The Minister in Egypt (Gunther) to the Secretary of State

No. 83

Sir: Adverting to my despatch No. 69 of November 3rd, 1928, enclosing a copy and translation of the Circular Note received from the Foreign Office of October 28th, 1928, reopening the question of capitulations, and to my telegram No. 44, November 3rd, 5:00 P.M., 1928, in which I reported that I would seize an early occasion upon Lord Lloyd’s return to ask him to acquaint me with the views of the British Government in regard to this matter, I have the honor now to report that I have received a communication from The Residency, referring textually to the numbered proposals in the Egyptian Foreign Office Note, from which I have the honor to quote as follows:

“Taking these proposals in their order, His Majesty’s Government are in agreement with 1 and 2. As regards the extension of criminal jurisdiction, Sarwat Pasha assured us last year that warrants issued by the Procureur-Général would be executed by foreign members of the Egyptian police force. His Majesty’s Government reserve their attitude as regards proposals 3 and 6. They are prepared to support 4: but should the proposal be rejected in favour of the creation of a five-Judge Chamber, His Majesty’s Government would claim one of the three resulting foreign judgeships. As regards 5, His Majesty’s Government have no objection to the appointment by the Egyptian Government of the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Courts: but they dissent from the proposal that either the President or the Vice-President of a Court must be an Egyptian. Finally His Majesty’s Government reserve their attitude towards the proposal providing that the Mixed Court of Appeal may be either in Alexandria or Cairo.”

In my most recent conversation on this subject with the British High Commissioner he stated that insofar as the proposal to hold a conference was concerned his Government felt that though both this method of approach and that of direct negotiation between Governments had its drawbacks, the conference was perhaps the lesser of two evils. As far as the general question was concerned he observed that it would probably be better to attempt to cure the evils of the capitulatory system than to ignore them or to oppose the steps which the Egyptian [Page 770] Government desire to take. It would seem, in his opinion, and I must say that in this I concur, that if the capitulatory system is still to have a long life it would be well to eradicate if possible some of the present causes for complaint.

It is obvious from the conversations which I have had with various of my Colleagues that a block has been formed by the Ministers of France, Italy, Greece and Roumania. No answer has yet been made by any of these Ministers to the Circular Note from the Egyptian Foreign Office of October 28th, 1928, as they are still in the process of conferring with one another and, above all, are awaiting the final decisions of the French Foreign Office. That their attitude and tactics will be obstructive is already clear. I shall, of course, continue to fallow developments very closely and as soon as any definite communications have been made by any of the Missions shall endeavor to ascertain the purport thereof and report to you.

I have [etc.]

Franklin Mott Gunther