to Mr. Phelps.
Washington, March 22, 1888.
Sir: Your dispatch, No. 652, of 7th January last, transmitting Mr. White’s interesting and valuable report of the proceedings at the International Sugar Bounties Conference, held at London between the 24th November and 19th December, 1887, inclusive, was duly received; also your later dispatches on the same general subject, Nos. 666, of 21st January; 672, of 28th January; 678, of 11th February; 684, of 14th February, 1888.
Action on the subject has been delayed, awaiting the receipt of the printed English translation of the voluminous procés-verbaux of the conference, which, from Mr. White’s report, it was supposed would be issued early in February, but has not yet reached me. In the absence of such translation and in view of the impossibility of preparing one in this Department with the limited force at command, the matter has not been in shape either for consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury or for communication to Congress.[Page 707]
My attention is, however, urgently drawn to the subject by a note addressed to me by Sir Lionel West, the British minister, received on the 20th instant, representing the great importance which Her Majesty’s Government attaches to the presence of a delegate from the United States Government at the approaching sugar conference, which opens on the 5th of April, proximo, and that “the negotiations can not be carried to a successful issue unless the United States take part in them.”
I have replied to Sir Lionel, stating the reasons why this Government is at this time unprepared to take part in the approaching conference to the extent of signing the projected convention, or indeed, I may say, any convention calculated to affect the constitutional right of the House of Representatives to originate measures for raising revenue, but expressing willingness, if desired by Her Majesty’s Government, to direct the attendance of Mr. White at the second conference as the delegate of the United States, under the reserve stated. A copy of Sir Lionel’s note and of my reply is herewith inclosed.
If the response to my inquiry be favorable, a telegram, with the correspondence now transmitted, will enable you to instruct Mr. White concerning his duties as a delegate and the limitation of his powers.
By the protocol of the 19th December it was provided that governments contemplating adhesion to the proposed convention should give notice of such intention before March 1 instant, communicating at the same time the system of taxation they may propose for carrying out its provisions, and the method and limits of employing saccharometrie tests. As this Government is at present unprepared to accept the convention itself, it is likewise unprepared to give the detailed statements suggested, especially as the nature of the sugar tests and the scheme of tax collection in this country are pending subjects of legislation.
I also transmit for your legation files, copy of a note addressed to me by Sir Lionel on January 14 last, expressing the thanks of Her Majesty’s Government for the attendance of Mr. White at the conference, also a copy of a memorandum handed to me by Sir Lionel West, on the 7th instant.
I am, etc.,