File No. 811.2222/4195

The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page) to the Secretary of State


8720. Your 6565, February 14. Following note dated February 18 received from Foreign Office:

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s note of the 15th instant regarding the proposed military service convention [Page 682] between the United States of America and Great Britain, and I note with pleasure that Your Excellency’s Government have seen their way to accept the amendments proposed in my note of the 11th instant.

Accordingly authorized His Majesty’s High Commissioner at Washington by telegraph on the 16th instant to sign the convention on the 18th instant as desired by Your Excellency’s Government.

I would, however, observe that I have instructed Lord Reading to point out to Mr. Lansing that it was always my intention that the convention should be signed in London, and for that reason the stipulation was included in article 8 that ratifications should be exchanged at Washington. This provision was inserted in order to save time, my purpose being to forward to Lord Reading the ratification signed by the King immediately after signature had taken place here so that as soon as the Senate had decided that the convention should be ratified, exchange could take place at Washington on a day to be fixed when Parliament was in session at Westminster. Your Excellency will appreciate that His Majesty’s Government are precluded by the terms of the “Military Service Conventions with Allied States” Act from applying the Military Service Acts to United States citizens in Great Britain until 60 days after the convention is laid before Parliament, that is, the convention must lie on the tables of the two Houses for 30 days before the order in council applying the Military Service Acts can be made, and the Military Service Acts only become operative 30 days after the signature of the order in council.

It is, however, stipulated in the convention that the convention shall come into operation on the date upon which ratifications are exchanged, and for this reason therefore it is essential that the exchange of ratifications shall take place on the same date on which the convention is laid before the British Parliament.

I would observe that if the convention is both signed and ratified at Washington, delay may arise, since it will be necessary for Lord Reading to send to me the signed original for verification before I can present it to the King for His Majesty’s ratification, and when this has been done the ratification must then be sent to Washington for exchange. It will also be easier to arrange for exchange of ratifications here to coincide with the laying of the convention before Parliament.

I have therefore requested Lord Reading to suggest that it might be well that ratifications should be exchanged in London and the consequential amendment made in article 8 of the convention.

With regard to article 3 of the convention, I have the honour to state that His Majesty’s Government concur in the alteration of the words “attained military age” to “become liable to military service,” and that with regard to article 4 His Majesty’s Government agree to it being understood that the question of how far Irishmen shall be subjected to military service in the United States will be left to the discretion of the United States Government.

I would, however, take this opportunity to point out with reference to article 4, that with regard to part (b) of the definition of Canadians as stated in your note the word “not” would appear to have been omitted between the words “were” and “born.”

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I would add that I have also authorized Lord Reading to exchange notes with regard to article 1 in the manner proposed on page 4 of Your Excellency’s note of the 31st ultimo.

See Department’s telegram 6390, January 30, 4 p.m.1

As regards the signature of the Canadian convention I have the honour to observe that I am not aware whether the Canadian Government would raise any objection to the amendments in articles 2 and 3 desired by the United States Government (Mr. Lansing’s reference to article 4 in this connection would appear to have been made through oversight, since article 4 in the British convention does no more than except Canadians from the British convention). The competent department of His Majesty’s Government have, however, explained the position to the Government of the Dominion and have expressed the earnest hope that they will raise no objection to the proposed amendments, and I have accordingly authorized Lord Reading to sign the convention as amended, unless he receives notice to the contrary from the Government of Canada. The place of exchange of ratifications of the Canadian convention will necessarily follow on the decision taken by the United States Government as to the ratification of the British convention.

  1. Ante, p. 665.