I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any report from His Majesty's Acting Consul-General at the port of Yokohama, Japan, of the proceedings of the Naval Court which was summoned by the Acting Consul-General at Yokohama, on 12th April, 1904, to inquire into the charge of wilful
disobedience to lawful commands preferred by the master of the ss. "Ras Bera" against twenty-one of the crew of that vessel; whether he is aware that twenty-one men refused to proceed on the vessel on the ground that she was carrying contraband of war; that at the trial the crew of the vessel produced His Majesty's proclamation of neutrality; and that the Naval Court ordered the twenty-one men to be dismissed from their ship and to forfeit their wages; and whether, in view of the results entailed by the refusal of assistance to these men by the Acting Consul-General, he will state if this official was justified in acting in this manner; and if he will cause inquiries to be made at once into this matter.† See (4) Debates, cxxix., 1326.
Yes, Sir; I have received the report of the Naval Court held at Yokohama in April to investigate the complaint made by the master of the Ras Bera," that certain members of the crew were guilty of continued disobedience to lawful commands, and continued wilful neglect of duty and general insubordination subversive of discipline. The Naval Court, having heard evidence on both sides, found the charge proved, and passed the sentence referred to in the Question. From the information I have received, it appears that the vessel did not carry contraband of war. The matter was dealt with by a duly constituted Court with the Acting Consul-General as President, and the Executive have no power to interfere with the finding.