Page images

of the lease. This jurisdiction was further limited to offenses committed within the leased areas where the offender is apprehended therein.

It is believed that this undertaking fully meets the views set out in the British memorandum.

(2) The memorandum also raises the question regarding harbor and light dues to be paid by American vessels using the bases. It is contended that American public vessels should not have greater exemption than is now granted to similar ships of the Royal Navy.

As to this, it must be borne in mind (1) that British public vessels of the types corresponding to United States public vessels which it is proposed to charge harbor dues, probably use ports in most of these outlying possessions only on infrequent occasions, and (2) that from the point of view of the British Government, it is largely a matter of taking money out of one pocket and putting it in the other. Consequently, the payment of harbor and light dues would be a matter of little consequence to the British, whereas American public vessels would be using the bases constantly, not only in carrying supplies, but in entering and departing for purposes of maneuver, et cetera. To require these ships to pay dues on an equal footing with ships of the Royal Navy would mean that American public vessels might be paying large sums of money into the local treasury for the use of a leased base which under the agreement they would have a perfect right to use without charge. Moreover, it has been pointed out to the British that the United States will construct and maintain lights, buoys, and other aids to navigation, and that all these facilities will be available to British ships—public and private—without charge.

It is not clear from the British contentions whether some reasonable contribution by American public ships to the upkeep of local aids to navigation is contemplated or whether this is a matter of raising new revenue.

There will be no increased cost in the upkeep of existing navigation facilities due to the use of local waters by American public vessels. If new revenue is the point at issue, it is easy to understand how the expenses involved in the use of these bases would amount to considerable sums annually and to huge sums over a period of 99 years.

No exemption of vessels other than those of the United States Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Coast and Geodetic Survey is requested. As a matter of fact, there would be an increase of revenue of this type in each territory in which a base is located by reason of the fact that additional American vessels and perhaps foreign vessels will go to those territories with supplies and materials for use in the construction and operation of the bases. This additional revenue


will undoubtedly be considerable and is an additional argument against the taxation of these four categories of public vessels. Moreover, the amounts spent by the United States in supplying increased aids to navigation and harbor improvements will be considerable. These are points which seem to have been overlooked by the British Government.

Furthermore, the British Government seems to have overlooked the statement in the exchange of notes between the Secretary of State and Lord Lothian 87a wherein it is stated that:

"His Majesty's Government will make available to the United States for immediate establishment and use naval and air bases and facilities for entrance thereto and the operation and protection thereof" and that

“All the bases and facilities referred to ... 88 will be . . . free from all rent and charges other than such compensation to be mutually agreed on to be paid by the United States in order to compensate the owners of private property for loss by expropriation or damage arising out of the establishment of the bases and facilities in question.”

No one ever thought of charges on United States Government vessels for the privilege of entering and departing from these bases. The idea of payment of such charges is entirely negatived by the statement that the bases shall be "free from all rent and charges other than compensation to private property owners”. Obviously, if there is a requirement for payment every time a ship enters or departs from one of these bases, the use of the bases is not free from charges.

(3) The British memorandum also states that the United States negotiators have made no proposals to meet the British request in regard to the United States coastwise shipping laws and facilities for British ships in the leased areas.

The American representatives in London have told the British negotiators that the United States coastwise laws would not extend to these bases but that under existing law all materials for the use of the army and navy, except under certain conditions, must be carried in American vessels. These excepted conditions are, among other things, lack or non-availability of American vessels, excessive costs, et cetera, under which conditions provisions of the law may be waived by the President.

Concerning the use of the base facilities by British ships, the American representatives in London have stated that such facilities will be available to British commercial vessels on the same terms and conditions upon which they are available to United States commercial vessels.


September 2, 1940, Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. III, pp. 73 and 74.
Omissions indicated in the original memorandum.


(4) It is also stated in the memorandum that the broad argument that it is wished to urge, is one in favor of the instructions to the United States delegates being such as to enable them to treat the matters under discussion on a wide basis from the defense aspect and to take fully into account interests of the territories and their inhabitants.

Throughout the course of the negotiations in London the attitude and spirit of the Government of the United States toward the discussion of the terms of the leases and the agreements under which the bases will be operated have been entirely within the framework of the broad purposes of the Governments of the United States and Great Britain, as expressed in the basic exchange of notes. Every consideration has been given at all times to meet in as far as possible the desires of the local territories, but it must be said that many of the points which have caused delay in the discussions have referred to matters in which apparently it has been the desire of the local authorities to have provisions inserted which would circumscribe the rights considered by the United States Government as necessary and in accordance with the principles laid down in the exchange of notes of September 2, 1940.

