HC Deb 03 July 1918 vol 107 cc1692-3
10. Major NEWMAN

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, since the outbreak of hostilities, a number of coast watchers for the Irish seaboard have been recruited; if so, will he say what pay these men earn; are they whole-time officials; what is their average age; do they have to make any affirmation of allegiance; and is the competent naval authority satisfied that these coast watchers are capable of carrying out the work which the present development of the War has imposed on them?


Yes, Sir; a number of civilian coast watchers have been recruited for the Irish seaboard since the outbreak of war. Their pay varies, according to locality, from 22s. to 25s. 6d. a week. They are whole-time employés, working in watches. Their average age is forty-five. They all, on first engagement, sign an agreement to obey orders given them by members of the Coastguard Force. As regards the last part of the question, I have not had time to make local detailed inquiry which would enable me fully to answer this question, but I propose to do so.


May I take it that these coast watchers do not, as a fact, take an oath of allegiance, but merely that they will do their duty to the Admiralty?


I presume they enter into the agreement which all coast watchers take, whether they are in Wales, Scotland, England, or Ireland, so far as I know.

Colonel ASHLEY

What steps are taken to ascertain the character of these coast watchers? It is notorious that certain of them are very doubtful.


That would be a matter for the competent naval authority on the spot. I have said with regard to the last part of the question that I propose to make a more detailed inquiry.


Has the right hon. Gentleman any reason to doubt that these men do their duty?

Colonel ASHLEY

Great reason!

57. Major NEWMAN

asked the Prime Minister whether the War Cabinet are satisfied with the joint responsibility for the watching of the Western seaboard of Ireland, which is exercised by the police, the naval Coastguards, and the Military Intelligence Department; what means have been taken to ensure co-ordination and co-operation of method between these three bodies; and is it proposed to proclaim the whole Western seaboard a military area under the Defence of the Realm Regulations?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Bonar Law)

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. It would not be in the public interest to answer the second part; and as regards the last part, the answer is in the negative.