3 APRIL 1880, Page 2

The controversy raised by the First Lord of the Admiralty

last Thursday week as to the relative merits of the previous and. the present Administration in regard to the development of the Navy, has been continued this week, in letters to the Times. byMr. Lefevre and the First Lord of the Admiralty himself, and. by a very interesting speech of Mr. Childers's on the subject, delivered on Monday in his canvas at Pontefract. The truth appears to be that while the last Liberal Administration built a great deal more, and especially built a great many more iron- clads, than the present Administration, the latter, while spend- ing much more on the Navy, and spending that much more during times in which money went a great deal farther than it. did during the high-priced times of the Liberal Administration,. have devoted themselves chiefly to mending, patching, and finish- ing, so that a much larger tonnage of ships is now ready for im- mediate use than was ready for immediate use when the late Gov- ernment retired, in 1874. Which of the two Administrations really added most effectually to the strength of the Navy as it is, must re- main to be determined when Parliament meets. But it is clear,. from Mr. Smith's own admission, that the main foundation of the existing naval power of England was laid by the late Administration, and that the merit of the present Administra- tion, whatever it be, consists chiefly in finishing-off what their predecessors began.