File No. 763.72112/1203
The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State
[Received 3.10 p. m.]
2198. Replying to my representations regarding the detention of American cargoes, Foreign Office advises me as follows:
That everything is being done to accelerate the settlement regarding the cotton cargoes which are to be purchased by His Majesty’s Government.
Sir E. Grey would, however, point out to his excellency that a representative of American shippers of cotton on seventeen vessels, the cargoes of which have been purchased, was informed on the 26th instant that His Majesty’s Government were ready and anxious to pay at once. He admitted however his complete inability at present to make any definite claim with regard to any one of the cargoes of these vessels.
The representative of shippers of cotton on another vessel was similarly informed, but he also acknowledged that he was not in a position to present any definite statement of account. Both these persons undertook to communicate immediately with their principals in the United States with a view to obtain all necessary particulars and thus hasten an early settlement.
The cargoes of the remaining six vessels are also being dealt with as rapidly as possible.
Dr. Page will no doubt readily recognize that the process of arriving at a settlement is retarded by the necessity of establishing the real ownership of each consignment, and of ascertaining whether it has passed from shipper to consignee, and who is the person entitled to receive the payment.
That this preliminary investigation is really necessary is proved by the fact that certain Swedish consignees are threatening to institute proceedings in London with a view to preventing the purchase by His Majesty’s Government from the American shippers of cotton cargoes, which they allege have been bought and actually paid for by themselves.