years' training; but the training might have been 10 or 15 years ago, so that a certain proportion of these men were seamen in buckram. As to the training of the men, he asserted that 100,000 untrained men were not worth 20,000 trained men for sea service. In his opinion for some years past the Admiralty had been pursuing a mistaken policy. They had been reducing the time of training while increasing the amount of training. It was said that there was a difficulty in finding men for the Navy. There was no difficulty, however, in finding boys, though there was difficulty in finding accommodation for them in the ordinary training-ship. He thought that the training-ships should be doubled, as well as the training brigs, and that the boy, instead of being asked to pass through the brig in six weeks, should be allowed 13, 14, or 20 weeks to learn his duties. The same was true of the Training Squadron. All seamen ought to pass through; and it, as well as the training brigs, ought to be doubled; and even then, when they had done that, they would barely have given the men the training they ought to have in order to make them useful seamen in the Navy. In regard to the training of officers, he contended that the Admiralty had done wrong to give up the Britannia, and especially that a great mistake had been made in raising the age. Considering all that a boy had to learn and do before he came to the rank of lieutenant, they ought rather to have lowered the age. It was said that this was done in order to get boys from the public schools; but, in his opinion, boys from public schools were of no use in the Navy. At the public schools boys got accustomed to luxury, and they were not at all inclined to sleep on a hammock over a chest, and to live for eight or nine years without any kind of privacy—living, sleeping, and dressing in public. This raising of the age, too, gave the crammer another year in which to do his work, mostly mischievous. Finally, with regard to Greenwich. At Greenwich he believed the Navy possessed the most complete and admirable educational establishment that the world knows, not even excepting Oxford or Cambridge, or any foreign university; yet the important course for sub-lieutenants at Greenwich, which had been eight or nine months, was now cut down to two, which was nothing less than absurd. He hoped the First Lord would give attention to the mistakes in training to which he had called attention. He apologised to the Committee for detaining them so long, and he could only plead that the extreme interest he took in the Navy, and above all, in the training of the men, had induced him to make these remarks.

joined in the expressions of esteem for the First Lord of the Admiralty, and in acknowledgement of the services he had rendered to the country in relation to the Navy, and not only now, but so far back as 20 or 25 years ago, when he was at the head of the Naval Administration. With regard to the present naval policy, however, he could not but think that the proposed discharge of 1,500 or 1,600 men was a great mistake, and was a very odd way of encouraging men to come into Government employment. He would mention one thing, and that was the excessive amount of overtime in the dockyards. At the present moment the Admiralty were working their hands at overtime to the extent of eight or nine days in each week. That was the case at Portsmouth Dockyard, and he could tell the right hon. Gentleman that the men did not at all approve of that method of employment. It was contrary to the practice of the best employers throughout the kingdom. The Government should be an example to the employers. This was the result of want of forethought and foresight on the part of the Admiralty, and it had the effect of keeping a large number of men out of employment. ["Hear, hear!"] The thing was done for the purpose of balancing the accounts near the end of the year, or spending the money within the year. This system delayed rather than hastened the building of ships, and the result of it was in Portsmouth to keep some 500 men out of employment who had been attracted to Portsmouth in search of employment, many of them brought there at the invitation of the Government itself. This was the first discharge of hands in the dockyards that had been proposed for some years past, and he hoped that it would be the last. ["Hear, hear!"] Then, as to another matter of great importance, the Admiralty ought to increase the number of training vessels, because, now the Mercantile Marine had decided to do away with the apprentice system; and therefore it was the duty of the Government to provide training ships for the youths of the country who had an inclination for the sea, and so provide the ships of the Navy with well-trained seamen. Then there was another matter he wished to call attention to, and that was the treatment of petty officers, who were, he contended, entitled to the honours and advantages so widely bestowed upon men of the same rank in the Army and the Marine forces. They were most valuable servants of the Crown. Their claims had been pressed upon successful Administrations, but with no satisfactory result. He knew of what he was speaking, because they had in his constituency some 8,000 of these petty officers, more or less identified with the port; he knew their views, and he could say that they were grievously dissatisfied and discontented. All he asked for them was that they should be put, in regard to pay and pension, upon the same scale as like officers in the Army and the Marines. They claimed that their training and their services entitled them to like treatment. They were the backbone of the Service, and although during the last three or four years their case had been brought before Parliament, nothing had yet been done to improve their condition. He believed that if the First Lord of the Admiralty gave their case his careful consideration he would do what he could to remove the discontent which existed among this valuable section of the Service. Then as to the stokers in the Navy, their case was a very bad one. They had gone over the country touting for men to become stokers in the Navy. The right hon. Gentleman shook his head, but the statement was nevertheless true. They were brought from the Midlands, because they could not find men to act as stokers at the naval ports, and what was the reason? The main reason was that they did not encourage a high class of men into the Service. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman was not aware of the difference between the pay of a stoker and of a seaman. A chief leading stoker in the Navy in 1865 received 2s. 5d. a day, and to-day he only received 2s. 6d. There had been no gradual promotion and encouragement in that branch of the service during all these years, notwithstanding that in that time they had had a large number of important, delicate and responsible duties put upon them. That was the secret of the dislike the men had to enter the service. They would get good men, who would put themselves to the training for the regular employment which was afforded, if the Admiralty only gave encouragement to them. Then another grievance was that they did not get the additional 2d. per day on re-engaging after ten years. Why should a seamen receive the 2d. and not the stoker, who, after ten years' service, had become an essential portion of the crew of a vessel. They were refused, too, the 3d. a day granted to deck petty officers after four years' rating. These were all differences which had existed year after year, and which tended unquestionably to the discredit of the Navy in the eyes of men who would otherwise be glad to enter it. It was the method and the system which the Government persisted in following in regard to this class of public servants that brought about the whole difference. He appealed to the First Lord that he would give his best consideration to these claims, and distinguish this year from all other years by showering benefits upon two very deserving classes of men.

