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giving an English excess of 12,800 in the maximum in the naval force of France fixed last year of Louis Philippe's reign. In by an Imperial decree in 1857-a decree 1859 the English navy had 70,400 sea- published openly, known to the whole men, and the French navy 39,470; giving world, and in the possession of everybody an excess of 30,930, against an excess of who takes an interest in such matters12,800 in the former period. What appeal and that maximum was fixed for a concan there be from facts like these? I siderable number of years to come. But beg the noble Lord will not reply to me I find that the right hon. Baronet the with vague general assertions; and if Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood), in these facts cannot be gainsaid, as I be- bringing forward the Navy Estimates for lieve they cannot, what foundation can 1857, stated the number of English line there be for the alarmist statements which of-battle ships then built and building as have been made on the assumption that 40. And in a paper presented to the France was making extraordinary and suc- House of Commons in April, 1859, by cessful efforts to change the accustomed the right hon. Baronet the Member for proportions between the strength of her Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), the navy and ours? But can we not, with the number of line-of-battle ships possessed aid of these documents, which have been by the French Government at that time is almost incautiously presented to the House stated as 40, built and building. Here, by the Government-can we not by these then, is a datum line; and if, instead of despatches of Captain Hore, the English allowing our minds to be diverted to other naval attaché at the Paris Embassy- subjects, we would concentrate our attenwhich alone brings me to my feet-bring tion on this point, we should be able to this question to a still more precise and measure the increase and diminution of the tangible issue? I think we may, I go French navy by a test laid before us that back to the time when the French Govern- the Government itself cannot reject. From ment devised a scheme for its naval estab- 1857 down to within the last fortnight the lishment. In 1855 the French Govern- noble Lord at the head of the Government ment appointed a Commission to inquire has been constantly_reiterating the great into the state of the navy, and to devise a efforts made by the French Government to programme for its future establishment. increase its navy, and to give it a disproIn consequence of that Commission a de- portion of strength compared with that of cree was published in 1857-I beg atten- the English navy. But we have now laid tion to the dates-in which the Emperor before us a despatch from the naval attaché defined and fixed the naval strength of of our Embassy in Paris; and I find he France, and in which he published to the states that the number of line-of-battle world the amount of naval force which his ships in the French navy, built and buildGovernment intended to maintain for a ing, on the 1st of January of the present long period of years to come. In that year, was just 37. So instead of 40, decree the French Government decided which was announced by the French Gothat the maximum of the strength of the vernment as its maximum in 1857, we find, French navy should be forty line-of-battle on the authority of our own naval attaché, ships a moderate establishment if we France has only 37. During these last compare it with what France had been five years our Naval Estimates have enoraccustomed to maintain in former times, mously augmented; we have heard conwhen the standard of naval strength was stant alarms expressed at the increase of in sailing line-of-battle ships. From a the French navy; and appeals have been statement of the number of line-of-battle made to us in support of an enormous ships in the French navy in each year, system of fortifications; yet we find that down to 1859, it appears that in 1778 it France has fewer line-of-battle ships now was 68, in 1794 it was 77, and in 1830 than she had five years ago. The fact is the number was 53. And it will be found a conclusive proof that these statements by any one who will consult that interest- were illusory. I am willing to believe that ing work, The Memoirs of the First Lord the noble Viscount has been himself under Auckland, that when he was, in 1783, some official delusion in respect to this negotiating the commercial treaty with matter. My hon. Friend the Member for France, he sent over to Mr. Pitt a list of Sunderland (Mr. Lindsay) has proposed all the ships of the line possessed by there should be an addition to this deFrance at that time. The number was spatch, showing what was the French naval 68. Now, 40 line-of-battle ships is the force in 1860 and 1861; and I think this
