to Mr. McLane.
Washington, May 5, 1887.
Sir: I have received your No. 386, of the 6th ultimo, inclosing the original of the explanatory protocol of the 1st of December last to the submarine cables convention, and requesting instructions as to what action you shall take at the next conference of the representatives of the signatory powers, which is to meet in Paris on the 1st of July next. The object of this conference is to agree upon a day at which the convention shall take effect, and determine the situation of such of the contracting parties as have not adopted appropriate legislation to that end.
Under date of the 14th ultimo I received from the French minister at this capital a note transmitting a dispatch from his Government, inclosing drafts of two final protocols, to which you refer in your dispatch, and which will be laid before the approaching conference. I have answered this note, and inclose herewith a copy of the answer.*
The first of the protocols in question proposes absolutely to fix a day upon which the convention shall take effect. But as Congress has not yet adopted legislation to execute the provisions of the convention, no such day can be definitely agreed upon by this Government at the present time. A bill to provide for the execution of the convention passed the House of Representatives on the 8th of February last, and was sent [Page 295] to the Senate, where it was referred, on the 10th of the same month, to the Committee on Foreign Relations, but no definitive action was taken.
The second draft of a protocol, inclosed by the French minister, provided that the convention shall take effect on a day to be fired by the plenipotentiaries of the signatory powers at their next session at Paris; but it also provides that if on that day any of the Governments in question shall not have adopted the requisite legislation to execute the convention, its operation shall be suspended as regards such state until notice shall be given by it to the contracting parties, through the French Government, of the adoption of appropriate legislation. To this protocol no objection is found, and you are hereby authorized to sign it, subject to the ratification of the Senate, before which body the explanatory protocol above referred to is now pending, and as the convention is now awaiting, for its execution, the action of Congress, it is not apprehended that this course will be productive of any delay.
I am, etc.,