Marine Garrison In Naval Bases

rose to call attention to the training and organisation of the Navy in relation to the use and application of Marine forces, and to move:—

"That it is desirable to place such Royal Marine forces (artillery and infantry) at the naval bases and defended coaling ports abroad as are required for the general service of the naval stations, thereby relieving a corresponding number of Royal Artillery and Line now quartered at those places."
He said this seemed a very simple Resolution, but it really raised the whole question of the principles of Imperial defence. The subject might be approached from three points of view—that of general policy, that of naval necessity, and that of military expediency. The general policy was founded, and must be founded, upon the freedom of their Fleet, the security of their bases, and the mobility of their Army. The Motion distinctly dealt with naval bases, and the present position was that the Admiralty washed its hands of all responsibility with regard to the defence of the bases of the Fleet. [Cries of "No!"] He should be very glad if it could be shown that that was not the present policy. He thought the First Lord would agree with him in this proposition—that the defence of naval bases must be independent of the direct defence by the sea-going fleets or squadrons. That being agreed, they came to the question of the local defence of these bases, which was entirely treated now as a purely military question. Upon this point he would advance another proposition which he thought his right hon. Friend would not deny—namely, that whereas formerly, and even until recently, the defence of a port or maritime position might be considered a purely military matter, now every day and every hour, the development of naval warfare was making the defence more and more aquatic. His right hon. Friend did not deny that.

said in that case he would read what the present Secretary of State for India said when he was First Lord of the Admiralty. Speaking in that House on the 2nd of March 1891, as head of the Admiralty, he said—

