« AnteriorContinuar »
in preference to that of the First Lord in reference to the simple appointment of an officer. Now, if his right hon. Friend had arrived at the dismal position in which he was not fit to be trusted with the selection of an individual to fill such an office as this, it was high time that his right hon. Friend should quit his post altogther.
lant Baronet that though his proposal | hon. and gallant Baronet, in fact, invited took the form of economy, it was in the Committee to defer to his judgment reality simply the vehicle he adopted for expressing disapproval of the reductions which had been already effected by the Board of Admiralty. The Committee was therefore called upon, not so much to disapprove of the appointment of an Assistant Inspector of Yard Accounts, as to express dissatisfaction because a number of gentlemen had been unfortunately relieved from their public duties, and the hon. and gallant Baronet thought they ought not to have been so relieved. "Hear, hear!"] He (Mr. Gladstone) did not think that that view of the Motion-and the hon. and gallant Baronet admitted it to be correct-would much commend it to the Committee. In the course of the debate there had fallen from the other side of the House more than he could subscribe to. When the unfortunate contingency arose-for he admitted it was unfortunate-in which the Government had to choose between interfering with the prospects and careers of blameless individuals on the one hand, and maintaining burdens on the community by keeping in the public service and paying out of the taxes of the country officers whose services were not wanted, on the other, there had been too much disposition to assume that the right, or an allowable, course was to continue to maintain the useless officers for their individual benefit rather than to dismiss them for the interests of the public. Now, he contended that that was a complete inversion of the principle on which the public service ought to be conducted. The duty of the Government certainly was to keep the strictest good faith with these persons, and to mitigate in every possible way any inconvenience which they might suffer from dismissal. But it was equally their duty to plant the foot firmly, and decline to admit that useless offices were to be retained merely because their abolition might injuriously affect individuals. He could not compliment the hon. and gallant Baronet upon the form which his proposal had taken, because, if carried, it would be a Vote of Want of Confidence in the First Lord of the Admiralty. The hon. and gallant Baronet had not attempted to say that this office of Assistant Inspector of Yard Accounts was unnecessary; but he had rather complained that the First Lord had made a wrong selection. The
SIR JOHN HAY said, he hoped his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir James Elphinstone) would not press his Motion to a division, although he had done quite right in demanding from the First Lord his reasons for appointing Mr. Fellowes to so important a post. Considering the deep interest which the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) had ever taken in all matters relating to the Admiralty, it was somewhat strange that he was not now in his place when this appointment was being discussed; but that hon. Member would probably forgive him for referring to the very peculiar relations which seemed to exist between him and Mr. Fellowes during the inquiry of last year. All the questions of detail put by the Chairman of the Committee seemed to be framed by Mr. Fellowes, who sat inside the Bar of the House and at the elbow of the Chairman, occupying a position which, some persons thought, was not quite according to the ordinary usages of the House. Mr. Fellowes seemed, in fact, to be the naval conscience of the Chairman, who was indebted to him, not, perhaps, for broad views of policy, but for those minor questions which he thought necessary to lay before the Committee. It was said by profane persons out-of-doors that the First Lord of the Admiralty had been "muzzling Seely." What this meant he did not profess to know; he was quite sure the absence of the hon. Member for Lincoln was not owing to that operation. But at all events, Mr. Fellowes was the person selected to fill this office in the department which the hon. Member had so severely criticized; and he thought his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir James Elphinstone) had reason for asking why Mr. Yorke, who bore the highest character for financial skill, as shown in the First Lord's certificate just quoted, and had seen five years' service in the department, had been displaced to make room
for this gentleman. With these observa- | but that before long that item would not tions upon the appointment, he would be presented to the House at all in its now appeal to his hon. and gallant present form. The reduction he alFriend to withdraw this Motion.
