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MR. CANNON also reported from the Executive Committee the nomination of HERBERT BARBER as a Member of the Committee on the Harbor and Shipping to serve until May, 1913 in place of EMIL L. Boas deceased, and the nomination of ALFRED ROMER as a member of the Committee on Arbitration to serve until May, 1915 in place of PERRY P. WILLIAMS deceased, and moved that these candidates be elected. .
ETHAN ALLEN Dory and CHARLES T. GWYNNE having been appointed tellers, two ballots were taken resulting in the election of the candidates for membership and of the candidates to fill the two vacancies in committees.
WELDING Ring, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Commerce and the Revenue Laws, presented the following report and moved its adoption :
The law establishing the Board of General Appraisers of the United States, was passed June 10, 1890, and has been in continuous operation since that time.
The important sections of this law are as follows:
SECTION 12 provides that the President, by and with the consent of the Senate, shall appoint nine general appraisers of merchandise, each of whom shall receive a salary of $7,000 a year. Not more than five of them shall be appointed from the same political party and they shall not be engaged in any other business or employment. They may be removed from office at any time by the President for inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance. They shall be employed at such ports as the Secretary of the Treasury may prescribe and under the general direction of the Secretary of the Treasury. Three of the General Appraisers shall be on duty as a Board of General Appraisers at the Port of New York.
SECTION 13 prescribes that if the Collector of the Port, or an importer, or agent, or consignee of merchandise shall be dissatisfied with the appraisement of merchandise, there shall be a re-appraisement by one of the General Appraisers. An appeal may be taken from the re-appraisement by the General Appraisers to the Board of three General Appraisers on duty at the Port of New York, or to a Board of three General Appraisers, who may be designated by the Secretary of the Treasury. The decision of the Board of General Appraisers shall be final and conclusive as to the dutiable value of the merchandise in question against all parties interested.
SECTION 15 prescribes that if either the importer or the Collector shall be dissatisfied with the decision of the Board of General Appraisers as to the construction of the law and the facts respecting the classification of the merchandise and the rate of duty, they may within thirty days after the decision apply to the Circuit Court of the United States for a review of the questions of law and fact involved in such decision. In such a review all of the evidence taken by and before the Appraisers shall be competent evidence before the Circuit Court. A further appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States is provided for, under certain conditions.
The tariff act of 1909 amended the law of 1890 so as to provide for appeals to the United States Court of Customs. Several other changes were made mostly of a minor character but the system established has, in every essential particular, remained ever since.
Since this law became operative, it has worked to the general satisfaction of the merchants of the United States, and without injury to the Government. Under the terms of the law, it is practically an independent body, the appointments being made by the President, by and with the consent of the Senate. When differences have arisen between merchants and the Treasury Department, an appeal could always be made to this independent Board of Appraisers, and this procedure has resulted in the satisfactory settlement of a large number of cases.
It is now common report in the public press that the Treasury Department desires to bring the Board of General Appraisers, directly under its control. The effect of such a change would be to eliminate the independent feature of the Board, and make it subservient to the views and instructions of the Treasury Department, leaving the merchants entirely under control of the Treasury Department officials, without any opportunity for recourse to an independent and impartial body. Your committee, therefore, believes that any change which would tend to lessen the independence of the General Appraiser Board by placing it under control of any Department of the Government would be most unwise. It, therefore, offers the following preamble and resolution :
Whereas, The Board of General Appraisers of the United States to which, under the Law of 1890, appeal can be taken either by the government or the importer in disputes over the appraisement of merchandise, and from which an independent judicial opinion may be secured, affords a means by which some approximation to fair and equitable adjustment of values may be obtained; therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York urgently protests against placing the Board of General Appraisers under the control of the Treasury Department, or any other Department of the Government, or in so changing the present law as to lessen the independent judicial position, rights and duties of the General Board of Appraisers ; and be it further
Resolved, That copies of these resolutions, be sent to the President, to the Members of the Senate, and House of Representatives, and to the Secretary of the Treasury.
Revenue Laws. Silas D. WEBB,
NEW YORK, October 8, 1912.
The report and accompanying preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted.
TERMINAL FACILITIES. EUGENIUS H. OUTERBRIDGE, Chairman of the Committee on the Harbor and Shipping presented the following preamble and resolution and they were unanimously adopted :
Whereas, The Chamber of Commerce at its meeting in June last adopted the report of the Committee on the Harbor and Shipping in relation to terminal improvements on the water front on the west side of Manhattan ; and
Whereas, The Committee on the Harbor and Shipping has for some time past been and still is engaged in a thorough study of conditions on the Brooklyn water front south of the Brooklyn Bridge preparatory to making a report to the Chamber in relation thereto ; and
Whereas, The Commissioner of Docks has given notice of a series of public hearings to be held in relation to the plans proposed by the Department of Docks for terminal and water front improvements in both these sections ; now, therefore be it
Resolved, That the members of the Committee on the Harbor and Shipping be, and hereby are, authorized to appear at such hearings as representing the Chamber of Commerce.
