HC Deb 15 August 1889 vol 339 c1326

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been directed to the leading article in the New York Evening Post, of 18th July, on the subject of United States consular charges on shipments from this country to the United States of America, in which it is stated:— No Consular officer makes any mention of the charge of 2s. 6d. for declaration fee in the reports of fees received. … It is the gossip that the British notary, as a condition of his selection to be the notary at the American Consulate, divides these large aggregate fees with the Consul, and they go to swell the great perquisites of that officer, of which so much has been heard of late; whether he is aware that on shipments from Germany to the United States no declaration fee is charged; whether he is aware that the total amount levied on shipments from this country exceeds £2,500 a year; whether it is a fact that last year the American Consuls ceased charging the fee of 2s. 6d., but that shortly after the appointment of fresh Consuls a few months back the charge was re imposed; and what steps he proposes to take to relieve British shippers of these unfair charges?


I am indebted to the hon. Member for sending me the article referred to. According to the information in our possession and the statements of the American Government, no declaration fee is charged in Germany when it is practically impossible to procure the attendance of a functionary qualified to administer oaths. We do not know the total amount levied on shipments in this country; nor are we aware that last year the American Consuls ceased to charge the fee; this, according to what I have before stated, would mean that they had ceased to insist upon the sworn declaration. It does not appear that any change in the existing state of things can be effected without a modification of American Law.