"As science develops and the range of guns increased the passive defence of the stations becomes more and more an aquatic defence."
Therefore, at all events, he had the authority of a former First Lord that his proposition was right. The days were gone by, under modern conditions of warfare, when fleets attempted to attack forts. The torpedo and the insidious night attacks of small craft of the torpedo class necessitated the defence of ports being more and more aquatic than it ever was before. That being so it was quite evident that they could not ignore naval considerations in the defence of ports. The utility and value of the port was for them the security of free ingress and egress for their ships, and although the defence of the port must not and ought not directly to depend on the operations of the sea-going fleet, they could not adequately or really defend the port in its true sense unless they kept the offing clear. The defence of a naval base involved not merely the defence of the mouth of the port, for in order to preserve the utility of the port, naval means were required to keep as large an area as possible round that port clear. What was the value of a coaling station if only the local defence of the port was provided for, and a hostile force in the offing out of the range of your guns was capturing your colliers preventing coal supplies coming into port? Without labouring the point, it could not be denied that the defence of a port in its local interests was becoming more and more aquatic, and you could not get rid of naval responsibility for keeping the offing clear. The effect of this was apparent in the Army Estimates, they were becoming more and more aquatic in character. This involved duplex arrangements and all the inconveniences of dual control and dual administration. What was the object and reason for having these ports defended on naval stations? That the Fleet might find there supplies necessary for its maintenance? And who was responsible for getting the supplies there? The Fleet. It was a naval responsibility, and yet it was treated as a military question, in which the War Office was concerned. For the oversea supplies of the garrisons from home the Navy was responsible, and yet the cost was borne on the Army Estimates. Look at the effect of this policy under the head of military expediency. He would not go into it at length, for that would be irregular, but to show the effect he took the great ocean area called the North American and West Indies Station. The Admiralty rightly said that in this great area of the Atlantic the bases at Bermuda, Halifax, St. Lucia, and Jamaica must be protected, and what was the consequence of looking at this as a military question? There was one battalion at Bermuda, and, owing to naval necessities, this was separated into two parts, thirteen miles apart. It was best explained by following a battalion inn its tour of service round the station. It was moved to Halifax and then separated nine miles apart. It then proceeded from Halifax to the West Indies and when it got there it was again broken up into fragments, three-eighths being at Jamaica and five-eighths distributed between Barbadoes and St. Lucia, hundreds of miles, and in one instance a thousand miles separating them. This was due to treating the defence of naval bases as a military question. When the stress of war came and a field force required, the condition of this force was that the officers had never had a chance of exercising their men in a battalion, it was monstrous, there was no other word for it. The Admiralty, it was said, were not responsible, but the taxpayers had not separate naval and military pockets, and in the interests of the taxpayers the expensive and inefficient system should be put an end to. The total regular military force distributed among the North American bases, including artillery and engineers, did not in the aggregate amount to more than the equivalent of 35 companies. There were, he knew, the equivalent of 14 companies of colonial forces. The army being adapted not for this work, but organised in a different way, when it was broken up into detachments the staff was enormous. For these 35 companies there were two Lieutenant-Generals—one was Governor of Bermuda, and came into the Colonial Vote, two Brigadier-Generals, one Colonel, one Assistant Adjutant-General, two Military Secretaries, eight Deputy Assistant Adjutant-Generals, two Military Secretaries, two Aides-de-camp, one Staff-Captain; then there was the Medical Staff, the Ordnance Corps, and the Pay Departments. In the simple question of hospitals these four naval bases involved a charge for medical officers and army surgeons and subordinates of £12,000 a year, and in the Navy Estimates the charge for naval surgeons at these places was £6,000. By duplication they found that the money of the taxpayer was running away. Why? Because they insisted upon keeping up a system which was obsolete. The total cost of the staff for the equivalent of 35 companies of regular troops was £31,000. ["Hear, hear."] The country had been more or less agitated lately owing to the proposal of the War Office to try a new experiment with the flower of our infantry. Why was the experiment being made? To meet the naval demands. What was the Admiralty doing? There was the equivalent of two battalions of Marine Infantry in squads in empty ships at Plymouth, Portsmouth, and Chatham. They were deteriorating day by day. What was the duty of the men? It was principally to pull ashore the warrant officers who commanded the ships when they wanted to visit their wives and families. When they were not so engaged they were housemaiding the ships—polishing, blackleading, and whitewashing—or shifting naval stores about the dockyards. Why, when the War Office were experimenting with the Guards, should the Admiralty be deteriorating the Guards' rivals, the Marine Infantry, by treating them in this way? The standing Navy of England was a very modern institution; it was only begun to be created in 1853. So recently as 1853 there was a permanent list of naval officers, but there was no continuous service or permanent list of men. The Marines, however, originated so far back as the time of Admiral Blake. The 3rd Buffs and the Guards were the originators of the Marines, and for a hundred years the Navy relied for its nucleus of fighting men and discipline on the Line. Regiments of the Line were regularly embarked because the country neglected its seamen. It was found that the demands of the Navy were breaking up the Army organisation, and so a special force was created, and the special force was the Royal Marine Infantry. The fact was that now that the standing Navy was beginning to work the Admiralty hardly knew what to do with it. Why was it that originally the Navy relied on the Army? Because the country neglected its seamen. It only took seamen in a ship's commission and then turned them adrift. There were three great functions for which the Marine force was created. The first was to maintain the discipline of the ship. The second was that they should by their experience in the handling of arms incite the seamen to imitate them. These two reasons had in a standing Navy disappeared. The third reason which had survived was that it might be a reserve of the Navy and to enable the expansion of the Navy. Indeed he might say there was a fourth function, which was that in Naval operations there should be a mobile military force at the disposal of the admirals to seize and hold positions. That had been al ways necessary, and it was even more necessary now than it ever had been. He would come to the last ten years. What happened at Alexandria? After the bombardment of Alexandria there were those outrages and burnings which were the origin of the subsequent troubles. Why was that? It was because of the want of such a mobile force as he suggested. In the old days there was a mobile force at the back of the Admiral which was carried in the ships, and could be left at any given point to seize and hold a position, and the ships could then withdraw and the Fleet remained an active fighting force. They could not have this mobile force now carried in ships; there was no room for extra force; and when the force now had to be landed the ships were not complete fighting machines. He would entreat the House to weigh the importance of the meaning of that. Had there been a battalion of Marines at Malta or Gibraltar, the result would have been that after the bombardment of Alexandria part of the mobile force brought by the Admiral from the Marine battalions at Gibraltar and Malta could have been landed, and the whole consequences of that war would have been avoided. In 1884 there was a sudden need for troops at Suakim. The Admiralty telegraphed to Mediterranean Admiral: "Send your Marines on to Suakim." The Marines were sent on to Suakim, and having been withdrawn from the ships, the Mediterranean Fleet was inefficient as a fighting machine. That was a very serious matter. He now came to Crete, and he asked the House to consider the importance of providing this mobile force at stations for being used as the necessity arose. The Marines had been landed at Crete. It might be said that all other ships were doing the same as were their ships, but the fact remained that while these Marines were on shore, our vessels were not absolutely efficient fighting machines. This difficulty arose from the want of a mobile force at headquarters on the station. Had there been such a Marine force as he had indicated at head-quarters the Admiral could have distributed them as the occasion or the necessity required, but by landing the Marines they had deprived the ships of their full fighting capacity. He would like to grapple at once with an argument the Admiralty would bring forward that if they quartered this Marine force at the naval stations abroad they would then cease to be Marines. He would undertake to say that they could have 4,200 Marine Artillery and Infantry quartered at the naval stations abroad without interfering in the least with their sea-going efficiency. He took the number of 4,200 because there were 4,200 bluejackets in the Coastguard. These men were not under strict discipline of barrack life, they were scattered around their coasts, and they were part of the active Navy. They had a certain amount of drilling on shore to keep them efficient, but their main occupation in remote country districts was bucolic. His argument was that if they could keep 4,200 bluejackets absolutely efficient by quartering them on shore—with a period of ten days' drill and a participation in the autumn manœuvres of the Fleet—why could they not do the same with the Marines on naval stations abroad? What was the objection to such a system as he suggested? It would immediately give them the power of expansion that was desirable, it would be found not to be at all impossible of adoption, it would add to the efficiency of the Navy and Marines, and would certainly I add to the efficiency of their armaments. He wanted the Marines to be where their sea service training could be kept up and he would not for one moment wish to dissociate the Marines from the naval service. By carrying out this proposal they would save the enormous charge for the Army Transport Vote. Then he said that the total amount of service abroad must not exceed the service at home. While they were keeping 4,200 bluejackets permanently rooted to the soil, they were keeping their Marines perpetually floating on the sea. If his right hon. Friend looked into it he would find that they were misappreciating what the Marines were for. They were intended to allow of the expansion of the Navy, but they now used them up by keeping them always at sea. Under the present system the whole world outside the channel was relying on the forces at home for their reserves of men. He instanced Hong Kong as a nucleus of power. At Hong Kong there were about 1,600 regular troops, Royal Artillery and Line. There were distributed in the China Fleet some 600 or 700 Marines, artillery and infantry. If 1,800 Marine force were placed on the station, 1,200 on shore and 600 in the Fleet, at the disposal of the Admiral, he could by interchange give every Marine one year at sea and two years on shore, during his three years' service on the China station, all the great cost of Army transport being saved. He argued that such a system as he advocated would be found not to be difficult of adoption, while it would add to the efficiency of the Navy and Marines, and would certainly add to the efficiency of their armaments. ["Hear, hear!"] They were training the Marine Artillery officers at great expense, and the Admiralty would not use them. For 200 years the Marine service had rendered great service. If they looked into it they would find that they were misappreciating, what the Marines were for. The Admiralty were making no use of the highly-trained officers—it was only when these officers escaped from Admiralty control they were allowed a career. Major Borat Crete was a Marine Artillery officer; Captain Oldfield at Dongola was also. When Sir H. Kitchener was advancing to Dongola, who did he ask to support him? He telegraphed home for some Royal Marine Artillery, and he wanted more. Yet these were the men the Admiralty were wasting. There was no bad spirit in the Navy towards the Royal Marines, but it was felt the conditions under which the present system was originated had entirely changed. The Marines hall done their duty on every sea for 200 years, and had never failed. He appended to the First Lord of the Admiralty to use this service for the benefit of the Navy. The Admiralty could not go on pursuing its present policy of suppressing Marine officers without ruining the service which Lord St. Vincent, declared was the sheet anchor of England. [" Hear, hear."] The hon. Member concluded by moving his Resolution.


