Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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James Graham (1792-1861)

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Sir James Robert George Graham, second baronet (1792–1861)

1830 Became First Lord of the Admiralty

Gave effect to promises of more economical and efficient administration of this high-spending department. He worked hard to root out inefficiencies in the Admiralty, lengthening hours of work and reducing salaries. He established the navy appropriation account, which explained how the money voted in the estimates had actually been spent, and was to be presented to the House of Commons each year. This became the model for the general government appropriation accounts established later in the century.

In the interests of rationalization, centralization, and parliamentary accountability, he also abolished the semi-autonomous navy and victualling boards and reorganized the civil departments of the navy under the responsibility of individual members of the Admiralty board, over which the first lord presided. This greatly increased the power of the first lord himself but created difficulties for the future, especially in wartime when the enormous burden of mundane civil business borne by the board members left them with insufficient time to devise battle strategy.

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