HC Deb 20 December 1916 vol 88 cc1422-3
4. Mr. KING

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the claim is maintained by this country, or instructions have been given to naval commanders, that neutral vessels on voyage between two neutral countries may be stopped and searched with a view to the removal of British subjects, or the subjects of Allied countries, and to be followed by the conveying persons so taken under custody to this country?


Neutral vessels are stopped and searched in accordance with the belligerent rights of visit and search. If in course of such search in territorial waters British subjects, or subjects of Allied Powers, are found on board who there is reason to suppose have committed an offence against our laws, it is manifestly within the rights of the Navy to remove such persons with a view to their being prosecuted for such offence.


Can my right hon. Friend point to any place in the Manual of Military Law where this right is recognised?


No; I accept it on the advice of my advisers.


Is my right hon. Friend aware that international lawyers very much question this right?


No; I am not aware of that.

5. Mr. KING

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether Russian subjects have been removed from a Danish ship on voyage from Norway to the United States; if so, how many; whether such action has been taken on instructions issued from the Home Office, the Foreign Office, or from the Russian Government; and whether any charges of a criminal character have been made against persons so apprehended?


Four Russian subjects were removed from a Danish ship on their way from Sweden to the United States in possession of papers which authorised them to leave England for the purpose of returning to Russia. As their papers were obtained by false statements, they were consequently arrested in order to be charged with an offence under the Defence of the Realm Regulations.

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