HC Deb 22 July 1914 vol 65 cc433-4
2. Mr. KING

asked whether our armed merchantmen will be free to offer forcible resistance to the right of search which might be demanded in a naval war in which Great Britain was neutral; and whether a belligerent would be entitled to assume that the presence of guns on board a neutral ship proved that contraband was being carried or that forcible or hostile action was being intended?

The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Churchill)

The answer to both parts of the question is in the negative.


Has this question of international law been considered not only by the First Lord, but by his legal advisers in connection with this policy of the arming of merchantmen?


Yes, Sir.

3. Mr. KING

asked whether, in the case of armed merchantmen entering foreign or Colonial ports, any difficulties have arisen in connection with the ammunition on board; whether the amount and character of the ammunition have to be declared; and whether any extra dues or expenses incurred by the carrying of ammunition on these vessels are borne by the Admiralty?


Up to the present no difficulties have arisen and no extra expenses have been incurred, but the point raised in the second part of the question depends upon local port regulations, which differ, and I do not desire to make any further statement at present on the subject.