said that the naval bases referred to in the discussion were maintained almost entirely for purpose of securing the efficiency of the Navy, and it was only reasonable, right and proper that the defence of these stations should be undertaken by the Navy. It had been 1 said that if the Naval Commander-in-Chief had control over the garrisons of these ports, he might be tempted to withdraw a portion of them, in order to strengthen his force afloat. He himself could imagine nothing less likely to happen. An Admiral would be courting disaster to his fleet if he lost command of his dockyards and coaling stations. He might disembark men to strengthen the force on shore, but no Admiral would dream of risking, the capture of his base of operations by an enemy. It was said that the Marines were too valuable a force to be allotted to the duty proposed by the Resolution. He did not think there was any more important duty than that of securing the safety of the naval bases. It was so important that only picked troops, men who could be thoroughly relied on, ought to be employed. Some hon. Members thought the Marines would lose their distinctive characteristics if employed on shore as proposed. If anything they would increase in efficiency. They would be in constant touch with their comrades of the Fleet, and constantly employed in attending to torpedo defences at the various naval ports. Many of them were accustomed to boat work, and thoroughly adapted to the service proposed in the Resolution. As regarded the officers of the Royal Marines, he could only say that they were worthy of the men they commanded, and no higher praise could be awarded to any body of officers. But it must be and it was most discouraging to the officers of the Royal Marines to know that after going through a most careful and elaborate training there was no opening for them when they got to the senior ranks. There was work for Marine officers until they reached the rank of Lieut.-Colonel, but from that day onwards there was no proper scope for their energies. The adoption of the scheme suggested in the Resolution would remedy that grievance to a great extent, and give those officers whose zeal and ability no one could question a chance of distinguishing themselves in the higher ranks of their profession. This scheme would entail an increase of the Marine force. It was not nearly strong enough at present. At the headquarters at Plymouth there were only 22 men ready for embarkation, there were 300 more re-qualifying after a term of service, and there were 280 recruits. Whether the Resolution was adopted or not, it was absolutely necessary that the Marine force should be largely increased. It could be depended on as a Reserve for the Navy. The Mercantile Marine is unable to supply sufficient men to form an efficient Reserve for the Navy; and though the proposals of the First Lord of the Admiralty would materially improve the efficiency of the Reserves, he contended that it was of the utmost importance that the force of Marines should be largely increased. They would form a very important element in the disciplined force on board every ship that might be mobilised in time of war. A large increase in the number of Marines was absolutely essential, and he would therefore commend the Motion to the attention of the First Lord of the Admiralty.


