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fhould have formed a matter of uniform attention. Admitting the propriety of thus fucceffively augmenting the navy, there are two modes in which the object may be effected. The one is by building in his Majefty's dock-yards, and the other by contracting for fhips in the yards of private merchants. From the hiftory of the navy of this country, for a long feries of years, it is clear that the mode of building fhips of the line in the yards of the merchants is that which has been moft generally reforted to. I believe, Sir, I am not carrying my affertion too far when I affirm that for a great number of years, upwards of two thirds of the ships of the line in his Majefty's navy, were built in the dock yards of the merchants. Any man that knows any thing at all of naval affairs knows that the fupplies to the navy from the King's dock yards are quite inconfiderable, and that of the fhips built the greater part confist of veffels of an inferior defeription, in point of force, in any of his Majefty's fleets. During the late war no less than twentyfix fail of the line were added to the navy; but, Sir, these were not compofed of thips built in his Majefty's yards in the courfe of the war, but of veffels, fome of which had been laid down, five, nine or ten years before the war commenced. There were not out of this number more than two fhips which were laid down in the King's dock yards after the war broke out, and they were not brought into fervice till a late period of its duration. What, then, is the inference from thefe facts? The inference I draw from it is fimple. It is, that if fupplies of fhips may be required during the continuance of the war, and if there is no probability of procuring these fupplies through the King's dock yards, the yards of the private merchants must be reforted to. But if I am not grofsly mifinformed, the Board of Admiralty have made no contracts to any extent for fupplying any deficiency ia the navy, which may occur in the courfe of a very few years of the war. This is a fubject on which to affect concealment would be quite ridiculous. From the very nature of the contracts, and the mode in which they are invited by public advertisement, every man who has the leaft curiofity on the fubject, may without difficulty have it gratified. He may even afcertain not only what is the number of veffels contracted for, but the places where they are to be built, the terms on which they are contracted for, and the time when it is expected they may be ready for actual fervice. Having taken fome pains to inquire into this matter, I cannot find that fince the year 1801, when the prefent Board of Admi
ralty came into power, more than two fhips of the line have been contracted for in any of the merchant yards. When I ftate this, it ftrikes me that I cannot urge a ftronger arguinent for inquiry into this fubject. If it is at all times an ef fential object that our navy fhould be kept in a conftant state of effective ftrength adequate to any extraordinary emergency which might take place if this was at all times a most important object, it was furely, Sir, more peculiarly the duty of the Admiralty at the conclufion of the late peace. At that time an establishment of fifty thoufand feamen was voted by Parliament, and furely nothing can be a stronger proof of an idea that the peace was not likely to be of long duration. Minifters befides, according to their own ftatements, owned that the whole conduct of the French Government had been one uniform feries of infult and aggreffion. With this knowledge, how comes it to pals, Sir, that no exertion was made to repair thofe loffes in the navy which a war of ten years neceffarily produced? We find that only two new fhips of the line are contracted for at this moment; and it will not he denied that many more years muft elapfe before any confiderable fupply could be obtained. It ought not to be forgotten, that in time of war the building of hips of the line in the King's dock yards must be in a great measure fufpended? On what poffible ground then, Sir, is it that the dock yards of the merchants are left unemployed? If I am not mifinformed, there are at this time on the River no fewer than fourteen flips fit for building fhips of war, not one of which is put into ufe. On this point the neceffity for inquiry appears to me fo urgent, that without further arguing it, I fhall only ftate, that I mean to move that an humble addrefs be prefented to his Majefty, praying that the proper officer be ordered to lay on the table the orders iffued by the Board of Admiralty for the building of new fhips of war in 1793 and fince 1801, diftinguishing the places where to be built and the period in which they were to be finifhed. I fhould think the information ftill more fatisfactory if the account included a statement of the different species of veffels; but as this may appear liable to fome objection, I fhall not prefs it on the prefent occafion. If in all former wars the navy has derived its chief fupplies from the merchants' yards, I fhould on the production of the account now referred to, beg leave to put it to the House, on what ground it is that now, when a fupply is moft imperiously required, only two fhips of war are on the stocks in merchants' yards? This is a matter on
which it ftrikes me that Parliament ought ftrongly to exprefs their opinion. If an adequate cause exifts, let that cause be stated; if no caufe exifts, then let this inconvenience be removed. A noble Lord, a friend of mine (Lord Caftlereagh), a few days ago told the House a great deal about the comparative force of our navy at this moment and in former wars. The ftatement then given was quite general, and could not be made the ground of any particular conclufion. But there is one point to which I think it right at prefent to advert, as it tends to difprove one part of the noble Lord's arguments. I mean to refer to the number of seamen now employed, contrafted with the number at the commencement of the laft war. At the breaking out of the last war our naval force was on a peace establishment, and the number of feamen employed was not more than 16,000. A very short time prior to the rupture an augmentation of two thousand men took place. At the end of the first year of the war this number was augmented to no lefs than seventyfix thousand, though the means of augmentation were not at all fo extensive as those now in existence. At the commencement of the prefent war we fet out with an establishment of fifty thousand feamen, and Minifters must have entertained the profpect of a rupture from hour to hour. Under fuch circumstances, and with fuch a prospect, what has been the refult? Minifters certainly had every inducement to increase the number of feamen, and they were furnished with every means for that purpose. At the commencement of the rupture, in confequence of the prodigious increase of our commerce, the mercantile marine of the country, the great nurfery for the navy, had increased in an astonishing degree. With the use of all thefe advantages the number of feamen, which at the commencement of the war was fifty thousand, had not been augmented to more than eighty-fix thoufand. In the one cafe there was an augmentation from fixteen to feventy-fix thousand; in the other from fifty the number had only rifen to eighty-fix thoufand. In the one cafe the augmentation was more than in the proportion of five to one, whereas in the other it was not even double, but was about three fourths beyond the original amount. This, Sir, is a ftatement on which I am not at prefent difpofed to comment, but when the statement of the noble Lord a few days ago is confidered, it is proper that the matter fhould be fairly brought to iffue. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by a few general obfervations, stating, that he wished the production
of the papers at prefent, merely as preparatory to future inquiry; and intimated that he meant to move for an account of the number of feamen in the first year of the last and prefent war.
