§ 14. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether some ninety men of the Royal Marines are in prison serving sentences of penal servitude for offences in North Russia; whether many of these men have completed five years' service; whether they were ordered at short notice to proceed to North Russia foi1 shore service; whether they were volunteers for this service; whether he can explain the circumstances of their imprisonment; and whether these men are allowed visits from their relatives?
§ 17. Colonel WEDGWOOD
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether there are now ninety-three men of the Royal Marine Force in His Majesty's naval prison, Bodmin, Cornwall, who were court-martialled on the charge of cowardice in 894 Northern Russia and condemned to two years' imprisonment; whether these men, some of whom had completed five years' service, were dispatched from England last August ostensibly to Germany, but six hours before sailing their destination was announced to be Northern Russia; whether on arrival they refused to fight since they came merely as a relief force; and whether clemency can now be extended to them?
§ Major SPOOR
Will the right hon. Gentleman include in his answer a reply to a question I put on the Paper last week dealing with the same subject, and citing a specific case?
§ Mr. LONG
I am afraid I have not that question here. That is a specific case which is being separately inquired into. In answer to the question on the Paper, members of a Royal Marine battalion lately serving with the Army in North Russia were sentenced by various field general courts-martial, on charges of the nature of disobedience of orders or refusal to fight, to terms of imprisonment or penal servitude. These courts-martial are at present before the Board of Admiralty in their judicial capacity for review, and I should, therefore, be glad if questions on this subject could be deferred until the Board have had an opportunity of considering the cases of the men referred to.
§ Mr. JOHN JONES
Seeing that war has never been declared against Russia, how can these men be court-martialled?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
When an hon. Member asks a question, it is customary to wait until the answer is given.
§ Mr. LONG
It must be obvious that that is a question which I cannot possibly answer. The cases are numerous. If the hon. Member means to suggest that there will be any unnecessary delay, there is no foundation for it. They are under inquiry now. The Board of Admiralty are just as humane as the hon. Member claims to be.