No. 498.
Mr. Phelps to Mr. Bayard.

No. 625.]

Sir: Referring to your circular instruction of July 9 with reference to the amendment of the laws relating to shipping, I have the honor to acquaint you that I lost no time in forwarding a copy of the same to Her Majesty’s Government and in inviting their co-operation in the matter. The Marquis of Salisbury’s reply to my communication has just reached me, and I inclose herewith a copy of the same.

I have, etc.,

E. J. Phelps.
[Inclosure in No. 625.]

The Marquis of Salisbury to Mr. Phelps.

Sir: I lost no time in referring to the board of trade your letter of August 15, inviting the co-operation of Her Majesty’s Government with that of the United States with a view to lightening the burdens on shipping and amending the laws relating to shipping, etc., and also asking for information as to whether any, and, if so, what discrimination exists in this country against vessels of the United States as compared with British vessels or the vessels of any other country.

I have now the honor to state to you that I am informed by the board of trade that there are no such discriminating duties on United States vessels as compared with British vessels in ports of the United Kingdom. Such indeed would be contrary to the convention of commerce between this country and the United States of July 3, 1815, clause ii of which stipulates that “no higher or other duties or charges shall be imposed in any of the ports of the United States on British vessels than those payable in the same ports by vessels of the United States, nor in the ports of His Britannic Majesty’s territories in Europe on the vessels of the United States than shall be payable in the same ports on British vessels.”

This stipulation, so far as the United Kingdom is concerned, was carried into effect by the Act 59, George III, chapter 54, clause viii.

It is, moreover, the general and long-established policy of the United Kingdom, apart from treaties, not to impose discriminating duties of any kind, whether on ships or cargoes; and even the coasting trade of the United Kingdom is freely open to vessels of the United States as to other foreign vessels, although the United States does not admit British vessels to reciprocal privileges in her coasting trade.

As regards the request of the United States Government for co-operation in reducing or lightening light-house or tonnage dues on shipping between the ports of the British Empire and those of the United States, I am informed by the board of trade that the whole subject of light-house dues in the United Kingdom is being inquired into, with the view of ascertaining whether any revision or re-adjustment of those dues can be made, but not with any intention on the part of Her Majesty’s Government to abolish them.

The board of trade are also making inquiries as to whether there are any ports in the United Kingdom where the light-house dues in the trade with the United States are lower than the tonnage dues now leviable in the United States, so that, as regards these ports, British vessels would be entitled to the reciprocal treatment promised in the circular which accompanied your note; and as soon as I shall have heard the result of those inquiries, I shall have the honor of addressing a further communication to you.

I have, etc.,