The Vice Consul at Jerusalem (Gilman) to the Secretary of State

No. 1872

Sir: I have the honor to refer to this office’s despatch No. 1814 of July 24, 1928, File No. 815.6, relative to the construction of the harbor works at Haifa, in which the Department was informed that the construction of Haifa harbor was not to be undertaken by the Palestine Government as originally intended, but was to be done by contract and that as soon as plans and specifications were available they would be forwarded to the Department for the information of American firms interested in submitting tenders.

Under date of July 23, 1928, the Chief Secretary of the Government of Palestine was requested to advise this Consulate when invitations [Page 63] to firms interested in submitting tenders would be ready to be sent, and to furnish the Consulate with copies of the plans and specifications of the work to be done as soon as they were available. The Consulate’s letter was acknowledged by the Secretariat on July 28, 1928, in which acknowledgement the then Acting Chief Secretary stated simply that, “A further reply will be sent to you in due course”.

No further communication has as yet been received, however, from the Secretariat, and on the morning of October 19th I called personally upon Mr. F. Pudsey, Director of the Department’ of Public Works of the Government of Palestine, in regard to this matter. Mr. Pudsey informed me that Mr. Palmer of Rendel, Palmer, and Tritton, Westminister, London, the consulting engineers engaged by the Crown Agents, who visited Palestine in March of this year to make a preliminary survey of the Haifa work, submitted plans and specifications to the Crown Agents which were approved by the Colonial Office on July 26, 1928.

The Crown Agents at once notified eleven specially selected English firms, providing them with the approved specifications. These firms forthwith sent representatives to Palestine to look over the field and prepare estimates for the work.

The closing date fixed for the final submission of tenders to the Crown Agents is November 4, 1928, and, as the Department was informed in this office’s telegram of October 19, 1928,52 three American firms, which to the Consulate’s knowledge have expressed an interest in bidding for the work, will have no opportunity to do so unless the closing date can be postponed and bidding opened to them. The firms in question are the Frederick Snare Corporation of 114 Liberty Street; Ulen and Company, 120 Broadway; and Fox Brothers and Company, Incorporated, 32 Rector Street; all of New York City.

As little publicity as possible has been given to this project, at least in Palestine, and it would appear that the Palestine Government has deliberately endeavored to conceal the intention of the British Government to invite only English firms to participate in the bidding for the work until it was too late for other Governments to make any representations.

I told Mr. Pudsey during our interview that this looked very much like a closed proposition, and he smilingly agreed that it was. He also told me that some time ago the Italian Consul General in Jerusalem had inquired of the Secretariat regarding the Haifa harbor works upon behalf of an Italian firm which was interested in bidding for the contract, and that he had been put off by Colonel Symes, Chief Secretary at that time, with an evasive reply something [Page 64] to the effect of, to quote Mr. Pudsey’s own words, “Oh, don’t bother me now about this matter. We will let you know all about it when the time comes”.

I have [etc.]

J. Thayer Gilman
  1. Not printed.