My Lords, I desire to put to the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs a Question of which I have already given him notice, namely, "What amount of protection is the British flag supposed to confer upon British subjects or others who are on board a ship flying the British flag?" I have put this Question because there is an idea—it may be an erroneous idea—that the officers of a foreign Power cannot arrest anyone on board a British ship and take him from under the British flag unless armed with a letter from either the British Minister or the British Consul authorising them to do so.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess of LANSDOWNE)
The noble Lord has put a Question to me in very general terms, and he will not be surprised if I reply in equally general language. The best information which I have been able to collect for him is to this effect, that, speaking generally, a British ship on the high seas is regarded as British territory. Persons on board, whether British or foreigners, are regarded as being on British territory, and have the same protection and rights as though they were actually on British territory.