76 Lord Caldecote, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Circular cablegram D426 LONDON, 17 August [1940]


The following arrangements are proposed for bringing the Ship Warrant Scheme gradually into operation.

A. All vessels flying the flag of, or on charter to charterers in any part of the British Commonwealth of Nations except Eire, all Norwegian, Polish, Dutch, Belgian and U.S.A. vessels and all other vessels referred to in paragraph 12 of my telegram under reference [1] will be treated as if in possession of ship warrants and these vessels and any others in possession of ship warrants or temporary warrants will be given normal access to all British controlled commercial facilities.

B. [2] Japanese ships not producing ship warrants will when applying for British controlled commercial facilities (i.e., coal or oil bunkers, repairs, dry dock accommodation, ship stores and water) be subjected to routine delay of 24 hours beyond the time when they would otherwise have been able to sail. In theory this delay will be to enable enquiry to be made, but for the present it will be unnecessary to refer individual cases by telegram to the Ministry of Shipping, the object being simply the assertion of a different status between ships qualifying for warrants and those not so qualified. Japanese masters should not be given to understand that there is any discrimination against them. The delay should be attributed to administrative reasons.

C. No facilities will be given to any vessels not in the above two categories without reference by telegram to the Ministry of Shipping, stating the name of the vessel, the owner of time charterer, the voyage and nature of cargo and nature of facilities sought. On receipt of these particulars the Ministry of Shipping will in each case decide, after appropriate consultation where necessary, whether it is desirable that facilities should be given or withheld. The general intention is not to withhold facilities unless there is specific reason to discriminate against a particular owner or charterer, but it is intended to involve owners in such amounts of delay as may be necessary to persuade them of the advantages of possessing a ship warrant.

It is proposed to bring these arrangements into force on the 23rd August and His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom trust that His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia will be ready to cooperate in these measures. Very early reply by telegraph would be appreciated. [3]

1 Cablegram D379 of 29 July in PRO: DO 35/1062. The 'other vessels' referred to were Swedish, Hungarian, Yugoslavian, Greek and Egyptian.

2 This paragraph was annotated 'mutilated group'.

3 The Commonwealth Govt replied on 22 August (see cablegram 443 on file AA:CP290/6, 36) that it agreed to co-operate in the measures proposed, but expressed concern that in the face of strenuous opposition from Japan the ship warrant procedure could not be abandoned without loss of prestige and that abandonment would be likely to encourage Japanese hostility in other directions. It also suggested that Japanese vessels calling at several Australian ports should be subjected to the procedure only once and that small Japanese pearling vessels calling at North Australian ports for provisions and repairs should be exempt.

[AA:A816, 19/307/77]