HC Deb 23 June 1954 vol 529 cc27-8W
60 and 61. Mr. H. Johnson

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty (1) what information he has as to the present whereabouts of 839654 Able Seaman Terence Braden, who was last heard of on the Admiralty yacht "Elinor" off the China coast on 4th June, 1954;

(2) what precautions are taken to ensure the safety of naval personnel on pleasure cruises in naval vessels off the China coast; and whether, if it is not possible to take adequate safety measures, such pleasure cruises will be banned.

64. Mr. McKay

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the circumstances under which Able Seaman Kenneth Wilkinson, along with others, was arrested in Chinese waters by the Chinese authorities; and what steps are being taken to obtain the release of these British seamen.

Mr. J. P. L. Thomas

The yacht "Elinor" is privately owned and administered by an inter-Services Committee at Hong Kong, which rents her to qualified Service personnel for recreation and issues the necessary instructions for her cruises. Local orders limit the yacht's journeys to Hong Kong waters which are well defined, and these limits are impressed upon those using the yacht.

The "Elinor" had been hired by an officer from Her Majesty's Ship "Concord," who bad been in charge of her on two previous occasions, with a crew of eight from Her Majesty's Ship "Concord." The yacht left Hong Kong on 1st June for a five-day recreational cruise to Tolo harbour—which is within the limits to which I referred. They were expected to return on 6th June.

After unsuccessful air and surface searches had been carried out, the Chinese People's Government were asked to assist to trace the yacht. They said that she was found in Chinese territorial waters and taken into port by the local authorities on 1st June and that the crew were reported to be fit and being well treated and entertained by the local authorities. The yacht and crew have now been sent to Canton and I have every reason to hope that they will soon be released and returned to Hong Kong. Until then, the full circumstances of this incident will not be known.