is due not only to the noble Lord, but to Captain Hore, our naval attaché at Paris, placed there to furnish information for the instruction of the Govern ment. Either he has not given correct information, or the noble Lord cannot have read his despatches, because it is impossible, taking the statement he now sends, compared with what has been stated on official authority during the last five years, that the Government could have been under such an illusion as to the French having made such great naval preparations. I have confined my statement to the number of line-of-battle ships, because that class of ships has been the measure of naval power in past years. But if I extended it to smaller vessels, our case would be infinitely strengthened. The hon. Member for Sunderland has told us that our navy comprises more vessels of twenty guns and upwards than all the other navies in the world. I believe he states that correctly; and it proves what I say, that by extending the comparison from large ships to small we should find the case strengthened against the Government in reference to the exaggerated statements they have laid before us. Now, it is impossible to deal with this question without the facts rising up in accusation against the noble Viscount. Whenever the question of the organization of the navy is raised the noble Lord puts himself prominently forward as the advocate of these large armaments, and always with reference to the state of things in France. In the whole of the past five years I defy any one to show an instance in which the noble Lord has advocated an increase of our naval armament in reference to any other country but France. We have heard the word invasion" from him a dozen times within the last few years. Now, for a Prime Minister to talk about this country being invaded by a friendly Power without one fact to justify a suspicion of it-on the contrary, when the navy of that Government is less than at any former time is to commit this country to an attitude towards that neighbouring Power that no Minister ought to give it, with the levity of indiscretion that has marked the noble Lord's course on this subject. The hon. Member who preceded me read an extract from a speech of the noble Lord that shows the manner in which the noble Viscount has dealt with this question. He is aggressive in his defensive policy. He would not allow me to sit Mr. Cobden
quiet, without making an attack on me. The noble Lord is the representative of an idea; he seems to be possessed by it-it is the idea of invasion. It is an idiosyncrasy of the noble Lord. Now, it will be in the recollection of the House that in 1860, when the plan of fortifications was proposed, several hon. Members, among them the Members for Sunderland, Glasgow, and Montrose, took steps, either by writing or sending to France, to inquire for themselves as to the reality of the naval preparations of the French Government. And, surely, if there are three hon. Gentleman in this House who may be supposed likely to give an impartial judg ment as to a proposal for an increase of maritime defence, it would be the Members for three of our largest commercial seaports. Those hon. Gentlemen, with my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Sir M. Peto) took great pains with this subject. I happened to be in Paris at the time, and I know the pains they did take. Some of them visited the French dockyards, or employed trustworthy agents to do so. Others saw the French Minister of Marine. And after the groundless allegations that had been made here, almost imputing to the French Government some clandestine design against us, I think it proves a great amiability on the part of the French authorities that these Gentlemen were graciously received, and were given every facility for visiting the French dockyards and arsenals. Those Gentlemen came back, and in the spring of 1861 took the opportunity of stating in the House what they had heard and seen, controverting and opposing the statements of the noble Lord, as to the great preparations, and hostile intentions of France. How did the noble Viscount treat these hon. Gentlemen? One would have thought that, at all events, their sincerity would not have been questioned. But I will read an extract from a speech of the noble Lord on March the 11th, 1861, when the Navy Estimates were brought forward, when some of the Members of his Cabinet shrunk away, and others could say nothing. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), among others, had spoken on the occasion. The noble Lord said
"I rise to contradict the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Bright's) own erroneous assertions, as well Sunderland. Those hon. Gentlemen came here as those of the hon. Members for Montrose and propounding opinions based on extracts from some newspaper or other. I really think it was
a Scotch newspaper that one hon. Member quoted. | speaking of the land forces of France,
"When some well-intentioned gentleman asks the French if they really mean to invade this country, if they really have any hostile intentions towards us, of course they say, 'Not the least in the world,' their feeling is one of perfect sympathy and friendship with us, and that all their preparations are only for their own selfadvancement."-[3 Hansard, clxi., 1791.]
"On the 1st of January, 1862, the French army consisted "[these are the corrected figures which the noble Lord afterwards gave]"of 446,348 of 170,000 men, liable to be called out at a fortmen under arms. There was, besides, a reserve night or three weeks' notice, making altogether 616,348"
Not 816,000, as the noble Lord really said. VISCOUNT PALMERSTON: No, I never said anything of the kind.
