§ 70. Mr. HOLT
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that the Admiralty have refused to issue their confidential instructions to Captain James Riepenhausen, a master mariner in the employ of Messrs. Alfred Holt and Company, of Liverpool; whether any reason for this refusal has ever been alleged or exists other than that Captain Riepenhausen's father was a Hanoverian who had lived in Great Britain since the age of thirteen; whether he is aware that Captain Riepenhausen's mother was a Scottish woman and that he himself is a natural-born British subject; whether this refusal to permit Captain Riepenhausen to carry on his profession is in pursuance of any general rule, and, if so, what is that rule, and how many other persons have been affected thereby; and whether such rule, if it exists, applies equally to officers of the Royal Navy and officials in the Admiralty?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
My right hon. Friend, who has had to leave London on important official business, asks me to say that he has given this case his close personal attention. It is the fact that some time ago the Admiralty decided to restrict the issue of their confidential instructions to the masters of British merchant ships who are British subjects and are the sons of parents who at the time of the son's birth were themselves British subjects by birth or naturalisation. This is the same rule as that now adopted by the Board of Trade for the period of the War in the case of candidates for a master's certificate of proficiency. It is clear that Captain Riepenhausen does not fulfil the conditions stated. It is true that he is himself a natural-born British subject, but his father, who was born in Hanover, did not become a naturalised British subject until seven years after the birth of his son. The integrity and trustworthiness of Captain Riepenhausen are in no way doubted. The only question is whether a principle, which my right hon. Friend feels confident the House will recognise to be sound and necessary, should or should not be sacrificed to meet the circumstances of an individual case, however deserving. My right hon. Friend, after the fullest consideration, has come to the conclusion that now of all times no precaution to safeguard the British mercantile marine must be neglected, that an exception in this case could not be made without serious injustice to other individual masters similarly placed, and that, therefore, the decision must stand.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
As regards persons in a similar position to Captain Riepenhausen it will apply to them.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
That I cannot say. If my hon. Friend wants the information, I will get the Regulations affecting entry to the Royal Navy and the Royal Naval Air Service, the Civil establishments of the Admiralty and the lower deck are varied. My hon. Friend shall have it 805 fully if he wishes it. In one particular they correspond to this precisely. In other cases they do not.
§ Mr. DILLON
Will the rule that the right hon. Gentleman has just laid down be applied to members of the War Cabinet of Hanoverian origin who are not natural-born British subjects?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Is it not true that a Gentleman with a foreign name which he has recently changed is employed in the Chief Whip's Office of the Government? [HON. MEMBERS: "Rosenbaum."]