No. 534.
Mr. Heap to Mr. Hunter.

No. 278.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose a copy of the proceedings of a meeting of the consuls to consider the letter of the prime minister, dated 31st July last, in reference to the insufficiency of the light-house dues, a translation of which I transmitted with my dispatch No. 277, dated second instant.

The increase of dues recommended by the consuls will not produce an amount sufficient to cover the annual deficit, which is even greater than that stated in the minister’s letter, but will reduce it considerably, and the government will be urged to exercise a stricter supervision over the expenditure, which, it is believed, has been needlessly lavish. They have also been earnestly requested to enjoin greater care in maintaining the lights in a state of efficiency.

Although the Tunisian Government has the incontestible right to modify these dues to suit its own convenience or necessities without consulting the opinion or obtaining the consent of other governments, they are unwilling to adopt the new rate until it has received the approval of the governments represented here.

I am, & c.,

[Inclosure No. 278.—Translation.]

Proceedings of a consular meeting on the 8th of August, 1878, to consider the question of lighthouse dues.

The dean of the consular corps, Sir Richard Wood, having read a letter from his excellency the prime minister of His Highness, in which the Tunisian Government calls the attention of the consular corps to the precarious condition of the light-house administration, the expenses of which considerably exceed the receipts, and the government [Page 933] is of opinion that the dues at present paid for the maintenance of the lights on the coasts of his states should he increased.

Messrs. Heap and Cubisal, who have examined the question carefully, present a project of reform as follows:

“All vessels anchoring at any port of the regency, including those engaged in the coasting trade, shall pay a tax of 8 centimes per ton measurement.

“All vessels under 36 tons anchoring in the harbor of the Goletta shall pay a fixed duty of 5 piasters.

“All vessels anchoring as above, measuring over 38 and under 100 tons, shall pay 10 piasters.

“All vessels anchoring as above, measuring over 100 tons, shall pay 20 piasters.”

This project receives the approbation, ad referendum, of all the representatives. The cons ill of France makes the following reservation, which is concurred in by the consul of Belgium:

“The Tunisian light-houses, having caused numerous well-grounded complaints on the part of navigators of every nationality, it is to be understood that the concurrence of the two above-named consuls to the proposed increase of dues is given on the express condition that the Tunisian Government shall bind itself to give more efficiency to the light-house service. The dangers to which the negligence of the keepers has exposed navigation fully justify these remarks. In case fresh complaints are made, the consuls of France and Belgium will, on finding them well founded, immediately relieve the persons under their jurisdiction from the payment of all light-house dues in the ports of the regency.”

The acting consul of Italy expresses his concurrence in this declaration.

The other representatives declare that they reserve their action in this matter until complaint shall reach them of negligence on the part of keepers of light-houses.

    Her Britannic Majesty’s Agent and Consul-General.
    Consul of the Netherlands.
    Consul-General of Austro-Hungary.
  • G. H. HEAP,
    Consul of the United States.
  • E. CASSAS,
    Consul and Acting Consul-General of France.
    Vice-Consul, Acting Consul-General of Italy.
    Vice-Consul, Acting Consul-General of Germany.
    Consul of Belgium.