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Maritime Law

Volume 236: debated on Tuesday 4 March 1930

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asked the Prime Minister whether in connection with the discussions at the Naval Conference concerning the protection of merchant ships in time of war against being sunk by submarines without the safety of the crews and passengers being ensured, the Government will consider the necessity of provision being made by international law for similar protection against sinkings by seaplanes or aeroplanes?

While I will certainly consider the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman I cannot guarantee that the matter will be discussed during the present Conference.


asked the Prime Minister in view of the fact that the second schedule of the treaties of Washington, known as the Root Resolutions, was signed by all the nations taking part, and subsequently ratified by all except France, whether the Government will adhere to these resolutions so that the lives of neutrals and non-combatants are fully protected against any form of attack from air or sea on merchant vessels except when the vessels refuse to submit to visit and search, and no merchant vessel can be seized until its character has been determined by visit and search?

As the hon. and gallant Member is of course aware, the question of air attacks upon merchant ships was not touched upon in the Washington Treaty. The submarine parts of the Washington Treaty are now being considered.

Surely, if the right hon. Gentleman looks back at the Boot Resolutions, he will find that they certainly cover air attack without mentioning it, and all forms of attack on merchant ships?

Quite obviously, this is a subject that has to be taken up as a consequence of anything that may be done at the Conference.