Sir Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Gresham.
Sir: With reference to previous correspondence in regard to the alterations in the regulations for preventing collisions at sea, recommended by the Washington Maritime Conference in 1889, I have the honor to inform you that Her Majesty’s Government, after carefully considering the criticisms of foreign and colonial governments and British shipowners on their proposals, have decided to adhere to the regulations which they proposed in 1892.
It will be remembered that in 1891 Her Majesty’s Government proposed to adopt the Washington regulations, with the omission of article 9, and with five alterations in the remaining thirty articles, but that, in deference to the opinions expressed by foreign governments, two of these alterations were withdrawn in 1892 and a third was put forward in a modified form, article 9 being still omitted.
In this form the regulations have received the general approval of the several foreign maritime powers, and Her Majesty’s Government consider that no time should now be lost in taking steps to carry them into-effect, and they now propose, after careful consideration, to enforce the regulations shown in the inclosed paper on and from the 1st of March, 1895.
Having regard to the paramount importance of securing international agreement with regard to these regulations, I am instructed to express a hope that the same course will be adopted as that determined on by Her Majesty’s Government, in order that the rules may become law in both countries on the same day.
The regulations proposed for adoption, which consist of the Washington rules, with the omission of article 9, and with slight alterations in three of the remaining thirty articles, have, as above stated, already received the general approval of the principal maritime countries. Article 9 has been reserved in deference not only to the opinion expressed by the technical advisers of Her Majesty’s Government, but also to the views expressed by the majority of the North Sea powers, and proposals in view of a satisfactory settlement of the question of fishing vessels’ lights, and the further questions of steam pilot vessels’ lights, and the right of way of steam trawlers will be made at an early date.
In urging the adoption of these regulations, I am to explain that the proposal of any amendments at the present time must have the effect of delaying indefinitely the settlement of the whole question, and I [Page 261] am to point out that Her Majesty’s Government have withdrawn certain of the amendments which they proposed in 1891, because they feel strongly that it is only by sinking minor differences that the already protracted discussion of the Washington rules can be brought to a satisfactory termination and an international agreement be reached.
Her Majesty’s Government propose that the British Order in Council prescribing the revised regulations shall be issued as soon as the principal maritime nations have definitely signified their acceptance of these regulations. If they come into force, as proposed, on the 1st of March, 1895, it appears to Her Majesty’s Government that each foreign government will have ample time to prepare and promulgate identic rules to come into force on the same day. If, however, in order to secure international agreement, it should be found absolutely necessary to alter the date suggested, Her Majesty’s Government will be prepared to entertain a proposal to that effect.
I have, etc.,