Imatges de pÓgina
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payment of a duty on the appraised value of 5 per cent., to be carried to the marine hospital fund.

It is proposed to substitute for the present arbitrary and inexact mode of ascertaining the tonnage of vessels a method that shall ascertain the precise carrying capacity of a vessel, as near as may be, and instead of prescribing any fixed mode by law, in view of the frequent change of model and improvements in ship building, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to prescribe, from time to time, uniform rules for the ascertainment of tonnage for vessels of different build, shapes, and dimensions.

Ample provision is made for the exchange of registers from one branch of commerce to another without the payment of any fee or charge therefor.

The change effected in our coastwise and interior commerce by the use of steam has rendered inapplicable many of the provisions of the existing coasting law enacted in 1793, and among these are the requirements in regard to manifests. By the proposed law the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to prescribe ihe form of the manifest to be used by steam and other vessels engaged in the coasting trade, and so to alter the same from time to time as to make them conform to the convenience of trade and prevention of smuggling. And, to interfere as little as possible with the course and arrangements of steam and other coasting vessels, collectors are authorized to station a deputy at the place of their departure, to receive there the oath of the master to his manifest, without requiring his presence at the custom-house.

As the law now stands, on the sale of a part interest in a ship owned by several persons, new papers must be issued, and all the owners must give new bonds. It is proposed in such cases to require only new bonds to be given by the new parties in interest.

In order to prevent American vessels from being engaged in the slave trade, it is proposed to probibit, under heavy penalties, any American vessels engaging in trade on the western coast of Africa, or between any country and that coast, without a special license therefor in addition to her register for the foreign trade. This is designed not as superseding, but as auxiliary to other laws in force or which may be adopted for the prevention of the slave trade.

The foregoing are the principal changes introduced into this chapter in regard to the issue of marine papers and regulating the coasting trade.

Chapter 4. “For the government and regulation of seamen in the merchant service of the United States."

This chapter embraces all the essential provisions of the existing law regulating seamen in the merchant service, with no other change (besides a few trifling verbal amendments) than the bringing together, in immediate juxtaposition, the provisions now scattered through various laws on the same subject matter, and presenting them in clear, simple, and intelligible arrangement.

It prescribes the shipping contract to be entered into by the seamen and master; the list of crew; the bond for the return of the seamen or their proper discharge abroad; the payment of wages, and recovery if withheld; the furnishing of proper medicines and provisions; the dis

charge of and provision for seamen in foreign ports; surveys of the vessel on the allegation of unseaworthiness, and the mode of enforcing the shipping contract by the master as well as the mariner.

The existing laws have been found, in general, to work well, and their essential provisions have been retained.

Chapter 5. - To regulate the duties of officers of the customs and masters of vessels on entry of vessels from foreign ports.”

This chapter is composed, with few additions and modifications, of provisions taken from the general collection law of 1799 and its amendatory acts and the laws of 1821 and 1823, regulating importations from territories adjacent to the United States. It prescribes the duties of collectors, naval officers, surveyors, and inspectors; the form of and examination of manifest; the report and entry of the vessel; the transportation of imported goods destined to be landed in different districts, or part to be landed in the United States, and the residue exported; importations and entry of goods from foreign adjacent territories; transportation over portages; treatment of vessels putting into port in distress, with appropriate forfeitures and fines and penalties for violations of these respective provisions.

The principal addition to the existing laws in this chapter, and an important one, is that which authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to require the payment of duties directly by the importer, or due ascertainment by the collecting officers, to the Assistant Treasurer of the United States, under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, thus making the collector's office a registry of the duties, and the assistant treasurer the receiver of the same; and at ports where no such depositary exists, to transfer by drafts on the collector the public money in his hands to any assistant treasurer and pay the expense thereof; to direct an outgoing collector to pay over moneys to his successor, and one collector to pay over money to another—the collector recovering the same and his sureties to be liable therefor as if for money collected. This provision, it is believed, would afford great additional security against the misuse or embezzlement of the public revenue, and furnish desirable facilities for the transfer of the public money from the various points of collection 10 the treasury of the United States.

