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the fore gn service, as made by this bill, is much more equitable than that made by the present civil-service retirement law in its application to people employed in the classified civil service, because this bill takes into consideration the amount of salary and gives a man retirement pay pro rated according the salary that he has received.
Mr. Fish. I think I can point out what the system is. I am introducing at the 'request of the enlisted personnel of the Army a 25-year retirement bill. They are paid from $21 up to the first sergeant, $157. The sergeants are the ones most interested in it and have been in communication with me most. The bill is one that will increase the pay of the different grades of private up to first sergeant, $30 each, and deduct 1 per cent from each of the grades. Of course, the sergeants' deduction of 1 per cent is vastly more than that of the private who only receives $21, but they all get the same amount, $30 more, so there is no complaint even among the sergeants. You will find that is the general practice in retirement. According to that principle an ambassador would not have much complaint.
Mr. COCKRAN. I think it would be a great blemish on this bill to leave an ambassador who has worked his way up from the lower grades to the highest without some provision for his retirement. The most excellent would have the greatest hardship.
Mr. FISH. I do not expect to be ambassador until 60, and then have five years before retiring.
Mr. CARR. It occurs to me you might adopt here a principle that is a slight modification of that employed by several foreign Governments in their systems of retirement of foreign-service officers. They compensate their officers by a double system of compensation-basic salary plus local allowances—similar to what is known in our legislation as post or representation allowances.
Mr. COCKRAN. I know what it is.
Mr. CARR. They base their rate of retirement pay upon the basic salary and not upon the local allowance. You could adopt in this bill, possibly, the principle of a contribution computed on the basic salary of foreign-service officers up to $9,000 and not require contributions based on so much of the salary as might exceed $9,000.
Mr. COCKRAN. Ministers get $10,000.
Mr. COCKRAN. I would like to have some suggestion from the department which has stated it. The department has paid attention to that question of working out an equitable system of determining it. Did you consider at all the case of ambassadors in working out this bill?
Mr. CARR. Not any further than I have already indicated.
Mr. COCKRAN. Mr. Rogers has brought an entirely new element in here. I think, practically, it would not amount to very much, but suppose only one or two ambassadors would come within the operation of this bill, nevertheless, I think it ought to be made to fit every case if we can. The retirement fund that an ambassador would get would be $4,800 under this bill?
Mr. CARR. Yes.
Mr. COCKRAN. Five per cent of $17.500. Therefore, the contribution that he would be making to this fund would be out of all proportion to the amount in the case of any other officers.
Mr. Fish. How many ambassadors have we at the present time?
Mr. CARR. Thirteen, I believe. Only two of them would be eligible to retirement under this bill.
Mr. COCKRAN. Anyone of them might be removed in a change of administration to-morrow.
Mr. CARR. Certainly.
Mr. COOPER. A great deal has been said about Mr. Fletcher. Where is he now?
Mr. CARR. Belgium.
Mr. CARR. He was Undersecretary of State for over a year. Prior to that time he was ambassador to Mexico. He was out of the service a short time between the time he was ambassador to Mexico and the time of his appointment as Undersecretary of State. He was ambassador to Chile and had been minister to Portugal, and before that was at various posts in the Diplomatic Service.
Mr. COOPER. When we severed diplomatic relations with Mexico, did Mr. Fletcher cease to be ambassador?
Mr. CARR. Not immediately, sir; no. He was in this country a long time either on leave of absence or at the State Department.
Mr. COOPER. Did he draw salary as an ambassador after we had severed diplomatic relations with Mexico?
Mr. CARR. My recollection is that he did.
The CHAIRMAN. To refresh your recollection, Mr. Carr, Mr. Fletcher was stationed in the State Department in direct charge of Mexican affairs. I know, as I was in close touch with the Mexican situation at the time, and I saw him a number of times in connection with Mexican matters.
Mr. Carr. He was brought back by the Secretary of State for consultation. That finally developed into his taking charge of Mexican affairs in the State Department. They were at a critical stage at that particular time. He could not function in Mexico City, and yet there were many things that had to be done, and he was held in the department for that purpose; I do not remember exactly the length of time. That was done under the last administration.
Mr. COOPER. Mexico at that time had no representative here?
