HC Deb 19 July 1898 vol 62 cc297-8

On behalf of the honourable Member for Lynn Regis, I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty if he can state whether several seamen gunners were induced, by the offer of wages of 500 dollars per month, to desert from Her Majesty's ships at Hong-kong to take service in the United States Squadron then there, which subsequently destroyed the Spanish Squadron at Manila?

THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN, St. George's,) Hanover Square

No one at the Admiralty has heard a word of such a rumour. I may add, with reference to another alleged enlistment, namely, of the signalman Matthews, lately tried by court-martial at Devonport, I have received a letter from Lieutenant Colwell, Naval Attaché of the United States, in which he writes— That any officer of the U.S. Navy would attempt to induce an enlisted man of a friendly Power to desert I distinctly deny, and in nearly 30 years' service I have never known a deserter from a foreign service knowingly enlisted in my service. Foreign trained men are not looked upon with favour in the U.S. Navy, and for several years there has existed a law which absolutely forbids the enlistment therein of any but citizens, native or naturalised, of the U.S., or of aliens who had already taken the preliminary legal steps for becoming naturalised citizens. The Naval Attaché to the American Embassy has desired me to give publicity to this statement.


May I ask the right honourable Gentleman whether his attention has been called to a statement in this morning's papers—apparently of an official character—denying that any British subject is employed as gunner on any of the United States ships at Manila?


I have not received any official statement except that which I have just read to the House, and which I received from the United States Naval Attaché.

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