The only other important addition is that authorizing, in case of vessels from foreign ports and destined for the United States stranded upon the coasts, the cargo to be landed, stored or forwarded in lighters or other vessels, under the charge of the officers of the customs and with proper manifests, to the port of destination, to be entered as if imported in the vessel in which it was originally shipped. This is a usetul addition to the present law and applicable to cases of not unfrequent occurrence.

Chapter 6. “Regulating the entry of goods, unlading of cargoes, ascertainment of quantities and damage, entry of baggage and sea stores."

The provisions of this chapter are mainly provisions of the general collection act of 1799 and the supplemental collection act of 1823, arranged according to the subject matter, and, nearly as practicable, according to the order of proceedings on the entry of imports at the custom house. It regulates the production of invoices, their verification and authentication; the value of foreign currencies at the custom

houses; the oath to be taken by the owner and consignee of imports; the estimation and payment of duties; unlading of merchandise ; the duties of the weigher, measurer and gauger, and inspector, and the form of their returns and the examination and comparison thereof with the manifests ; entry of sea stores and baggage and articles of American origin exported and returned to the United States; the times within which vessels must discharge; the disposition of unclaimed goods and ascertainment and allowance for damage occurring on the voyage of importation. A new provision is made in this chapter, in case the importer does not produce an invoice, or produces an invoice not properly verified and authenticated. By the present law, the goods may be admitted to entry on appraisement, and a bond taken for the production of the invoice. It is proposed to require, instead of a bond, a deposit of five per cent. on the estimated value of the goods, to the credit of the Treasurer of the United States, to be forfeited unless the invoice is produced within four months. This requirement, it is believed, will better insure the production of an invoice, or indemnify the United States for its non-production.

Another change from the present law is the requirement that American productions exported and returned to the United States shall be admitted free of duty only when they are returned within one year, the ownership remaining unchanged. The difficulty of identification of merchandise, where the time within which it may be returned is unlimited, as under the present law, after its frequent change of ownership in a foreign country, renders the proposed restriction necessary against fraud on the public revenue.

The time now prescribed by law for the unlading of vessels is fifteen and twenty days. It is proposed to prescribe eight and twelve working days for that purpose, according to the tonnage of the vessel; but the goods may be taken possession of by the collector at any time, with the consent of the owner or consignee of the goods, or with the consent of the owner or master of the vessel ; and to facilitate the unlading of steam-packets or vessels, it is proposed to authorize the collector, if the owner or consignee of the vessel will furnish a suitable fire-proof warehouse, to be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury, to cause the cargo to be transferred at any time he may think proper, on the request of the owner or consignee in writing, to such warehouse, to be treated therein and delivered therefrom as in or from the vessel, and to continue the discharge of the vessel during the night, should the owner desire it, on his paying an additional compensation therefor, to be distributed among the customs officers attending to the night discharge.

The present law limits the time within which proof of damage of merchandise on the voyage of importation must be lodged with the collector to ten days after landing. This has been found too brief a period, and it is proposed that the Secretary of the Treasury may, in Cquitable cases, extend the time not exceeding thirty days.

Chapter 7. To regulate the appraisement of imported merchandise.”

The provisions of this chapter, with some important additions, are mainly those of existing laws. It designates the officers who are to make the appraisements, what shall constitute the value on which the

duties shall be assessed, the powers of the appraisers and their duties in ascertaining such value, grants the right of appeal from their decisions to a merchant and appraiser at large, and makes their decision and the decision of the government appraisers, if not appealed from, final and conclusive. It imposes additional duty for under valuation, and authorizes the Secretary to cause merchandise to be reëxamined and reappraised by appraising and examining officers of other ports.

In addition to the provisions of the present law, the first section of this chapter makes it the duty of the collector, on the report to him by the appraisers, of the description and component materials of an article, to decide whether it is dutiable or not, and makes his decision final unless the owner or consignee shall, within a prescribed time, appeal to the Secretary of the Treasury, whose decision on such appeal shall be final and conclusive. A new provision is contained also in the third section, which authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to assign an appraiser at large to the duty of local appraisements, and to direct an appraiser at one port to act as an appraiser at another port.

