No. 146.
Mr. Lowell to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 877]

Sir: Referring to my No. 771 of the 13th of May last, I have the honor of inclosing a copy of my letter to Lord Granville calling his attention to the imposition of a customs duty upon kerosene oil at Ceylon already in transit from the United States to that colony before the passage of the law authorizing the levying of such duty. I also inclose a copy of a: note which I have just received from Lord Granville, communicating the final decision of the governor and council of Ceylon in relation to this matter, by which it will be observed that no exemption can be made from the operation of the local customs ordinance in favor of kerosene oil in transit from America to the colony at the time of the passing of the ordinance.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 877.]

Mr. Lowell to Lord Granville .

My Lord: I have the honor to acquaint you that the Department of State at Washington has been informed that it is proposed by the legislative authority of the colony of Ceylon to levy a duty upon kerosene oil, heretofore free, to take effect upon the [Page 223] passage of the law, without excepting from its provisions kerosene oil then, in transit from the United States.

I am instructed to call your lordship’s attention to this matter, with the statement that the Government of the United States entertains the view that it is very desirable that sudden changes in colonial tariffs should not be allowed, to affect bona fide shipments en route at the time, and requests me to express the hope that the Imperial Government may be able to afford adequate relief to American shippers who may have been injuriously affected by the legislation of Ceylon.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 877.]

Lord Granville to Mr. Lowell.

Sir: With reference to my note of the 5th of May last, I have now the honor to acquaint you that the secretary of state for the colonies has received a report from the governor of Ceylon to the effect that in the opinion of his council and himself no exemption can be made from the operation of the local customs ordinance No. 14 of 1884 in favor of kerosene oil in transit from America to the colony at the time of the passing of the ordinance.

The Earl of Derby, while forwarding the copy, which I beg to inclose herewith, of the minister of the Ceylon executive council, observes that it has been ascertained that the above decision of the local government is in accordance with the imperial practice, to which the commissioners of customs can find no exception, and his lordship can therefore only express his regret that it is not in his power to entertain favorably the representation on this matter which was made on behalf of the United States Government in your note dated the 29th of April.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 3 in No. 877.]

The executive council is not prepared to grant the relief advocated by the United States minister in England, for the following reasons:

In accordance with customs laws, no cognizance can be taken of floating cargoes whenever it is found necessary to impose duties which may affect such cargoes, and the local ordinance, No. 17 of 1869 is very distinct upon this point, inasmuch as it declares that, in respect of an importation, the time for the first levying of duty shall be deemed to be the time at which the ship has actually come within the limits of the port where the goods are to be discharged. It should also be borne in mind that until the 31st March, 1878, there was an ad valorem duty of 5 per cent, levied upon kerosene oil, and that its reimposition became necessary from a falling off of the revenue. It was publicly known that this measure was recommended to the Government by the retrenchment committee in the early part of 1883, and an objection to the duty by the United States consul in Colombo was considered in executive council and subsequently in the legislative council, but the sense of both councils was against granting the concession applied for or deferring the operation of the law by which the duty has been reimposed.

  • R. W. D. MOIR.
  • W. D. WRIGHT.
  • J. MacLEOD.
  • G. J. M. O’BRIEN.