Press Release Issued by the White House, November 7, 1933 37

The following statement by the President was released simultaneously in London and in Washington:

“For some weeks representatives of the British Government have been conferring with representatives of this government on the subject of the British debt to this country growing out of the World War. The conversations were requested by the British Government in its notes of last June38 and December,39 a request to which I gladly acceded in view of the policy which I announced in November, 1932, that a debtor may at any time approach a creditor with representations concerning the debt and ask for readjustment of the debt or its terms of payment.

“The conversations, now concluded, have in no sense prejudiced the position which either government has taken in the past or may take in any subsequent discussion of the entire debt question. They have, however, given an opportunity for a full and frank discussion of the representations which the British Government has made.

“These discussions have made clear the great difficulty, if not impossibility, of reaching sound conclusions upon the amounts of international payments practicable over any considerable period of time in the face of the unprecedented state of world economic and financial conditions.

“It has, therefore, been concluded to adjourn the discussions until certain factors in the world situation—commercial and monetary—become more clarified. In the meantime, I have as Executive noted the representations of the British Government. I am also assured by that Government that it continues to acknowledge the debt without, of course, prejudicing its right again to present the matter of its readjustment, and that on December 15, 1933, it will give tangible expression [Page 846]of this acknowledgment by the payment of seven and one-half million dollars in United States currency.

“In view of these representations, of the payment, and of the impossibility, at this time, of passing finally and justly upon the request for a readjustment of the debt, I have no personal hesitation in saying that I shall not regard the British Government as in default.”

Coincident with the issuance of the President’s statement in Washington, the Eight Honorable Neville Chamberlain, Chancellor of the Exchequer, was to address the House of Commons in the following terms:

“The discussions in regard to war debts have been concluded.

“It has unfortunately not proved possible to reach an agreement for a final settlement. His Majesty’s Government recognize, however, the difficulties which exist at the present time by reason of the unsettled economic and financial situation, and they have accordingly informed the United States Government that they are prepared to make on December 15 next a further payment of 7½ million dollars in American currency in acknowledgment of the debt pending a final settlement. His Majesty’s Government have stated that they are ready to resume negotiations on the general question whenever, after consultation with the President, it may appear that this can usefully be done.

“President Roosevelt is making a statement in Washington today in regard to the discussions. After briefly referring to the origin and the result of the conversations the statement concludes as follows:”

(Note: The Chancellor of the Exchequer at this point was to read from the statement issued by the President, beginning: “It has, therefore, been concluded” and continuing to the end.)

  1. Reprinted from Department of State, Press Releases, November 11, 1933, p. 258.
  2. Dated June 13, ante, p.839.
  3. Dated December 1, 1932, Foreign Relations, 1932, vol. i, p. 758.