This provision will tend to promote a uniformity of appraisement at the several ports, and prevent any improper concert or understanding which might take place between importers and an appraiser permanently located at the port. Another important addition to the present law will be found in the ninth section, which authorizes the Secretary, when deemed necessary, to order appraisements to be revised by the appraisers al large, or appraisers from other ports. Some such power as this cannot but be useful at times to test the fidelity and competency of appraising officers, and probably a knowledge that such a power car. be exercised will render the necessity of its exercise unfrequent. Another important additional provision is contained in the tenth section, by which the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to direct the whole cargo of a vessel, after entry, to be taken possession of by the collector, and examined and appraised by the proper appraising officer and reëxamined by special merchant examiners, and reappraised by appraisers at large, to ascertain the dutiable value and the identity of the goods with the manifest.

Under the proposed law, as under the present, duties are to be levied upon the general market value of the merchandise abroad. Purchased goods are required to be invoiced at their actual cost, goods procured otherwise than by purchase, at the foreign wholesale price or general market valı e. Under the present law the importer may add, in his entry of purchased goods, such an amount as will bring up his invoice cost to the general market value; and if the appraisers shall find the dutiable value of the goods to be ten per cent. above the value the importer has delared on his entry, he incurs an additional duty of 20 per cent. The law is changed in the 1lth section of this chapter so as to allow the importer of any goods, purchased or not, to add to or reduce in his entry the value given in his invoice, and an excess of 10 per cent. found by the appraisers above the entry value requires the imposition of an additional duty of 20 per cent.; but if the article is by law liable to a duty of more than 50 per cent., and is entered at a value by 10 per cent. or more below the value determined by appraisement, it becomes liable to an additional duty of 50 per ceni.

The change proposed puts all importers on a footing, and is an additional protection against under valuation.

Chapter 8. “To regulate the warehousing under bond of imported merchandise."

This chapter contains but a few provisions in addition to those of existing laws on the subject of warehousing,

It prescribes what shall be considered as bonded warehouses; what description of merchandise may be bonded; the exemption of the United States from risk and expense; the time merchandise may remain in bond; the mode and conditions in and under which it may be withdrawn for consumption, transportation to, re-warehousing at other ports, or exportation to foreign countries; and on what conditions and what evidence warehouse, transportation, and export bonds shall be cancelled; how accounts of bonded goods shall be kept, and returns thereof made to the treasury.

Important additions are made to the present law in the 17th, 18th, and 19th sections of this chapter, which prohibit, under heavy penalties, any owner or consignee of any goods entered in bond from preventing by himself, or any agent, the actual delivery of the same in warehouse, and from possessing himself, or putting others in possession thereof, or from withdrawing the same by corrupting the officer in charge or otherwise, without first obtaining a permít from the collector.

The experience of the department has suggested these additional provisions as necessary for the protection of the public revenue.

The 22d section is also additional to the existing law in some of its provisions. It prescribes the time and manner in which goods unclaimed, or remaining in warehouse beyond the time limited by law, or remaining in warehouse after entry for consumption without payment of duties, or remaining in warehouse not entered for want of invoice, shall be sold and the proceeds accounted for. Similar provisions now exist as to unclaimed goods, and it is found necessary to extend them to the several cases above enumerated.

Chapter 9. "To regulate the carriage of passengers in steamships and other vessels."

The principal provisions of our present laws, in regard to the carriage of passengers in merchant vessels, are brought together and arranged in this chapter. These provisions limit the number of passengers to be transported in vessels, appropriating certain spaces for their convenience; providing for the ventilation and cleanliness of the vessel, and victualling; for due inspection by officers of the customs, and reports of the condition of passenger vessels, and of the health and comfort of the passengers on the voyage, to the department.

The present law prescribes the spaces on the middle and orlop decks to be appropriated to passengers, and it has been hence inferred, by persons interested in passenger vessels, that the law intended to leave unlimited and without regulation the number of passengers to be carried on the upper or spar deck, and thus, it is believed, great abuse bave existed." It is now proposed to correct the evil by limiting the whole number of passengers wbich may be carried in merchant vessels to the proportion of one to every two tons of such vessel's tonnage.

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