Dockyard School History

1887 - Expenditure Review Extracts

Source: Hansard SUPPLY—NAVY ESTIMATES. HC Deb 18 July 1887 vol 317 cc1189-295

LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL An enormous amount of money is spent on chaplains and schools in the Dockyards. A most ridiculous amount is spent altogether on education in the Navy; £2,400 is spent every year for chaplains at Chatham, and £2,980 every year for schools. I cannot conceive that at the Dockyards of Portsmouth, Chatham, Devonport, and elsewhere there is not a large surplus of clergymen who would discharge the religious duties required at a very much lower figure; and, as far as the schools are concerned, there must be a large number of elementary schools to which the Dockyard children might go. But some of the Dockyard schools are for higher education—for engineers and students—and this raises an important question. The system of education pursued in the Navy is a very remarkable one. An enormous sum of money is spent on the education of shipwrights and others who may rise from the ranks in the Dockyards up to high positions in the Constructive Department. It is an extremely extravagant method. You maintain for that purpose Dockyard schools and Greenwich College, which receives £5,500 a-year. You make all kind of allowances to instructors for apprentices amounting to £5,000; and, having educated several hundred apprentices a-year in order to get a few good ones, you leave them at perfect liberty to seek service in foreign countries or in private yards. It happens, therefore, that after the country has spent a large sum of money in educating these students they instantly leave you and give all the benefit of their education to the enemy or to private enterprize. Is that not an absurd and extravagant system? If any one of us went to Sir William Armstrong's or to Whitworth's we should have to pay a large premium. This might be a source of profit to these firms, but the Navy pursues exactly the reverse method; it pays persons in order to teach them the science of shipbuilding. No doubt, that is a system which is susceptible of a very large reform indeed. The whole principle of your education in the Navy must be reconsidered, and if you do that you must save a very considerable sum of money. That, however, is perhaps a larger question than may properly be brought in to be examined on this Vote. But, speaking generally, besides Greenwich College you maintain the Britannia at £22,000 a-year plus £15,000 contribution; you maintain the Marlborough and the school at Devonport for engineer students at a cost of £13,393, and £3,000 contribution. You maintain, therefore, a most costly system of education in addition to the Dockyard schools. The whole question of Navy education, I think, ought to be carefully examined by the Admiralty, and is worthy of being examined by the House.

SIR EDWARD REED I should like to say a few words upon that subject, because, having been educated myself in some degree in the Dockyard schools, I know what those schools once were, although I do not know what they are now. They were schools established for the purpose—if the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) will allow me to say so in contradiction to his statement—for the purpose of providing elementary education. There was not, at any rate in. my day, a single particle of professional education imparted in those schools. When I say elementary education, I mean elementary, mathematics, and so on. It was necessary to sustain these schools for a number of years, because in the Dockyard towns there existed no educational appliances worth mentioning. But that state of things has passed away; and now in the common Board schools of the country the children of the working classes are receiving in very many cases an education which it is oftentimes very difficult for a wealthy father to secure for his son, so good is it. Therefore, I contend that the maintenance of schools in the Dockyards for the purpose of teaching elementary and somewhat advanced scientific education—apart from professional education—is an anachronism.

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