said the question before them should be considered from a military as well as from a naval point of view. He maintained that the present system not only interfered with the efficiency of the Army, but that also as our Army was at present constituted we could not properly defend our coaling stations in the manner in which they should be defended. The present system was a marvellous anomaly. How was it possible for young men to be trained to act efficiently in the field with arms of precision when they were shut up in fortresses for years? The regiments were sometimes divided, and one portion of it was at one station, and the other at another station. There was a regiment at Bermuda which was split up into two portions, and the cost of the staff was upwards of £2,000 a year. Then the Liverpool regiment was distributed between Barbadoes and Jamaica, there being five companies at Barbadoes, and three at Jamaica. How could the colonel be responsible for the efficiency of these men? In order to keep up this regiment there was a staff which cost £5,000 a year. An even worse case was that of the Leicester regiment, part of which was at the Cape, and part at St. Helena. How could the commanding officer be responsible for the efficiency of that regiment? Was he to command them by cable? These boys were only half-trained before they were sent out, and how could they acquire efficiency when they were out there? At Hong Kong there was another battalion the staff of which cost nearly £4,000 a year, and at Singapore, purely a coaling station, there was another battalion in the same condition. Could anything more damaging to the efficiency of the Army be imagined? It was a ruinous system for the Army, and a ruinous system for the coaling stations. He would further point out that the difficulty associated with the linked battalion system, namely that of keeping up the strength of the battalion at home to correspond with the strength of the battalion abroad, would be removed if the defence of the coaling stations were given over to the Admiralty. The Government were about to make an experiment with the Guards. He confessed that the speech of the Under Secretary for War in support of that experiment, able though it was, had not convinced him in the least. [Laughter.] But the House decided to try the experiment. The duty of the three years' Guardsmen at Gibraltar would be to man the guns of the fortress, and the guns nowadays were not like the guns of years' ago into winch it was only necessary to ram a bag of powder and some shots.


Order, order! The remarks of the hon. Gentleman are hardly pertinent to the question, which is whether it is desirable to remove the duty of protecting coaling stations from the military to the Marines.


said his point was that young soldiers could not have the experience necessary for the manning of the guns of those fortresses, while the Marines, on account of their long services were well fitted for the work. The present Government had done great things for the Army and he hoped they would complete their good work by transferring from the military to the Marines the duty of garrisoning the coaling stations.

said that the reform proposed in the Resolution was one which he had advocated for years both inside and outside the House. He was sanguine enough to believe that its adoption was not far off, for experience had taught hint that when it was officially said that a thing ought not to be done and could not he done, it was very soon carried out. ["Hear, hear."] He remembered having heard it stated from the Treasury Bench that the Admiralty could not and should not make their guns or their gun carriages; but it was decided not long after that they should manufacture both. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling Burghs was a welcomed reinforcement to the ranks of those who supported this reform. He believed that the Secretary of State for India was also an advocate of the change. But, greatly as he welcomed the support of those right hon. Gentlemen, he based his advocacy of the reform on the plain ground of common sense. The Royal Marines were a body of 16,000 men, but the Board of Admiralty was exclusively composed of naval men. There was not one single representative of those 15,000 men upon the Board of Admiralty. Of course, they could not put out of sight the fact that there was a very natural desire on the part of the Admiralty not to overburden the already large Estimates. But, as had been already pointed out by his hon. Friend, it was the taxpayers of the country upon whom the burden of the Estimates must fall, and it was a mistake to allow the two Services who ought to work together to become rivals. It certainly was opposed to common sense that the present arrangements with regard to the Royal Marines should be allowed to continue. The case was very different in foreign countries. In France, for instance, the Infantry of Marines were charged with the defence of the fortresses of the seaports. He should like to know whether the Royal Marines were to perform that duty in this country; what encouragement was given to the officers of the Royal Marines? Did the House know how many of the officers of the Royal Marines held the position of General; why there was only one officer of the Royal Marines who had attained to that post, and he had been relegated to a desk at Whitehall? What was the use of offering to these men a career which was limited by a seat at a desk in Whitehall? What inducement did they hold out to such officers to make themselves capable of taking higher rank? It was not at all surprising that some of these officers should not have taken the necessary steps to qualify themselves for higher positions. He should like hon. Members to go on board of some of Her Majesty's ships in order to see what the Royal Marines were doing on them. They would find that they were literally doing nothing, and that they were practically mere idlers on board. That was the sort of prospect that was held out to these men. It had been very properly remarked in the course of this Debate that some sort of a career ought to be open to the officers of the Royal Marines that would give them an opportunity of benefiting themselves, the nation, and the service. He did not attach much importance to the suggestion that the Royal Marines should become mobile garrisons, either at home or abroad. By putting the Marines to garrison the outlying stations the transport service would be got rid of. A battalion of infantry must be relieved as a whole, and when it went, the whole tradition of the defence of the fortress went with it. But if the Marines were in garrison, the admiral on the station would simply make regular exchanges, and the routine of the garrison would not be interfered with, while the working efficiency of the fleet would be improved. All these reasons were so overwhelming that in the long run they were bound to prevail. He asked the House to become the advocates in this matter, because the Royal Marines had no advocates in the official world. The right hon. Gentleman would say that anything the Marines desired was always carefully considered by the Admiralty. That was so, but they had no representatives in positions of power and responsibility at the Admiralty. He hoped the House would pay attention to the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who preceded him. It was the speech of a soldier of great experience, who, after careful consideration, supported in every particular the claim made by the hon. and gallant Member for Yarmouth. Though they might not get far towards this reform that night, yet he hoped that in the near future they would see it completed, as every other reform to which the authorities had opposed a simple non possumus had been completed. ["Hear, hear!"]