The Naval Affairs Committees of the two Houses of Congress, and individual members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, have already raised the question as to whether the United States will be required to pay any kind of charges in connection with the use of these bases and have been told that the Government of the United States does not anticipate being subjected to any kind of charges. It would be unfortunate if the British Government, by a continuation of the discussion of such matters as customs, harbor, and light dues, should cause these Committees to gain an unfavorable impression at a time when the American Government is doing its utmost in an effort to be of assistance in the world situation.

WASHINGTON, March 1, 1941.

811.34544/703a : Telegram The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom


WASHINGTON, March 4, 1941—6 p. m. 712. For President's Base Lease Commission. Yesterday an officer of the British Embassy telephoned an officer of the Department that a telegram had been received in the Embassy which had crossed on the wires the Embassy's telegram of March 1 transmitting the substance of our reply to their memorandum of February 26 (the complete text of both memoranda was sent you in our 683 of March 18),

[ocr errors]

* Telegram No. 683 not printed.

requesting the Embassy to get in touch informally with us in regard to certain questions in connection with the base lease negotiations. We inquired what specific questions they had in mind and learned that they were questions of jurisdiction, customs, and light dues. We replied that we found it difficult to understand their desire to discuss these questions in Washington; that all of our views had been communicated to our delegation in London and that the members of our delegation were prepared to deal fully and comprehensively with all of these questions; that on the earnest insistence of the British Government the President had sent a delegation to London to handle these negotiations and that obviously it would be impossible to negotiate simultaneously in two places on the same subjects without considerable confusion. We therefore inquired whether it is the wish of the British Government that the negotiations be transferred to Washington; we stated that if such is their wish we would have to take up the matter with the President. The British replied at once that they were confident that it was not the wish of the British Government to transfer the negotiations to Washington. We therefore stated that any discussions which the British authorities in London wished to initiate with you on any of the subjects would find you ready to deal with them.

It seems obvious to us that the British feel that they would gain from the confusion resulting from trying to carry on negotiations in two places simultaneously. Likewise, they probably feel that Halifax might be able to persuade us to weaken in some of our positions. We hope that we have made it abundantly clear that you are our accredited representatives in these negotiations and that they cannot negotiate with us behind your backs, or otherwise undermine your position.


811.34544/614 : Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom


WASHINGTON, March 8, 1941–6 p. m. 777. For President's Base Lease Commission. Immediately upon receipt of your 706, February 24,90 in which you stated that in your opinion certain aspects of the negotiations were being unnecessarily delayed and that it would be an opportune time for us to indicate forcibly to the British that the agreement should be concluded without delay, we submitted to the President a draft telegram to the Prime Minister along these lines.

Last night we received a memorandum from the President reading in part as follows: "I held up this proposed dispatch to Churchill

[ocr errors][merged small]

because I wanted first to talk with Halifax. I explained to Halifax that it is of the utmost importance to us because of the Congressional situation that the matter of the bases be settled quickly. He is telegraphing his Government to that effect."

The President discussed with Halifax various topics of the draft agreement, including light and harbor dues, navigational facilities, the restricted use of the waters adjacent to the bases by British vessels (including fishing vessels), jurisdiction and the exemption from customs and other duties of articles shipped to the leased areas. You will be interested to know that the President fully and forcefully supported the position of [on] all of these subjects which you have taken in the negotiations.

As regards customs duties, after indicating full support for the position which you have taken, the President stated “There should be a solemn undertaking on our part, however, that the resale of any article thus brought to the reservation, and later taken across the line for use anywhere off the reservation, would be severely punished and put an end to.”

As regards the use of the waters by British ships, the President stated: “Because these eight bases are definitely military areas, British ships should be excluded from these areas except when authorized to enter them by the United States representative. This applies to local fishing boats, to whom revocable licenses might be given by the American representative, and actually would be given in normal times."

We hope that this will prove helpful to you in obtaining the British agreement to our proposals.

We know that you are doing everything within your power to bring these negotiations to a satisfactory termination as soon as possible.


811.34544/669 : Telegram The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary

of State

LONDON, March 8, 1941–10 p. m.

[Received 10:50 p. m.] 908. For the President and the Secretary of State. There has been a definite speeding up of the Base Lease negotiations. Apparently the negotiations had been complicated and delayed by overemphasis on Colonial objections without sufficient authoritative recognition by the British of our primary defense needs. I am certain that unnecessary prolongation of negotiations would be no more helpful here than at home. I have been guided by the position and attitude of our Gov

« PreviousContinue »