HC Deb 05 July 1928 vol 219 cc1583-5W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether it has been decided to complete the reconstruction of the Indian Royal Marine with a view to making it a combatant force; and whether it will assume functions and serve under conditions regarding pay, pensions, etc., as were originally intended for the proposed Royal Indian Navy.


The answer to both parts of the Question is in the affirmative. I append herewith a copy of a communiqué recently issued by the Government of India which explains the situation.


1. On 21st February, 1928, the Indian Navy (Discipline) Bill was introduced in the Legislative Assembly. The main object of this Measure was to apply the Naval Discipline Act with suitable modifications, to the naval forces raised and maintained by the Governor-General in Council, in order that substantially the same code of discipline should apply to those forces as is in operation in British and Dominion navies. The motion of the Government to refer the Bill to a Select Committee was, however, negatived by one vote, and, in consequence the Government of India have reconsidered their policy in regard to the constitution of an Indian Navy.

2. Alter full consideration and consultation with His Majesty's Government, it has been decided to proceed under the limited powers inherent in existing law, and, in accordance with the recommendations of the Departmental Committee of 1925, to complete the reconstructon of the Royal Indian Marine which has been in process for the last two years in preparation for the inauguration of a Royal Indian Navy, and is already far advanced.

3. The future position will thus be as follows: the Force will continue to be designated "The Royal Indian Marine," but will become a combatant force, and will assume the functions and serve under conditions regarding pay, pensions, etc., which were originally intended for the proposed Royal Indian Navy. The Government of India will continue to follow their declared policy with regard to the recruitment of Indians to commissioned and warrant ranks of the Service, and the rate at which such recruitment should proceed. One commissioned vacancy in three, both in the executive and the engineer branches of the Service, will be reserved for Indians and will be open to competitive examination in India on terms and conditions that will, it is hoped, be announced shortly. The discipline of the Force will continue to be regulated under the Indian Marine Act of 1887 which is in itself a Discipline Act, but the change to combatant status will render enrolment under that Act compulsory instead of, as hitherto, optional in the lower ranks. The extent of the Act is limited to Indian waters, that is to say, the high seas between the Cape of Good Hope on the West and the Straits of Magellan on the East, and any territorial waters between those limits. The command of the reorganised Force will remain vested in the Director of the Marine who will be styled Flag Officer Commanding and Director of the Royal Indian Marine. In the first instance an officer of the Royal Navy of the rank of Rear-Admiral will be lent for this purpose by His Majesty's Government. His appointment will be announced shortly, and will probably take effect from middle of November next. In the meantime, the Force will remain under the command of the present Director—Captain E. J. Headlam, C.S.I., D.S.O., R.I.M. The circumstances in which and the conditions under which the Force may, in emergencies, be placed at the disposal of His Majesty's Government are determined by the relevant provisions of the Government of India Act.