Mr. COOPER. That is to say, strictly speaking, there were no diplomatic relations between the two countries?
Mr. CARR. Not in the sense of Government dealing with Government, but there were a great many things that had to be done in connection with Mexico.
Mr. COOPER. I have in mind that yesterday when I called attention to section 14 bringing back ministers, I only suggested bringing back an ambassador and baving him receive the emoluments of the office, as indicating that we had severed diplomatic relations, and, strictly speaking, he had no diplomatic functions to perform.
Mr. CARR. A situation arose during the last administration where the President decided that as a manifestation of his displeasure over something that the Government of Costa Rica had done he would withdraw his minister. He expected that to have the effect of causing the Government to modify the action that he objected to, when possibly he could return the minister to his post. He held the minister here under orders, hoping that the condition in the other Government would be modified so as to make it feasible to send the minister back. It was not modified and the minister stayed here, perhaps in the opinion of some people too long. After a reasonable length of time the department refused to continue to pay his compensation and told him he would have to go on leave without pay.
Mr. COOPER. How long?
Mr. CARR. In that case, I think, the minister was here some six or nine months. But I hope you see what was involved there. It was not any disposition to bring an officer back here on salary and squander Government money, but it was a gesture to create a certain effect on the other country and cause it to modify its course in connection with the protection of certain American interests in that country.
Mr. COOPER. I had also in mind the Kerensky government, which had here a minister or ambassador, so called, Mr. Bahkmeteff. The Kerensky government, as everybody knows, was a government on horseback, lasting but a few months. Nevertheless, he stayed here and had the title of ambassador, and got a great amount of money, representing a government which did not exist at all and country with which we had no diplomatic relations whatever. I did not want anything to creep into this bill which might bring the possibility of a repetition of a case of that kind.
Mr. CARR. I hope we will never reach the condition where any such thing as you suggest will be necessary for this Government.
Mr. COOPER. We had no diplomatic relations with Mexico whatever. The ambassador is recalled. He has no diplomatic functions to perform whatever, and yet he draws the salary of ambassador. It is an analogous condition to the Russian situation.
Mr. CARR. I may say this, that in respect to the particular ambassador of our own country, of whom you are speaking, he was industriously performing work relating to Mexico every moment of the time. He was doing as much for this Government as if he had been in Mexico City.
The CHAIRMAN. As a matter of justice to Mr. Fletcher, I desire to also say that during the entire time he was in the State Department he was devoting all of his energies to the Mexican situation and was extremely helpful, and according to my recollection now he remained there about nine months and then resigned.
Mr. CARR. That is true.
The CHAIRMAN. Because he did not agree with the “watchful-waiting" policy of Mr. Wilson.
Mr. CARR. I think it is a safe statement to make that the work that he did here while he was in consultation with the Secretary in connection with Mexican affairs was fully equal in importance to any work that he would have done had he been in the active occupation of his post in Mexico City.
Mr. ROGERS. Are we ready to proceed with the two remaining sections?
Mr. MOORES. Let me ask that Mr. Carr draft an amendment to cover that situation.
Mr. CARR. I shall be glad to do so.
Mr. MOORES. Draft an amendment to cover the case of Mr. Fletcher and other similar cases and submit to us. It is your suggestion that they submit to us at the next meeting of the committee a draft of an amendment.
Mr. COCKRAN. To cover section 14,
Mr. ROGERS. Is there anything in sections 18 or 19 that does not speak for itself, or have you anything that you want to add ?
Mr. CARR. I have nothing to say in regard to those sections. I think it is perfectly clear what they wean, and they do not seem to me to require any explanation. I would like to add this word in concluding my testimony: As one who has been for years primarily interested in building up a foreign service for this Government that will be thoroughly American in character, that will be thoroughly businesslike in operation, that will give at least a return of dollar for dollar on the amount invested and as much more in the way of dividends on the investment as possible, I sincerely believe that you have before you a bill that will enormously improve both our diplomatic and our consular services. It is the best constructive measure to that end, I believe, that I have yet seen laid before this committee. I feel that if you can pass it in substantially the form in which it is, with such improvements as may suggest themselves to you, that you will provide a sound and adequate basis upon which to build a strong foreign service, with diplomatic and consular branches, that will begin at once to do for this Government abroad much of that which you ardently desire, and which as opportunity therefor is afforded you can further extend and broaden with the least possible delay, so as to give us in the near future a foreign service the equal of which no other government possesses.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand you want to bring in some amendments covering the matters we have been discussing. Let me suggest this to you, that you devote a little attention to how ambassadors could be included in the operation of this bill without seriously affecting this present structure.
