§ 33. Mr. Reynolds
asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty how many naval personnel have been charged with civil offences in South African courts; and what sentences were imposed
§ Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
Over the past two years ten naval ratings have been charged in South African courts for civil offences; of this total, two cases were withdrawn and one man was acquitted. The maximum sentence imposed was six months imprisonment with compulsory labour and six strokes of the cane.
§ Mr. Reynolds
What representations has the hon. Gentleman made to the Government of South Africa with regard to the sentence of whipping imposed on a naval rating? Will he look into the application or possible extension of the Visiting Forces Act to the Union of South Africa and stop this kind of sentence being passed? May ask what instructions are given to officers and men of the Royal Navy visiting foreign ports about the peculiarities or ridiculous aspects of legislation in that country?
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
My responsibility is to see that strict measures are taken to ensure that naval personnel, before they go ashore, are thoroughly warned on the current laws of South Africa, and I have assured myself that that is done very thoroughly. To put the matter in perspective, I would ask the hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that, even taking last year only, about 3,000 naval personnel went ashore, so this is a very small percentage of that number.