Respectfully submitted, (Signed) E. H. OUTERBRIDGE, R. A. C. Smith,
Committee on the
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES.
WILLIAM LUMMis on behalf of the delegates to the Conference at Washington to consider the advisability of forming a National Chamber of Commerce, presented the following report and moved its adoption :
To the Chamber of Commerce :
The delegates appointed by the Chamber to attend the conference held in Washington April 22 and 23, 1912, to consider the advisabil. ity of forming a National Chamber of Commerce, respectfully report :
The conference was held on the initiative of the national government, and its opening session was attended by President Taft and Secretary NAGEL of the Department of Commerce and Labor.
It was numerously attended. About 700 delegates were present, 76 being from the State of New York, of whom 43 represented commercial organizations in this city. Nearly every state and most of the large cities of the country were represented. Delegates were also in attendance from Alaska, Hawaii, the Philippines and Porto Rico, and from the American Chambers of Commerce in Paris, Brussels and Constantinople.
Large as this attendance was, and representing as the conference did many of the leading commercial, manufacturing and industrial organizations of the principal cities, it was nevertheless roughly estimated that less than one-twelfth of the entire number of such organizations in the country were represented.
A large part of the delegates, like our own, had no authority to bind the organizations they represented, and the opinion was broadly and strongly held that any plan adopted must leave freedom of action and thought to constituent organizations.
The addresses of President TAFT and Secretary NAGEL gave expression to the intentions of the government in calling the conference, but they withdrew after speaking and the subsequent deliberations were carried on by the delegates alone.
President TAFT said: “I have been so much impressed with the need for constant and intelligent co-operation with the great industrial forces of our country that I concluded to put the question to an immediate test. The Government cannot favor separate interests, but it should promote commerce and industry as a whole. This is the meaning of the recommendation of my message."
Secretary NAGEL said: “I trust that after you are through you will have laid a basis for a National Chamber of Commerce to represent the whole country actively and intelligently.”
The Conference was presided over with ability by HARRY A. WHEELER of Chicago, who has been elected President of the national - organization, which the conference decided to form under the name of · The Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America.
Much enthusiasm was displayed in establishing this national chamber, and after the conference, Secretary NAGEL declared that its organization was the most important step affecting business and commerce in this country that had been made in years.
By-laws have been adopted ; and officers have been elected having in view that every section of the country may, ultimately, be adequately represented. LUDWIG NISSEN, who although not representing the New York Chamber, is a member of our Chamber, is one of the twenty-five directors.
A central office for the United States Chamber has been secured in the City of Washington.
The by-laws, a copy of which is appended to this report, state that the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America is formed for the purpose of encouraging trade, and of promoting co-operation between Chambers of Commerce, Boards of Trade and other commercial and manufacturing organizations. The membership is of two classes, first ;-local, commercial or business organizations, whose chief purpose is the general development of the commercial and industrial interests of a single state, city or locality ; and second, -state, interstate or national organizations, whose membership is confined to one trade or group of trades ; and such other bodies of similar purpose as the Directors approve. It is provided that all questions considered must be of a national character, and the by-laws make elaborate rules to govern the presentation and consideration of such questions, both at the annual meetings and between the annual meetings. Questions to be considered may be presented by constituent members or by the Council or the Board of Directors. An affirmative vote of two-thirds is necessary to carry any proposition or resolution which may appear upon the official program for the annual meeting, and the list of questions to come before the annual meeting shall be mailed to members thirty days in advance. Each constituent member is given a stated time for acting upon every proposition. An association belonging to the United States Chamber and having twenty-five members is entitled to one delegate and one vote, and one vote for each one hundred additional members; but no association shall be entitled to more than ten delegates and ten votes. The By-laws make the important provision that on a question submitted to referendum no association found to have voted with the minority shall be deemed to impair its standing in the United States Chamber by adhering to its position or by continuing its efforts in support thereof.
A large number of Chambers of Commerce, Boards of Trade and national and state organizations devoted to particular industrial or business purposes have joined the United States Chamber; and many of these are important organizations.
That the United States Chamber will perform a useful function as a sort of clearing house for the exchange of information and views between commercial organizations, and between the government and the commercial organizations, is the belief of those who have been active in its formation. That it can be equally efficient in securing