Tuded to was that in the retainer and MR. CANDLISH said, the Amend- drill money for a number of men of the ment really asked that Mr. Fellowes Royal Naval Reserve. The reduction should be dismissed, and to do this showed that so far from the country would be to take the executive out of having been able to enrol 30,000 men the hands of the Government. As a as a naval reserve, it was not possible member of the Committee of last year, to obtain even the 16,000 men for whom he thought that the First Lord of the Votes had been taken for several years Admiralty had exercised a sound discre- past. The First Lord of the Admiralty, tion in appointing so well-informed, in introducing the Estimates, was right able, and industrious a person as Mr. in cautioning the Committee against Fellowes to this office, instead of a per- supposing that the measure he proson who was supposed to have a vested posed of inviting the men of this force interest in it,
to take their annual drill afloat this MR. CHILDERS said, he had ap- year could be considered a test of the pointed Mr. Fellowes because he thought efficiency of the reserve in case of their that the department of Inspector of being called out for real service in war. Dockyard Accounts wanted additional Apart from the difference between a assistance, and because, after the in- pleasant summer cruize of a few weeks quiry of last year, he felt satisfied that on good pay, with a liberal allowance Mr. Fellowes would render valuable aid. for clothes, and an enforced service of He had no personal acquaintance with three or even five years, on a much Mr. Fellowes. The knowledge which lower rate of wages than the men he acquired of that gentleman was a could obtain elsewhere, he warned the knowledge common to all the Members Committee against supposing that three of the Committee; but he thought that, or four months after the breaking whether they had taken part with or out of a war any great number of against the hon. Member for Lincoln those men would be found either in (Mr. Seely), all would admit that Mr. British ports or sailing under the Fellowes was a person of experience and British flag. Within a very short time knowledge who would be most useful in after being engaged in war the carrying the department.
trade of the country would be taken SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE said, up by non-belligerents, and the seamen that the reason given by the First Lord would naturally follow the course of of the Admiralty would be valid if there trade. If any hon. Gentleman doubted was in the service no man equally able this he would refer him to the tables, with Mr. Fellowes; but the fact was, in the Trade and Navigation Returns, that there were men in the service quite showing the extraordinary fluctuations as good as that gentleman, or better. that had taken place since 1861, in the His object had been that this appoint- amount of tonnage and number of sea. ment should be thoroughly discussed, men. The last Returns of the Board and that object having been achieved, of Trade showed that the total tonnage he would withdraw his Motion.
of British ships was 5,754,000 tons ;
that the number of ships was 29,000 ; Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
and that the crews out of which the Original Question put, and agreed to.
naval reserve was recruited mustered
255,000 men. In 1861-2 the increase of (2.) £224,073, Coast Guard Service, tonnage was 127,500, and of seamen Royal Naval Coast Volunteers, and 3,315, being about the average for many Royal Naval Reserve.
years past; whereas in 1862-3 the tonSir JAMES ELPHINSTONE said, nage ħad increased by 393,000 tons, he hoped some explanation would be and the seamen by 15,515 over the given of the changes which were pro- previous year; in 1863-4 the increase posed with respect to the Coastguard. was considerable, though not so large;
ADMIRAL EŘSKINE said, the reduc- but in 1867, for the first time for forty tion in one item of the Vote led him to years, there had been a decrease in tonhope not only for a further reduction, nage of 6,336 tons, and in
be appointed, should, at the proper time, inquire into the best means, not of doing away with the reserve, but of improving it. The First Lord of the Admiralty, who proposed to go afloat with the reserve and attend their drill, would have an opportunity of ascertaining their value, and when this question came on again next Session, he could suggest what improvements he thought should be made in that force. He (Mr. Graves) believed that, by the offer of the small sum of £1 a year, almost all the fishermen round the coast might be induced to enter the reserve, and the boys might be obtained by the offer of 10s.
These fluctuations admitted of an easy | Committee which the hon. and gallant explanation. In 1861-2 they were ac- Admiral (Admiral Erskine), desired to quiring a large part of the carrying trade of the United States, then engaged in war; but of late years the trade had been resuming its old and legitimate channel. We had only to apply the argument to our own case to be convinced that should we become belligerents our merchant seamen would have every inducement to follow the course of the trade which non-belligerents will carry on for us. He gave English seamen credit for as much patriotism as any other class, but it was impossible to believe that any men who lived by their labour would not carry that labour to the market where the best remuneration might be offered for it. He therefore came to the conclusion that to create a naval reserve it was not sufficient to impose on the men obligations which it was impossible to exact from them; but the public service should be rendered as inviting as possible, so as to make it the interest of the men to engage in it, in the event of a war, rather than in the private service of foreign countries. Such an arrangement was perfectly possible, and at a much less expense than had been incurred during many years for the naval reserve. After the experimental squadron returned from sea, he hoped that the First Lord of the Admiralty would have no objection to the appointment of the Committee suggested by the hon. Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hanbury Tracy), to inquire whether it would not be possible to get a reserve which would enable the country to maintain a peace establishment at as little cost as possible.
