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Armed Merchantmen

Volume 65: debated on Thursday 30 July 1914

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also asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will indicate the trade routes followed by the forty armed merchantmen which have been armed by the Admiralty for defence against possible attack?

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that the guns with which British armed merchantmen are being furnished are of an obsolete type and over twenty years old; and whether guns of a more up-to-date character will in future be provided?

In the opinion of the Admiralty, the guns supplied are adequate for the purpose.

next asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what Powers have reserved to themselves at the second Hague Conference and the London Conference the right to convert merchant steamers into cruisers either in harbour or, if necessary, on the high seas; and whether any information has been received that these Powers are actually preparing to adopt this policy on any outbreak of war?

All Powers have the right to convert merchant ships into cruisers in harbour. The question of conversion on the high seas remains open under the convention agreed to by the Powers. I am not able to make any statement in reply to the last part of the question.