MR. COBDEN: I beg the noble Lord's pardon, because this was not a mistake of a figure. There was addition and subtraction, and the statement was the same all through. The noble Lord proceeded
"In addition to this force actually under arms, or liable to be called out for service, I stated that there were 268,417 National Guards, making a total available force of 884,765."
In this speech the noble Lord stated—and
on the same evening had taken a Vote for
"France, as I had occasion to state on a former men, fully equipped, including a large force of occasion, has now a standing army of 340,000 cavalry and artillery, and, in addition to that,
1,000,000 of the National Guard. I know that
will defy any one to show any year during
That is the noble Lord's statement of the
land forces of France on the 24th of May,
taking into account the increase in the The facts are all accessible to us. There regular force, which I am not here to de-are no secrets about the French naval fend, for it is the monster evil of the age- armaments. Every information which is considering all these points, the House will possessed by the Government may be had see that France has not so large an armed by us; and I think it is the duty of the force as in the time of Louis Philippe. House, as representing the people and will make one more remark upon the ques- finding the money for these armaments, tion of the responsibility which rests upon to see that the grounds upon which we the Government and upon the House in vote such enormous sums are valid grounds, these matters. I have heard a doctrine and do not rest merely upon the fanciful very much insisted on-namely, that we and excited imagination of a Prime Minisare not to take the dicta of independent ter. Now, is this the proper time-does Members upon this question, but are to anybody who reflects upon what is passing trust implicitly the statements of a Prime among multitudes of men out of doorsMinister. One would think that the sa- does any one think this is the proper time gacity of the right hon. Gentleman oppo- to be discussing in this House from day site (Mr. Henley) would lead him to take to day the question of more outlay upon a different view of the matter. Yet what bricks and mortar at Portsmouth or Woolis his maxim as to the authority of a Prime wich for the defence of the country? Minister? In July last, when an attempt After the statements we have heard, unwas made to get more money from us on less the facts and figures can be disputed the plea that more iron ships were wanted, and disproved, I say that to spend money that attempt was opposed by my hon. now upon gigantic fortifications, backing Friend (Mr. Lindsay), who, under the dis- up our enormous naval power, would be a couragement, the taunts, the imputations, waste of public money impossible to jusand the little attention he received some tify. I think we might more properly be years ago, deserves the thanks of the engaged in discussing other questions, as country for the manner in which he op- was stated by the hon. Gentleman who posed increased Estimates. Speaking of preceded me, relating to the internal state the noble Lord at the head of the Go- of the country. There is no question in vernment, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. this House as to defending the country Henley) on that occasion saidagainst a foreign enemy. It would be a piece of supreme impertinence in me or in any other man to lay claim to an exclusive interest or regard for the security of the country against a foreign enemy, and I hold the man to be a charlatan who sets up a claim to popularity because he holds the honour and safety of the country in higher estimation than I do. That is not the question here, where every man has an equal interest in the safety of the country. We may take different views-as we are entitled to do-as to the best modes of fortifying and permanently defending the country. Some think we cannot do better than appeal for armaments and fortifications in addition to our existing resources in time of peace, notwithstanding the weight of taxation under which the country is struggling; while others, like myself, may think, with Sir Robert Peel, that you cannot defend every part of your coast and colonies, and that in attempting to do so you run a greater risk of danger to the country than you would incur by husbanding the resources which you are now expending upon armaments, so as to have them at call in time of emergency. That is my view.
