441.11 W 892/37: Telegram

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


73. British Embassy, on behalf of British citizens and British Government, is pressing Department for adjustment of various claims against the United States. In one instance of a private bill now pending in the House, the Department has elicited the information that there would be difficulty in having the House pass the bill since Representatives would not understand why payment should be made by the United States for claims in which the British Government [Page 228] is interested, while, as they believe, no steps are being taken by that Government to settle the claims in which the United States is interested.

The Department’s records disclose that only one of the various claims against the United States concerning which there has recently been correspondence between the Department and the British Embassy, can be settled without special legislation. This situation is presented to the British Embassy in a note dated today and the Embassy is informed in part as follows:16

“These cases have been considered by the appropriate Departments of the United States Government, but it appears that even if those Departments were prepared to admit the meritoriousness of the claims in question, no relief, except in one case, can be accorded to the claimant without the passage of special legislation by the Congress. As indicated above, bills providing for the relief of several of these claimants are now pending in the Congress. However, in view of the sentiment which apparently exists in certain quarters in that body, the Department is of the opinion that no good purpose would be served by urging at this time either the passage of the pending bills or the enactment of additional legislation for the benefit of the above-mentioned claimants, or of others similarly situated.

“I am not unmindful of the friendly response which on April 29, 1926, the British Government made orally through Mr. Chilton to my Aide Memoire of April 7, 1926, regarding the general claims situation. The informal discussions which have subsequently taken place between Mr. Broderick and Mr. Phenix seem to have been productive of a better understanding of some of the questions involved, and these discussions, I understand, are continuing as rapidly as the necessary examination of the cases permits, and should be concluded next month. It is, therefore, my intention to send Mr. Phenix to London in June with data regarding those claims concerning which further information is desired, both with respect to the final disposition by the British Government of the subject matter thereof, and with respect to the further consideration which that Government may be prepared to accord to those classes of claims regarded as meritorious by the Government of the United States. It is hoped that such progress can be made during the informal and discreet consultations which Mr. Phenix will have with the appropriate authorities at London that it will be possible for the Department to present to the Congress during its next session information regarding the general claims situation between the two Governments which will cause that body to look with favor upon any proposal for the enactment of legislation for the benefit of British claimants which may be approved by the Department of State.”

The British Embassy is also being informed that in the case of the claim which does not require congressional action steps are being taken to effect its prompt payment.

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You are instructed to inform Chamberlain in the foregoing sense and ascertain whether in July Phenix will find British officials familiar with the situation available for consultation. Phenix will have brief summaries of the cases which require further information and in consultation with you will classify those which appear meritorious in order to ascertain the views of the British Government regarding them.

It might be added that much of the correspondence can be disregarded as not setting up a valid claim in all the circumstances, according to indications after a preliminary examination of the claim files. Although I do not therefore anticipate any considerable number of disputed cases, nevertheless until further data are available I can have no definite views on this point.

Referring to confidential instruction of May 7, 1926,17 Navy has informed Department that they will not send representative to London this summer because their cases are not completely prepared.

  1. Extract from note not paraphrased.
  2. Not printed.