said it was not true to say that the Marines had no advocates. As First Lord of the Admiralty he represented them quite as much as the naval officers. The Marines had, in fact, advocates on all sides; for the Navy could best produce them and the Army desired to have them. What the Army desired was that the Marines should perform those duties which were now performed in part by the Army, and that the Marines would perform them infinitely better; on the other hand, he would venture to put forward the consideration that if this movement was carried to its end it would remove a great part of the value of the Marines. The matter had been treated from two points of view—one, that of finding a career for Marine officers by opening up work for them; and the other was the broader question, from the imperial point of view, of whether the handing over of coaling stations which were strategic points to the Admiralty would really strengthen our position in the hour of need. There was one argument which somewhat amused him, and that was the enormous cost which was involved now by the occupation by the Army of Bermuda and Hong-Kong and other places. A picture was drawn of the unnecessary expenditure on a large number of superfluous officers, and it was shown that Barmuda could not be garrisoned by soldiers without incurring an enormous expense for a staff. All he could say was that, if that were so, the War Office ought to look to it to reduce that unnecessary expenditure. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] If the value of the Marines to the Navy were diminished, as it would be, by the transfer, then he thought it better that the necessary reform in military organisation should be undertaken than that a blow should be struck at the Marines. It had been said from the broader point of view that they ought to undertake the defence of the naval bases because they were mainly intended for the naval service; but they were not intended specially for the naval service, but for Imperial service. They were part of our Imperial defences, and it would be incorrect to say that it was strictly from the naval point of view that some of the stations which had been alluded to ought to be defended. There were also places in which the Mercantile Marine were interested—strategic points of the Empire from a military as well as a naval point of view. It had been pointed out that in France and in Germany this system existed, and that there the forts and naval bases were held by the Navy and not by the Army; and it was said that we should follow the same system by placing coaling stations and forts in the hands of the Navy. But the House would readily see that the position was totally different, because the Navy was our first line of defence. We were, if he might use the phrase, on the opposite tack. We required to keep the Navy as free as possible for the enormous task that would be thrown upon it in time of war. At all events, whatever happened, the matter would not be ripe for a long series of years. ["Hear, hear!"] The question would have to be started, so to speak, from the beginning—["hear, hear!"]—and not only would the question have to be treated in that way, but there would be required a body of Naval Engineers as well as Marine Artillery.

reminded the right hon. Gentleman that the Marine officers went through a torpedo course and submarine mining.