Mr. Carr. Do you mean in simply the retirement provision ?
Mr. CARR. Or do you mean in the provision of creating a situation which would encourage young men entering the service to feel that they may aspire to rise to that grade?
Mr. COCKRAN. The whole scope of this bill has that in view. The only suggestion we make now is with reference to the retirement plan, that the ambassadors—there are probably few but of very great excellence-should not be excluded from the beneficial operations of the bill. If that can be worked out, without seriously interferring with the structure of the measure, along the line of Mr. Rogers's suggestion.
Mr. Fish. Do you think it would be proper to add a provision here covering the acguisition of embassies in this bill?
Mr. CARR. I believe that that particular provision would hardly be germane to this measure. It is in a measure already before the House.
Mr. Fish. It is in a modified form. Why could you not get the committee up or get me up a bill covering that situation, creating a fund, so that that fund could be expended regardless of the present law that we have been carrying out, a fund of $5,000,000 to be administered by a commission, the Secretary of State, or what not, to acquire those properties, either building them or acquiring them?
Mr. CARR. I would be delighted to study that question and give you all the help I can.
Mr. FISH. I will introduce it and I am sure the committee will consider it.
Mr. ROGERS. The committee feels very grateful to Mr. Carr for his helpful testimony upon the conditions surrounding the foreign service and its needs. On Monday Mr. Skinner spoke briefly and it was deemed wise to ask him to suspend so that Mr. Carr could lay down a foundation, as it was felt that Mr. Skinner's testimony thereafter would be more valuable. If the chairman of the committee approve, may we go on to-morrow with Mr. Skinner testifying?
The CHAIRMAN. At 10 o'clock sharp, as usual.
(Thereupon the committee adjourned to meet again at 10 a. m. Thursday, December 14, 1922.)
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, Friday, December 15, 1922. The committee this day met, Hon John Jacob Rogers presiding.
Mr. ROGERS. Mr. Skinner, you were asked to suspend by the committee in the midst of your testimony on Monday so that Mr. Carr could lay the foundation for the bill in detail, and the committee have had the privilege of hearing Mr. Carr for three or four days. What we would like from you, if you please, is comment of a practical nature resulting from your long experience in the field, with an attempt at avoidance of mere cumulative material, STATEMENT OF ROBERT P. SKINNER, CONSUL GENERAL TO LON
Mr. SKINNER. Mr. Chairman, this bill is a business bill. Its outstanding purpose is to protect, encourage, and assist our commercial and other business relations abroad, which are so intimately intertwined with our political relations as to be practically inseparable. It attempts to provide a better business organization of our foreign service. It is in line with your departmental reorganization scheme here at home. It gives you an organization with one head instead of two organizations with two heads occupying the same field.
It gives the Executive power to cut out duplication and to coordinate various activities, and it lays the foundation for a trained personnel from whom the President can draw, if so disposed, those higher diplomatic officers who, under the Constitution, can be named by him as he deems best. I frankly say, as one of the men from the field. that we hope in time he will find it to his advantage and convenience to seek those higher officers from the trained service. However, the bill imposes no such equirement nor can any bill amend the well-established constitutional practice in this respect. You have been told that this measure sets up no princ ple not already recognized to some extent in our existing legislation. It does introduce one novel administrative feature not novel in the practice of other countries but in our own, and it is the vital feature of these proposals. That feature is the destruction of the wall now existing between the diplomatic and consular branches of the service, a perfectly useless wall, the only obvious effect of which is to tend to create a caste among officeholders, a wall which prevents your diplomatic secretaries from obtaining a working knowledge of business affairs, prevents your consuls from obtaining an insight into the processes of central governments, and deprives the Secretary of State from employing available talent where it may most usefully be applied.
