« VorigeDoorgaan »
laid down that this new member of the Board should assist the Controller of the Navy, who is a naval officer, and during the last thirty years has been continuously a member of the Board of Admiralty. Mr. George Rendel, who had been long associated with Lord Armstrong in the management of the great works at Newcastle-on-Tyne, was appointed Additional Civil Lord, and it is well known that the creation of the office was chiefly due to the desire to have the benefit of the advice and assistance of that eminent ordnance engineer during a critical period in transition from muzzle-loading to breech-loading guns. The appointment was non-political, but the tenure of office as a member of the Board was similar to that of other members. When Lord George Hamilton succeeded Lord Northbrook as First Lord in the summer of 1885, a new Board of Admiralty was appointed, including new naval members, and the office of Additional Civil Lord was abolished.
Mr. Churchill now proposes to revive the office of Additional Civil Lord, though for a somewhat different purpose.' He defines the position and duties in the following terms :
The occupant of this post will be a member of the Board of Admiralty. He will be appointed for a fired tenure. He will be non-parliamentary and non-political. Under him will be placed the various branches of Admiralty departments connected with contracts and purchasing. He will conduct the business and commercial transactions of the Board and all their relations with the great contracting firms. He will, in short, be the Admiralty buyer and business manager; and it will be his duty to furnish the Third and Fourth Sea Lords with all that they may require in order to build, arm, equip, and supply the Fleet. Except as a member of the Board, he will have no responsibility either for the adequacy of naval preparations or for the technical suitability of materials ordered. These duties can only be discharged by the Sea Lords responsible for the various departments. It is for them to choose and for them to supply; and these functions, which are sympathetically related, are to be discharged in harmony by both parties, and with full knowledge of each other's spheres. [The italics are ours.]
Readers unfamiliar with Admiralty organisation may better understand the arrangements proposed if a brief explanation is given of pre-existing methods for dealing with naval contracts, and of the duties assigned to the Third Sea Lord, who is better known as Controller of the Navy. In 1869, when Mr. Childers, as First Lord, made drastic changes in Admiralty organisation, the Controller was first made a member of the Board, and so remained until 1872, when Mr. Goschen was First Lord and decided that it was better to revert to the earlier practice. In 1892 the Controller again became a member of the Board, and still remains so. The duties attaching to the office are varied, extensive, and onerous the Controller being responsible under
the First Lord for naval matériel and dockyard administration. These duties have grown enormously during the last twenty-five yeats, in consequence of great developments in the Royal Navy and large increase in numbers, dimensions, cost, and complexity of modern warships. Mr. Churchill, in his Minute, dwells upon these great and growing responsibilities, the magnitude of which is indicated by the fact that expenditure during the current year under votes administered by the Controller will exceed twenty millions sterling, out of a total naval expenditure of about fortyfour milliong. The First Lord naturally does not give particulars in his Minute of the actual organisation of the Controller's Department by means of which these responsible duties are carried out -and it may be said are well carried out; it may be useful therefore to sketch the principal features of that organisation, as they have an important influence on both the present and the future efficiency of the Navy. Reference to the Navy List will show that distinguished naval officers who, for a period averaging from three to five years, come from sea-service to occupy the great position of Controller of the Navy and then return to sea-service, bave during their occupancy of that office the assistance of a numerous and efficient professional staff of a permanent nature distributed in a number of branches, each of which is under the control of a responsible and permanent official who has been appointed because of proved ability and large experience in the duties to be performed by him. Each branch is manned by a capable and numerous staff of assistants specially trained and qualified for their several duties. Amongst these officers the following may be mentioned. The Director of Naval Construction is professionally responsible for the design and supervision of the building of ships. The Superintendent of Construction Accounts and Contract Work is specially concerned with details of shipbuilding finance and the execution of contracts for warships. The Superintending Electrical Engineer deals with the design, manufacture, and installation of electrical fittings and appliances. The Engineer-in-Chief is responsible for the supervision of designs and construction of propelling apparatus and auxiliary machinery in the ships of the Royal Navy. The Director of Dockyards assists the Controller in the management of our great naval arsenals, each of wbich is placed under a naval superintendent and endowed with a competent staff of professional and clerical officers. The Director of Stores is responsible for the finance, castody, maintenance, and issue of naval stores for the fleet and dockyards, including coals; but in regard to the last-mentioned item be acts as assistant to the Fourth Sea Lord, who is responsible for supplies to the fleet. The Inspector of Dockyard Expense Accounts deals with the finance of Dockyard Expendi
The Director of Naval Ordnance was formerly one of the principal officers in the Controller's Department; in recent years that section of Admiralty work has been placed under the control of the First Sea Lord, the Controller dealing only with naval ordnance questions affecting the construction and alterations of ships. In addition to these professional officers, the Controller's Department has a large and experienced clerical staff which undertakes correspondence and financial work connected with contracts for ships and machinery.
