Mr. Gresham to Mr. Tavera.

Sir: The Secretary of the Treasury has referred to this Department your note to the Commissioner of Navigation (not dated) in which your request to be informed with regard to the views of the Government of the United States relative to the proposition of the London International Statistical Institute for convening an international commission for the establishment of uniform rules for the admeasurement of seagoing vessels.

A similar inquiry was made of the Secretary of the Treasury by this Department in January last, and on the 30th of that month that official replied as follows:

“While the Government of the United States recognizes the utility of uniformity among commercial nations in the methods of admeasuring vessels and is willing to cooperate in any practical measure to establish such uniformity, at the present time it is disposed to believe that some more rapid progress toward the desired end can be effected through correspondence and the concentration of efforts in the lawmaking branches of the governments of the commercial nations interested than through the convocation of an international conference.

“It is confirmed in its belief by a review of the parliamentary history of the establishment of the regulations for admeasurement in vogue in the various countries subsequent to and based upon the adoption of the Moorsom system by Great Britain in 1854.

“It deems applicable in part to the proposition for an international tonnage conference the conclusions of the international maritime conference of 1889 concerning the proposed establishment of a permanent international maritime commission. Those conclusions, to which the delegates from Belgium, Chile, France, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, and the United States assented, were: ‘It seems to your committee that such a consulting body of experts would not serve the purpose for which it is intended to be created, viz, that of facilitating the introduction of reforms in maritime legislation, because the advice given by such a commission would not in any way enable the governments of the maritime nations to dispense with the necessity of considering the [Page 49]subjects laid before them, and laying the proposals made to them, if adopted, before the legislative bodies of the different states.

“‘The consequence of instituting a body like that in question, on the contrary, would, it appears, be this: That merely another investigation of any scheme proposed with a view to reforming international maritime laws would have to be gone through before the opinions of the governments could be taken, and thus the course of procedure as it is now—by correspondence between the different governments—would be made more complicated instead of being simplified.’”

The Secretary of the Treasury concludes by observing that, so far as his Department is aware, the British Government has taken no steps to carry out the recommendations of the London International Statistical Institute.

Accept, etc.,

W. Q. Gresham,