MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, have the Admiralty considered the uncertainty arising from the Board of Trade notices warning British merchant ships not to approach His Majesty's ships when in squadron or fleet formation, and the impression thereby produced that, under those circumstances, His Majesty's ships are not bound to observe the rule of 1329 the road at sea by keeping out of the way of such merchant ships, as prescribed by the rules, but that merchant ships passing through a fleet or squadron do so at their own risk; and will the Admiralty consider the propriety of issuing an order to make it clear that His Majesty's ships, whether in squadron or fleet formation or not, are equally bound with all other ships to obey the rule of the road at sea by keeping out of the way of other ships as prescribed by the rules.
§ * THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. PRETYMAN,) Suffolk, Woodbridge
The Board of Trade does not warn British merchant vessels that they are not to approach His Majesty's ships when in squadron or fleet formation. The notices issued merely point out the danger which is caused by single vessels approaching a squadron so closely as to involve risk of collision, which is quite a different thing. There is no necessity for the Admiralty to issue any special order to make it clear that His Majesty's ships are to obey the international rules for the prevention of collision, as these rules hold good, have never been cancelled, and are acted on by the officers of His Majesty's Navy.
§ * MR. PRETYMAN
They were not ordered not to approach His Majesty's ships, but they were warned of the danger of doing so under certain circumstances.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
In fact, they were ordered to keep out of the way. Does the hon. Gentleman deny that?