said he was not thinking of these, but of the science of constructing fortifications and those duties which were performed by the Royal Engineers. But he would not press the point. He had only touched some of the difficulties the Admiralty might find in undertaking the work. In time of war the Admiralty and the whole of its organisation would have their hands so full that he wondered whether it was wise to place upon them the additional work of having to look after fortresses, and to consult the War Office on a number of points, crowding duties upon them, when already their work would strain their powers to the utmost. At the bottom of this movement they found the desire on the part of the Army to get rid of some disagreeable duties. ["No, no!"] He had seen proposals from the War Office that Sierra Leone, St. Helena, and Bermuda, should be given to the Admiralty. [An HON. MEMBER: "And Gibraltar."] Gibraltar was a new offer, made only since the Guards were to be sent there. A new force was given to the movement because the Guards were now on the side of the Marines, being used for military duties. Military men have pointed out that the training that could be given in these stations was inadequate, and that the men would deteriorate. But the Admiralty did not wish the Marines to deteriorate, or to be locked up in places where there were not proper ranges, and where they could not be properly exercised with arms of precision. They did not wish to remove them from their proper duties, which they considered to be with the Navy. The present position of affairs was that the Marines were an invaluable adjunct to the Navy, to whom they attached the greatest importance, because they could fight on sea as well as on land. They were invited by the Amendment to put men who could perform two duties into places where men were only required to perform one. An hon. Member said the Marines need not give up their usual training; but at present, looking to the proportion which the Marines bore to the ships to be put into commission, they did not find that they could give the Marines any greater training than they required. If effect were given to the plan now recommended they would have to increase the Marines from 16,000 to 26,000; and if the present number were only able to get an adequate training, how would they be able to train the increased number properly? The Admiralty attached the greatest importance to the Marines as an integral portion of the naval forces, and it was because any movement by winch they would be made more like a colonial corps would diminish in their judgment their value for the Navy, that they were opposed to such a gigantic change as that which would be involved in the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member. He felt that the speech of the hon. Member was so important that a full answer ought to be given to it; but he had endeavoured to answer some of the points and to invite the attention of the House to the risks of the changes proposed. He was sure that when hon. Members heard the other side, some points of which he had endeavoured to indicate, the House would hesitate to make a change which, in the opinion of the immense majority of the naval service, would cripple our action in time of war to a degree which would be most inexpedient and contrary to our interests. He appealed to the House to allow the Speaker to leave the Chair now, so that on Friday time House might resume the discussion of the Estimates with the Chairman in the Chair. There would be ample opportunity to raise any point then in connection with the general administration.

thought that the point was too important to be disposed of so summarily. He noticed that the right hon. Gentleman did not treat of those inequalities from which the officers suffered, but confined his remarks to that part of the Amendment which dealt with time question of the Marines holding the naval bases. The question of the treatment of the Marines by the Admiralty was of the utmost importance. At the present time they represented one-fourth of the fighting strength of the Navy, and yet, in consequence of being sometimes under the Army and sometimes under the Navy, they stood in the position of being under two stools, with all the inconveniences and disabilities which such a position entailed.


interrupting the hon. Member, reminded him that the Amendment did not relate generally to the position of the Marines, but only their to suitability for a particular duty and that his line of remarks therefore was not in order.

, continuing his remarks amid constant Ministerial cries of "Divide," was understood to say that the question was one deserving of further discussion. ["Divide, divide!"] He should like to hear, for example, what the military representatives had to say about it from the military point of view. ["Divide, divide."] He did not think that, with an important question such as the consideration of the Navy Estimates the discussion should be a restricted one. These were— And, it being midnight, Mr. Speaker proceeded to interrupt the business; whereupon,

rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the Question be now put." [Ministerial Cheers.]

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided:—Ayes, 111; Noes, 35.—(Division List, No. 73.)

Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided; Ayes, 110; Noes, 30.—(Division List, No. 74.)

I claim to move That the main Question be now put, "That Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair."

Main question put accordingly, and agreed to.

Supply considered in Committee.

Navy Estimates, 1897–8

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.

Ways And Means

Committee deferred till Monday next.

Smaller Dwellings (Scotland)Bill

Second Reading deferred till Thursday 25th March.

Locomotives On Highways Bill

Second Reading deferred till Monday 15th March.

County Councillors (Qualification Of Women) (Scotland) Bill

Second Reading deferred till Friday 19th March.

Shop Assistants (Half Holiday)Bill

Second Reading deferred till Friday next.

Shops (Early Closing) Bill

Second Reading deferred till Friday next.

Shops Bill

Second Reading deferred till Friday next.

Arciideaconry Of London(Additional Endowments) Bill

Adjourned debate on Second Reading [24th February] further adjourned till Monday next.

Licensing Exemption(Houses Of Parliament) Bill

Second Reading deferred till Monday next.


On the Motion "That this House do now adjourn,"

said there was a question his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition put to the Leader of the House concerning the presentation of the Note to Turkey, and the right hon. Gentleman, as they understood, stated that he was not sure that the Note had been presented, and therefore he was not in a position to tell the House the terms of the Note. The right hon. Gentleman hoped that when the adjournment of the House was moved, he would be able to make a statement to the House of the terms of the demand made to the Sultan by her Majesty's Government in concert with the Powers, and particularly the conditions imposed in regard to the removal of Turkish troops from Crete, and whether, as in the case of Greece, a fixed date had been assigned for the compulsory assent by the Porte to the conditions imposed. He wished to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to answer that Question.

Five minutes ago I received a telegram from the Foreign Office, stating that the Note had been presented to the Porte, but not giving the text. I am sorry for that. Under the circumstances I am afraid I cannot give an answer to the Question of the right hon. Gentleman.

Are we to understand that a Note has been presented in the name of the Powers to the Porte, of which the representative of the Government in this House is not in possession of a copy! [Opposition cheers.]

I have not got the text. I have telegraphed to-day for the text of the Note presented. Five minutes ago I had a telegram to say that it had been presented. I have not got the text.