"Speaking as the noble Lord did from his place as Prime Minister, if 100 persons had been sent by hon. Members to look round them, open and shut their eyes when they liked, perhaps having no eyes to see with at all, he did not think that the reports of such people ought to be allowed by
the country to weigh for one moment against the positive declaration of the Prime Minister from his seat in Parliament, that he knew the facts he stated to be facts." [3 Hansard, clxiv., 1676.] ["Hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen cry "Hear, hear!" but I think that is a dangerous doctrine. Are we absolved from our responsibility because a Prime Minister makes certain assertions? We are here as representatives of the people. The Prime Minister is responsible to us, and we are responsible to the country; and if we take implicitly the statement of the noble Lord, neglecting our own duty, do you think that, by-and-by, when we get into that condition in which the country is apt to judge of Parliament, and of Ministers by a very ugly retrospect upon their past policy-do you think that we shall stand acquitted before the country for voting these large sums of money without inquiry into the facts upon which the noble Lord bases his statements and opinions? Mr. Cobden
Let no one presume nor dare to say that of the country, in which they are mainly he has more regard for the safety of the occupied. It has been sometimes made country than I have. They may try to a reproach against me and my friends the create imaginary dangers and to take credit Free-traders, that we would leave the counfor guarding against them; but give us a try defenceless. I say, if you have mulreal danger, show us that our navy is not tiplied the means of defence-if you can equal to our defence, that a neighbour is build three times as many steamers in the clandestinely and unduly trying to change same time as other countries, and if you the proportion which its force should bear have that threefold force of mechanics to that of this mercantile people living in of which my hon. Friend has spoken, to an island, and then I would willingly vote whom do you owe that but to the men £100,000,000 of money to protect our who, by contending for the true principles country against attack. But, in saying of commerce, have created a demand for this, I claim no merit. I do not set my- the labour of an increased number of arti sans in this country. Go to Plymouth or self up as a great patriot, for there is nobody here but would put his hand in his to Woolwich and look at the names of pocket and spend his whole fortune rather the inventors of the tools for making firethan have this island defiled by the foot of arms, and shot and shell. They bear the I have my own views as to names of men in Birmingham, in Manwhat constitutes the strength of the coun-chester, and in Leeds, men nearly all contry, but they are not the views of those nected for the last twenty years with the who have had a hand in promoting this extension of our commerce, which has thus The contributed to the increase of the strength gigantic system of expenditure. right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Hors- of the country by calling forth its genius man) is the author of this scheme. It is and skill. I resist the attempt which has his sober, sagacious leadership of which been made to show that I am not a proyou are followers. The hon. Member for moter of the strength, the power, and the Bridgwater (Mr. Kinglake) has commend- greatness of this country; or that I, or ed this great plan of expenditure; he is any of those who act with me are or have the great champion of the noble Viscount been indifferent to or ignorant of what in this matter. I cannot follow those gen- constitutes the real strength and greattlemen, for I do not entertain their views. ness of the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud thinks that in proportion as you go extending your commerce and increasing your wealth you must also be continnally increasing your armed force. That might be if we were an enervated people, gaining our wealth from the labour of slaves, or if remittances from gold regions were keeping us in idleness and luxury; but my view is that every step you take towards the increase of wealth and the extension of commerce, by that very commerce you are strengthening yourselves and building up those materials and that kind of population which will best provide means of defence whenever we are attacked. Our wealth, commerce, and manufactures grow out of working in the skilled labour of men metals. There is not one of those men who in case of our being assailed by a foreign Power would not in three weeks or a fortnight be available with their hard
SIR JOHN PAKINGTON: The hon. Member for Rochdale and others have referred so directly to me on the subject of exaggerated statements alleged to have been made in this House with regard to the navy of France, that, in justice to Admiral Elliot, I wish to say a few words. The speech of the hou. Member for Rochdale has been mainly directed against the noble Viscount, whom he has charged with vague and exaggerated statements as to the navies of France and England. I leave the noble Lord to answer that charge, but I must say that I believe he has made no specch upon the subject which was not only not open to the charge of vagueness or exaggeration, but was not strictly founded upon most accurate data. But I must say further, that the speech of the hon. Member for Rochdale with regard to the naval proportion has really nothing to do with the question now before us, no more than if he
hands and thoughtful brains for the ma-had addressed the House upon the relative
strength of the navies of Spain and England at the time of the Spanish Armada. His speech was in a large degree taken up by comparison of the outlay of France and England during two periods-one during