ÅDMIRAL ERSKINE said, that when he spoke of an overflow, he meant one into the merchant service from the Royal Navy, from which between 1,500 and 2,000 men were annually discharged. As to a breach of faith towards the naval reserve, the Act of Parliament enabled the Government to discharge those men whenever they liked.
MR. CORRY said, he had often expressed the high opinion he entertained of the Royal Naval Reserve, but it might be agreeable to the Committee if he were to refer to the last Report of the Commodore Controller General of the Coastguard in proof of the efficiency, good character, and discipline of that force. That officer had reported that 9,000 men were drilled on board the eight drill ships, and that of that number 1,250 were fit for petty officers, 1,800 for able seamen, 4,800 for good able seamen, and 1,150 for fair able seamen. There were 5,000 men available for MR. GRAVES said, he regretted that battery service. Only one man out of year after year doubts should be express- the 9,000 had been dismissed for bad ed with reference to the value of the conduct. He regretted to hear that it naval reserve corps, because the effect was contemplated to abolish the office of of such remarks was to unsettle the minds Controller General of the Coastguard, of seamen with regard to that force, and for he feared that its abolition would to deter them from joining it. The men have a damaging effect on that branch in the reserve were led by those ex- of the service. There were some 8,000 pressions to suspect that some breach men in the Coastguard who were serving of faith towards them was contemplated. under circumstances in which it was The hon. and gallant Admiral had very difficult to preserve good discipline. spoken of an overflow from the merchant It was difficult to enforce discipline on service into the naval reserve. The fact was that the merchant service felt it difficult to scrape together enough men to do its work. His own faith in the value of the reserve remained unaltered, and he should be glad if the
board the coastguard ships, on account of the ships themselves being manned with only about a quarter of their proper complements-which made it impossible to carry on the duty as in regular ships of war-and on account, also, of the
88 connections on shore which were sure to coastguard on shore. That would have be contracted by officers and men serving been a fleet, on any emergency, adeso long in the same locality. Neither quate to the protection of the country, was it easy to preserve discipline among and it was a most mistaken policy to the fleet-men on shore who were living endanger its efficiency for the sake of with their families scattered in small the paltry saving to be effected by the bodies along the coast. But a very incorporation of the Coastguard Öffice. perfect organization was made for the with the Admiralty, and the suppression control of the force when it was trans- of the offices of Controller and Deputy ferred from the Customs to the Ad- Controller, who carried on the duties of miralty. That was done in 1854 or the department during the absence of 1855 by Sir Charles Wood. A Con- his chief on his tours of inspection, troller General and a Deputy Controller which occupied a considerable portion of. General were appointed, who had most his time. He should like to know if important functions to discharge. The these inspections were now to be disconController General had to go round tinued, and whether the district captains and inspect in their turn, which occupied were to carry on the duties without supera period of three years, all the stations vision, and without any uniform and orin the United Kingdom, and reports ganized system of management. A friend were sent up to him by the district of his had called the other day at the officers of the conduct, character, age, Admiralty, wishing to get some Returns and other particulars of every man in relative to the force; but, after asking the force. Every man had, therefore, this clerk and that, he could obtain no confidence in the Controller General's information respecting it. A few months knowledge and recommendations for ago, the most minute particulars about promotion, and this operated as an in- every man in it might have been had. citement to zeal and efficiency which He could not express too strongly the could only be expected under the con- great objection he had to the change trol of an officer thoroughly acquainted which had been made. It was most imwith the force. The Coastguard, con- portant to the efficiency of the force that sisting of 8,000 men, was larger than it should be conducted under one head, the force on the Mediterranean, China, who could devote the whole of his attenor North American station, and he had tion to it. He could not understand how considered it so important that he had it was possible to expect efficiency under placed it under the command of a Rear what he must call the most unfortunate Admiral instead of a captain as had pre-arrangement which had lately been made. viously been the case. But his right hon. Friend the present First Lord had substituted for the Rear Admiral Controller General and Deputy Controller, a captain who was borne on the books of the Fisgard to assist the First Naval Lord in coastguard and other matters. He (Mr. Corry) would as soon have thought of placing the Mediterranean squadron under the command of a captain borne on the books of the Hibernia at Malta. His intention, if he had remained in Office and it was carried into effect to a considerable extent before he resignedwas to have substituted for the old lineof-battle ships some of the most effective armour-clads we had as coastguard ships. This would have been a reserve of ships such as we never had before-ten armour-clads, fully rigged, with all their
Then there was to be a reduction in the number of the men, though, as it was small, he should not care so much about that. It had been foreshadowed by Lord Clarence Paget; the suggestion as to reduction four years ago and the actual reduction now having both originated with his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers). He must protest against this force being looked upon by the Admiralty as a mere preventive force; it was a great naval reserve, which ought to be maintained as the only means we had of manning the Navy on an emergency. During the Crimean war they actually could not have sent the fleet to the Baltic but for the Coastguard, and if they were at war to-morrow the same thing would happen again. He had great confidence in the Royal Naval Reserve, but it remained to be proved to what extent its services might be depended on in case of emergency. But every man in the Coastguard was under the obligation to serve afloat
when required, and therefore he thought it most inexpedient to reduce even in a small degree the number of that invaluable force. He hoped that his right hon. Friend was not going to reduce that force below its present number, which could not be done without grievously impairing its efficiency.