I do not wish to be too pressing, but the Government must, obviously, have in their possession the text of the Note presented to the Porte. Surely, then, the right hon. Gentleman can tell us, in answer to the Question of my right hon. Friend, what were the terms of the Note, in respect of the withdrawal of troops from Crete by the Porte, and whether those terms are identical with, or similar to, the terms of the Greek Note?

The arrangement was that the Powers should telegraph to the Ambassador at Constantinople on the subject. By inference I assume that as the Note has been presented it is the Note that was agreed to by the Ambassadors. But unfortunately I have not got the text with me. It is not contained in the telegram which I have just had handed to me.

, amidst Ministerial cries of "Oh" and Opposition cheers, said: The Note is of importance and the country has a great curiosity about it. [Ministerial cheers.] From the language used by the right hon. Gentleman in his last answer, there seems to be a possible difference between the Note presented by the Ambassador and the Note agreed to by the Powers. Is the Note that has been presented the Note which all the Powers have agreed to, or is it only the Note which the Ambassador suggested? If it is the Note agreed to by the Powers, of course the Foreign Office here must have it in their possession. [Opposition cheers.]

Undoubtedly they must have it substantially, but I doubt whether any verbal change has been made by the Ambassadors at Constantinople. The words of the telegram are: "Supplementary Collective Note respecting Turkish troops in Crete presented to-day." That is the telegram which was handed to me five minutes ago.

This Supplementary Note has, according to that telegram, been presented. The Ambassador, who I presume dispatched that telegram, assumed that the recipient of the telegram at the Foreign Office would know to what Supplementary Note he was referring. All I humbly ask is, What was the Supplementary Note?

I understand the right hon. Gentleman's position, and I hope he understands mine. If I had got this telegram an hour ago, I have no doubt I could have got it from the Foreign Office, but unfortunately I got it five minutes ago, and it has not been possible for me to get it from the Foreign Office.


The right hon. Gentleman has stated the same thing over and over again. It is conclusive as to the particular point. But surely the right hon. Gentleman can state the substance.

But surely the right hon. Gentleman, having at a quarter past four o'clock described to the House his expectation that before this hour arrived he would have received a telegram from Constantinople saying whether or not the Note had been presented yet, has been waiting in hourly expectation of that telegram, and knowing that he would be asked the question which I am asking on behalf of my right hon. Friend, has he not provided himself with a copy of the Supplementary Note to which the question refers?

I think I can satisfy the right hon. Gentleman at once. As soon as I got private notice of the question of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire, I sent over to the Foreign Office to know whether they had received any information from the Ambassador. They informed me that they had received no information. I then directed them to at once telegraph for information. The telegram was sent somewhat in this form—"Telegraph whether the Note has been presented, and telegraph its text en Clair." Under those circumstances I did not think it necessary to provide myself, and did not provide myself, with any special copy of the text of the Note which we supposed would be presented. Of course, I thought it would come with the telegram. [Cheers.]

I have only one more question to ask, and it is this—What is the meaning of asking the Ambassador at Constantinople to telegraph en Clair the text of a Note of every word of which, I assume, the Foreign Office, the Foreign Secretary, and the Government must have been fully aware? I also wish to know whether the country is to remain in ignorance until Monday afternoon next [cheers] as to what the terms of that Note are, and especially upon the point to winch our Question refers.

I have no right to dispute the view of the right hon. Gentleman that it is extremely important to know between this and Monday next what is the exact text of the Identic Note presented. I am very sorry that I cannot give the text, but I think it is absolutely unimportant, because the Powers are absolutely determined that the Turkish forces shall, under no circumstances whatever, have any uncontrolled dominion over any part of that island. [Cheers.]

who was received with Ministerial Cries of "Oh!" said: May I put this question? It is a matter of public importance of the first degree. The telegram received at the Foreign Office speaks of a supplementary Collective Note. Those words imply that a previous Collective Note must have been presented, and I think it is quite clear that the representative of the Foreign Office and the First Lord of the Treasury must be aware of the terms of that Note, and be able to state them. They would also, perhaps, be able to state what are the points on which the Government of this country has suggested to its Ambassador at Constantinople that the first Note should be modified. I therefore ask this specific question, whether there has not been a fresh Note presented, and what that is?

The supplementary Note did not modify the first Note, it added to it.

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree, as the text of the Note, as we assume from the right hon. Gentleman's answer, is in the Foreign Office, to supply it to the Press to-night? [Cheers.]

I do not believe such a proceeding has ever been taken before. [Ministerial cheers.] I believe the French text is not at the Foreign Office, but if, as I assume, the English text is at the Foreign Office it shall be laid on the Table on Monday. [Opposition Cries of "Oh!" and cheers.]

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman why it is that the text of the Note to Greece has been supplied to the newspapers and has been all over Europe for the last two or three days, while the text of the Note to Turkey is not published?

I do not know, Sir. I have nothing to do with the Press. It has not been supplied to the Press in England.


Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire whether a special Gazette could be issued.

I will inquire whether such a thing has been done; I am not aware that any such course has been pursued before.

House adjourned at Twenty-five minutes before One o'clock till Monday next.