Contracts for and purchases of ships and machinery have fallen within the category of the Controller's duties since the Admiralty administration was reformed by Sir James Grabam in 1832; and the Controller is also consulted in regard to the purchase of shipbuilding materials for use in the dockyards, as well as naval stores other than those coming within the province of the Fourth Sea Lord. There have been proposals to remove the supervision of contracts for ships and machinery from the Controller's Department, the last having been made about twentyfive years ago by a Departmental Committee presided over by the late Sir Arthur Forwood, who was then Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. A dissentient report was made by Admiral Hotham, who was then serving as Fourth Sea Lord, and represented the naval members of the Board on the Committee. Admiral Hotham therein emphasised the fact that contracts for ships and machinery were based on drawings and specifications of a technical character, which were necessarily prepared by the professional officers in the Controller's Department, and could only be properly interpreted by them during the execution of contracts. For that reason he opposed the transfer of the business connected with such contracts to the Contract and Purchase Department. Lord George Hamilton, as First Lord, concurred with this view, and the only changes made had relation to details of procedure in dealing with tenders when received and placing orders for ships and machinery. In these matters the Controller of the Navy remained the member of the Board upon whom initiative rested, the Parliamentary Secretary and the First Lord being consulted and having the final word in deciding on recommendations made by the Controller.
During my long term of office as Director of Naval Construction and Assistant Controller of the Navy, the actual procedure in regard to contracts for ships and machinery was as follows: The firms to be invited to tender on each occasion were selected by the Controller and Financial Secretary from the Admiralty list of contractors, which list was amended or extended from time to time after the premises and plant of private firms had been surveyed and reported upon by professional officers of the
Controller's Department. Inquiries in relation to the financial standing of firms were made confidentially by the Director of Navy Contracts, and reports were made by him on the subject to the Controller and Financial Secretary. When tenders were received the designs and specifications for machinery were detached and sent to the Engineer-in-Chief, in order that he might report to the Controller on the technical merits of the designs submitted by individual firms. The Director of Naval Construction also had to report on the suitability or otherwise of the designs of machinery for the space and weight assigned to these items in the design for the vessel. That design and specification had been prepared by the Director of Naval Construction, under instructions of the Board conveyed through the Controller. Upon the Director of Naval Construction rested full responsibility for all technical features of the design in regard to weight, strength, stability, and speed; contractors were held responsible only for carrying out the instructions contained in the drawings and specifications for ship and machinery. These Reports were made by the Engineer-in-Chief and Director of Naval Construction without any knowledge of the tender prices submitted by the various firms. With these reports before him the Controller made recommendations as to the placing of orders with particular firms; these recommendations were considered by the Financial Secretary and the First Lord, whose decision was final. Standing forms of contract, settled under the advice of the Treasury solicitor, were used in completing the business arrangements, and comparatively little labour was involved therein.
From this brief statement it will be understood that the Controller of the Navy and his professional officers are, and must remain, necessarily and inevitably responsible for all technical matters connected with contracts for ships and machinery, including the inspection of the work during progress, the conduct of trials, the certification of instalments of the contract price, and other details which need not be mentioned. Whoever may be entrusted with strictly business correspondence-which is of very limited extent in connexion with these contracts—the main work and responsibility must remain as at present. The inspection of shipyards, engine works, and factories of all kinds must be undertaken by technical officers, and these officers ought to continue to be members of the staff of the Controller's Department. Tenders also must be dealt with on the technical side as they have been hitherto. In fact, so far as an opinion can be formed from past personal experience at the Admiralty, and having had experience also as a contractor to the Admiralty, in my judgment neither the Controller nor his officers can hope for any sensible reduction of work or responsibility in consequence
of the new appointment of an Additional Civil Lord, since that official will be non-technical and must refer all technical matters for the Controller's decision.
No detailed reference is made in the First Lord's Minute to the work of the Contract and Purchase Department at the Admiralty, which deals with the business side of all contracts other than those hitherto entrusted to the Controller's Department and some contracts dealt with by the Director of Works. Mr. Childers set up the Contract Department about forty-two years ago, and it has proved most advantageous in the public interest. Prior to that time three or four of the principal officers of the Admiralty, who were created by Sir James Graham, purchased independently of each other, even when articles of a similar nature were required. The new department was therefore formed to be the ‘Admiralty buyer' for all purposes, except for ships and machinery, and for works supervised by the Director of Works. Armour, timber, and shipbuilding materials are bought through the Director of Navy Contracts, as well as naval, medical, and victualling stores. The statements of requirements and conditions to be fulfilled by firms with whom orders are placed are prepared by the departments requiring the supplies, and the inspection test and receipt of the articles or materials is undertaken by representatives of those departments, whose heads are consulted by the Director of Contracts before tenders are accepted. These arrangements have worked well, but that fact does not dissipate or even weaken the force of the previous statements in regard to contracts for ships and machinery, which differ essentially in their character.
Mr. Churchill, in his Minute, hopes for considerable results from the appointment of the Additional Civil Lord, and with great propriety and force dwells upon the desirability of relieving the Controller, as far as may be possible, of 'routine and administrative functions,' so that he may be ‘set free to advise the Board upon the supreme subject in his charge.' That supreme subject is elsewhere defined as seeing that the right types of ships are built to carry out the war policy of the Admiralty, and that they are ready at the proper dates.' It must not be overlooked, however, that the decision as to the right types of ships is of essential importance in connexion with preparation for war, and that the First Sea Lord is primarily responsible for advice in regard to such preparation. Furthermore, in the past, in the selection and approval of the right types of ships it has been customary for the First Sea Lord and Controller to consult the Board of Admiralty, and especially the naval members. Undoubtedly in this matter the Controller has to assume great and direct responsibility : but