HC Deb 28 May 1919 vol 116 cc1193-5

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty whether the Board of Admiralty will consider the advisability of promoting a closer relationship between the personnel of the Royal Navy and the Mercantile Marine in the interests of both Services?


It is not necessary to say that the Board of Admiralty cordially endorses the spirit underlying this question. As a matter of fact, various questions affecting the future of the personnel of the Mercantile Marine have already engaged the attention of the Admiralty, who sometime ago appointed a Committee to consider the whole subject. Before proceeding to a determination of the suggestions of that Committee, the Board has sent its Report to the National Maritime Board for their views.

Perhaps I may be allowed to say that, as a small evidence of the estimation in which the officers and men of the Mercantile Marine are held by the Royal Navy, it has been decided that an endeavour will be made to get together representative crews of the officers and men of the Mercantile Marine who have been torpedoed, and invite them to take part in the public reception in London which will be given to Admiral Beatty and representatives of the officers and men of the Royal Navy.

Further, the Mercantile Marine are included in the Naval Memorial Service to be held at St. Paul's Cathedral on Friday, 13th June, when a contingent of 200 officers and men will attend.

Commander BELLAIRS

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Report of which he speaks has never been made public, and although it came out months ago it has only just reached the National Maritime Board?


I think that is quite likely. The Board has had it under discussion, but it has not gone into the recommendations, and it has been sent to that Board for their views upon it.


asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the opinion that has been publicly expressed by the First Sea Lord and other officers of the British Navy as well as by the leading seamen's associations of the country that there should be for the benefit of the Services, and therefore of the Empire, a closer association between the personnel of the British Navy and the British Mercantile Marine, the powers now held by the Board of Trade, under the Merchant Shipping Act or other Acts, in regard to examination for certifi- cates of competency, navigation, rule of the road, life-saving appliances, accommodation, and the general supervision of the welfare, discipline, and seamanship of the Mercantile Marine would be more appropriately held by the Admiralty instead of by the Board of Trade; whether, as the affairs of the soldier are in the hands of the War Office, the affairs of the seamen should be in the hands of a seamen's Department; and if he will set up a representative Committee forthwith to examine and report?

Mr. BONAR LAW(Leader of the House)

The Government fully realises the desirability of as close an association as possible being maintained between the personnel of the Royal Navy and Mercantile Marine. I do not think that the proposal contained in the last part of the question is a practicable one.

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