The men now in office can not be changed in their characters or habits of thought by this or any other bill. You are legislating only incidentally for them. But 10 or 15 years from now, if this bill passes, you will have created a new, a more efficient class of public servant true to type, like the splendid fellows who come out of the Military and Naval Academies; men who, while possessing a proper appreciation of the amenities of life will also have an equal appreciation that ours is a business country, with whosé varied concerns they will be familiar and capable by their habits, instincts, and desires of giving such assistance as a well-conceived foreign service may render.
Now, you are not going to find men of this sort full grown, like Jove. Perhaps there was a time when our foreign representatives, being amiable and intelligent, were adequate to every probable situation. I can recall the sign on
my own door 26 years ago, “Office hours 10 to 12 and 2 to 4,” and not much going on at that. It is different now. I remember hearing Mr. Page in London, shortly after the outbreak of the war, exclaim, almost pathetically, that his predecessors had had a very good time. * Of course, they had a very good time,” said he, “but they had no work to do.” And there you have the key to the need of this bill. There is work to be done and somebody must do it or try to do it, and it is for you to decide whether it shall be well done or indifferently done, or poorly done.
Mr. Cockran said something a day or two ago about the old embassy on Victoria Street. I recall the old embassy very well, four rooms, mostly occupied by British clerks. It was next door to a shirt maker's shop. The place we now occupy as our embassy in Grosvenor Gardens is a different affair, a large substantial building, and occupied by scores of busy people, doing business in a businesslike way. Edward Everett was a great minister to Great Britain, a most charming man. Looking into my records in London for December 16, 1841, you will find an entry for that day showing that Mr. Everett returned from Paris and received from the consul general, Mr. Aspinwall, the archives and property of the legation; and of what did they consist? The property consisted of one French cabinet containing files, one iron box containing letter books, two bookcases containing books, one cupboard, one division cupboard, and one desk. Please note there was just one desk.
That was the property of the United States Government in London in 1841. A year later we had our consul general in London having some trouble with Rothschilds, who refused to give credit to the United States Government for 450 pounds, about $3,000. The country has changed since then. We do not have to go hat in hand from Rothschilds to Baring Bros., as he did, for $3,000. But in the meantime our Diplomatic Service has undergone little change in the method of making appointments or the structure of the service itself. Ministers and ambassadors these days are functionaries, and their success or failure is less a matter of externals than it is capacity to perceive opportunities and perform useful work.
Some one has suggested that we need the successful business man in these foreign positions, but the successful business man will not abandon his success, and the failures we do not want. The dreamers we do not want. The merely idle rich we do not want. The expatriates we do not want. What alternative is there? There is only one worth considering. Adopt the principles set out in this bill. Select your young mater al and form it to your purposes. How? My sending it to school. Where? In the consular establishment. Give these young men to us. Where can the future ambassador better learn the meaning of treaties than in our consulates, where their practical application is a matter of da ly experience? Where better can he keep his American spirit fresh than in our offices, where we see and touch from hour to hour the vastly complicated material and moral life of our own country? Where can he learn to com. prehend the processes of business so well as where the actual papers relating to business come rushing through the windows, demanding to be dealt with? Where can he learn how to protect the citizen in his rights so well as where the citizen comes to claim them? Where can he learn to know so much of life in all its aspects as in our consulates, where we note the births, read the burial service over the dead, officiate as witnesses at marriages, open wills, file claims, hire and discharge maritime laborers, apply our navigation laws, carry on the tabulation of our export statistics from hour to hour, deal with the immigrant who leaves for our shores, be occasionally shot at-as happened to our consul at Malta on Monday of this week-learn to hold our tongues and control our tempers in trying circumstances?
A remark was dropped by the acting chairman yesterday about our diplomatic secretaries, or some of them. He was dissatisfied in particular cases. It seems to me that the conditions upon which he touched are an important demonstration of the need of this bill. We have said to these young men : “ You can become secretaries, you can learn foreign languages, you can perform the work assigned to you. With good luck you can earn $4.000 a year, but don't expect more. You are not going to be advanced to the positions of honor and responsibility--they are reserved for gentlemen from outside who possess influence." The wonder is that so many young men of ability have been found willing to take up such unpromising situations in life.
Our consuls have slight immediate advantages held out to them in this bill. As has been pointed out by Mr. Carr, under its terms they may be shifted into diplomatic positions from time to time, and it will be an excellent thing