to justify any change in the Estimates. It was a subject of very great difficulty. On the whole, he thought the reserve very effective; but he had heard a good many suggestions and improvements that might be made in minor matters, though he did not propose that these should be adopted this year. The Admiralty and the Board of Trade would look very narrowly into the matter; a departmental inquiry would be made, and next Session he hoped to be in a position, if he held his present Office, to state distinctly the views of the Government on the subject of this and of other
the naval reserve had fallen off, but after very careful inquiry he had ascertained that it had not. The number was the same within twenty or thirty as that given in the Return of last year. MR. LIDDELL inquired if the right hon. Gentleman knew the exact number of men?
MR. CHILDERS said, he was sorry to find that his efforts to promote the economy and efficiency of the service did not satisfy his right hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry). Whether he hit high or low his right hon. Friend was equally dissatisfied. In fact, anything that was, was good, and every-reserves. There was an impression that thing that was to be, was bad. He altogether despaired of satisfying him. He (Mr. Childers) entirely recognized the Coastguard as a great naval reserve, but he disputed altogether that they were only to be regarded as a reserve. One of their duties was to protect the revenue. His right hon. Friend said that as to the protection of the revenue, he did not care a straw, but that was a doctrine to which the House undoubtedly would not listen. It was perfectly true that in 1865 he (Mr. Childers) had suggested that, considering the great reduction in the preventive work of the Coastguard, some regard should be had to this circumstance in settling its strength. But he must point out that, as a naval reserve, the Coastguard was now very much more numerous than it was in 1865. In 1865 it contained a large number of civilians, and proportionately fewer sailors. Now it consisted almost exclusively of sailors; and these numbered more than were ever thought necessary in 1865. With reference to the arrangements for its superintendence, a separate department was certainly not necessary. It was in a condition to be administered perfectly well from the Admiralty itself. A change could not be made without some friction, but his perfect conviction was that the force would be more efficiently governed directly than through the separate intervention of the Controller's office. The force also was over- officered; and it would be much better if the districts were rearranged with a smaller number of officers. That might be carried out to a considerable extent; but they would proceed with great caution and care. As to the Royal Naval Reserve, he did not feel that he knew sufficient about it
MR. CHILDERS said, that he had not the Return with him, but it was within a very few of that for last year. Before sitting down he wished to say one word respecting the squadron which the naval reserve men were to be invited to accompany. It had been said that this squadron would test their efficiency, but it was impossible to test the efficiency of the naval reserve fully until they were called out in time of war. There were no means of calling them out at present, but it would be much better if, instead of being called up for drill on ships in port, they went on a cruize. It would test the excellence of their gunnery drill at all events. He hoped to be at Portland when the squadron met there. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) had spoken as if he (Mr. Childers) was going to command the fleet. He must say that, though he had no intention of doing anything so preposterous, he looked forward to that occasion with considerable interest.
MR. ALDERMAN LUSK said, he believed that the Government were pursuing the right path in reducing this Vote, which was £276,600 in 1867 and £263,000 in 1868. He hoped that the First Lord of the Admiralty would turn his attention to the Coastguard, a branch of the service in which he was informed there was a considerable waste of money. Duties now were nothing like so