The first of the motions relative to the comparative amount of the naval force of the country in 1793, and at the prefent moment, was then put from the chair.
Mr. Tierney role, and replied in fubftance as follows:I must request the attention of the Houfe for a thort time, while I endeavour to reply to a few of the obfervations of the right hon. Gentleman who has introduced this difcuffion. I am fenfible under what difadvantages any man must labour who attempts to arrest the attention of the Houfe while the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman is fill fresh in their recollection. A fenfe of my public duty, however, induces me to difregard this confideration at the prefent moment, and fairly to deliver my fentiments on the queftion. I have no difficulty then in declaring, that the motion of the right hon. Gentleman does appear to me one of the most extraordinary which ever was fubmitted to this Houfe. It ftrikes me as a motion, the only tendency of which is to produce an effect which every honest man must deplore, to engender difcontents in the country from one end to the other, to shake the confidence which the people have hitherto been inclined to repofe in the Government, to create doubts of the fufficiency of that force which they have at all times looked up to as the firmeft pillar of national fecurity. What is more extraordinary ftill is, that the only object which the right hon. Gentleman has in view is to declare to the public his opinion of the noble Lord who prefides over the Board of Adiniralty. Where proper grounds are made out for inquiry into the conduct and character of public men, I fhall never be backward in fupporting motions which have this end in view; but where no events have taken place which could excite fufpicion, where there was not the flighteft difpofition to cenfure out of doors-[Here the right hon. Gentleman was interrupted by a loud cry of hear! hear! from the oppofite fide of the Iioufe]-I am refining, faid he-fomewhat aftonished at this very loud expreffion of opinion on the other fide of the Houfe-but I muft beg the liberty of repeating my former expreflion: I will go further, and challenge any Gentleman in this Houfe to point out the particular diftrict in the country where the flighteft fymptom of difcontent with the measures of Government has been manifeft
ed. [Another loud cry of hear! hear!] I am ready, Sir, to admit that in this Houfe there is abundance of turbulence and noife, but when I go from this Houfe into public, I am at a lofs to account for fo much violence among a few individuals, while in the country all is calm and tranquil. Gentle men may choofe to exprefs their difapprobation of the opinions I offer; but this fhall not in the flightest degree deter me from candidly offering my fentiments. I declare then that to me there does not appear to be a fingle parliamentary ground laid for any fufpicion of the conduct the Board of Admiralty. The ufual grounds for inquiries into the naval department have been, that convoys have been captured or unneceffarily postponed; that the enemy's fleets have escaped, or been fuffered with impunity to collect their force; that they have been able to effect partial landings on our coaft; or that fome inftance of flagrant neglect had been exhibited. But not one of these can now be brought forward as arguments for inquiry. At a time when commerce is protected to a degree beyond aloft all precedent; when all thofe beft acquainted with military affairs are fatisfied; when the country, with the exception of a few individuals here, repofe the fullest confidence in the talents of the noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty; when there was a general perfuafion of the conduct of Minifters being marked with energy and with wifdom, I fhould wish to ask the Houfe if this is the fit moment for introducing such a motion as the right hon. Gentleman has thought proper to bring forward? I am really, Sir, at a lofs to know how long ago it is fince the right hon. Gentleman changed his opinion of the noble Lord, against whom he now directs his attack with fo much zeal. I need not remind him of the eulogium which three years ago he paffed on the noble Lord's character and profeffional talents. I need not recall to his remembrance his declaration, that whatever doubts might be entertained of the talents of this or that perfon, of Lord St Vincent's abilities it was impoffible to entertain a doubt. Whatever might be other people's defects, Lord St. Vincent was the man whom the public at large looked up to, naturally and neceffarily, as the perfon fittest to prefide over the Admiralty at a period of the molt trying difficulties. Whatever reafons the right hon. Gentleman now has for changing his opinion, I believe on my confcience that the opinion of the country is not changed, but that their confidence, great as it was at his acceffion to power, has been augmented, instead of diminished, by the.