§ MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in the impending courts martial for recent collisions, he will follow the precedent of the "Cobra" court martial of 1901 by so extending the power of the court as to enable them to blame the Admiralty if in their opinion the fault lies with a system rather than with the officers concerned.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. MCKENNA,) Monmouthshire, N.
My hon. friend is in error in his interpretation of the circumstances connected with the "Cobra" court martial. The Admiralty has no power to limit or extend the powers of a court martial, which are strictly defined by the Naval Discipline Act. That Act confers no power on a court martial to praise or blame the Admiralty, who, not being one of the persons mentioned in Sections 87, 88, or 89 of that Act, are not amenable to the jurisdiction of a naval court martial.
§ MR. BELLAIRS
Is the right hon. gentleman aware that the "Cobra" court martial brought in a verdict blaming the Admiralty for buying vessels into the service? Will he concede similar powers to these other courts martial? And is he prepared to order an inquiry into the whole question of nucleus crews?
§ MR. MCKENNA
No, Sir. My hon. friend is mistaken. The Admiralty allowed no extension to the "Cobra" court martial of the ordinary rules and it had no power to do so. Powers of courts martial are defined by statute.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
Could not this question be settled by appointing a Lord High Admiral?