HC Deb 23 March 1914 vol 60 cc65-6W

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has been informed that, by a finding of the United States Board of Appraisers, all goods imported into the United States which are carried by vessels flying the United States flag are entitled to a rebate of 5 per cent. on the schedule of duty charges; whether this applies to Section 1, paragraph (7), of the Foreign Trade Agreement of the Underwood Simmons Bill, the tariff law of 1913; and whether he has considered the effect of this upon English shippers from Nottingham and elsewhere, and upon English shipping companies that dispatch English goods to United States ports?


The decision of the United States Board of General Appraisers had reference to the interpretation to be placed on Section IV., paragraph (j), Subsection (7) of the Tariff Act of 1913, which reads as follows:—That a discount of 5 per centum on all duties imposed by this Act shall be allowed on such goods, wares, and merchandise as shall be imported in vessels admitted to registration under the laws of the United States; provided, that nothing in this Sub-section shall be so construed as to abrogate or in any manner impair or affect the provisions of any treaty concluded between the United States and any foreign nation.

The Board of Appraisers held that under this Sub-section goods imported in vessels admitted to United States registry are entitled to the discount of 5 per cent., and that the proviso does not have the effect of extending similar treatment to goods imported in the vessels of any other country. Prior to the decision the collectors of Customs were acting under instructions issued by the United States Treasury Department based upon an opinion by the Attorney-General to the effect that the discount could not be given to American vessels only without impairing the stipulations of existing treaties, and that consequently the Sub-section as a whole was inoperative. The decision of the Appraisers has been appealed against, and I am informed that, pending the result of the appeal, the rebate is not being granted. I understand from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that instructions have already been sent to His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington to make representations against this decision which, in the opinion of His Majesty' Government, is in conflict with the Treaty obligations of the United States towards this country.