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The President's News Conference

October 04, 1929

THE PRESIDENT. I have one or two questions before I have something else to discuss with you.

COMPTROLLER'S REPORT ON THE SHIPPING BOARD

I have a question on the Comptroller's report on the Shipping Board. That report relates to transactions mostly several years ago and all of them prior to this administration. It is my understanding that there is no charge of misfeasance, but in any event I have requested the Attorney General to study the Comptroller's report and to determine that there [p.313] are no violations of the law. That is fair to the Board and the employees, and it should be done.

Q. Mr. President, would that cover civil violations in money matters as well as anything else ?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes.

TRANSFER OF LEAVENWORTH PRISON

I also have a question as to whether the Army prison at Leavenworth has been actually turned over to the Department of Justice. That has been done, and a considerable number of prisoners have already been transferred to it in relief of congestion elsewhere.

DISCUSSION TOPICS FOR PRIME MINISTER MACDONALD'S VISIT

Now, I would like to talk to you for just a moment about Mr. MacDonald's visit, and not for publication or quotation, but just for your own information. I am particularly anxious that it shall be an agreeable occasion, and I thought if I outlined to you a little bit of the character of the discussions that are likely to take place it will enable you to keep on the track somewhat.

Mr. MacDonald's visit is solely one of good will and a desire to promote friendly relations between the United States and Great Britain. On our side we reciprocate the spirit of it to the utmost.

Mr. MacDonald and I will no doubt review the problems of the maintenance of peace and the cultivation of good will in the very widest aspects, and both of our nations must have peace. We must, if we can, secure it for the peace of the rest of the world. It is vital for the internal development of both of our social and economic life, and I shall, no doubt, have an opportunity to exchange experiences and views with Mr. MacDonald on most of our domestic problems.

We shall no doubt discuss the broader problems of the naval accord which we hope to bring about between all the naval powers.

The American position on the naval accord is one of extreme simplicity. We have agreed to parity between the United States and Great 313 [p.314] Britain. We are prepared to reduce the tonnage of our combatant ships to any standard which the British see necessary for them to establish on their side. We shall not discuss technical questions. Mr. MacDonald has brought no technical advisers with him. It would be of no use and perhaps unfair for us to propose technical questions for him to decide. We shall not discuss the question of cruiser tonnage, as that is largely a technical question, and it is within range easily solvable in general discussion, and further discussion of that I don't presume will arise until the conference actually convenes in January.

There are a number of things that we will not discuss, and on which it will be utterly false to speculate. There will be no discussion of the entry of the United States into the League of Nations or the World Court. There will be no discussion of anything leading to the remotest relationship in the nature of entente or alliances. The United States never enters into an entente or alliance with anyone. We will not discuss tariff. There will be no discussion of trivialities such as the I'm Alone case.

Mr. MacDonald has declared there will be no discussion of the debt question. As a matter of fact, there is nothing to discuss on either side in connection with the debt. It is settled from our point of view, and it is settled from the British point of view, especially in the light of the Balfour note by which any reduction in the debt would not benefit the British people but other nations. So that question is a closed one from both sides, and there will be no discussion on it.

The broad fact is that we are greatly honored by Mr. MacDonald's visit. The heads of European states have frequent opportunity to meet and discuss matters of public interest. It is very rarely that it comes to us to entertain so distinguished a guest, and I am in hopes that the result of it will be a solid growth of better understanding and good feeling on both sides of the Atlantic.

I know from the attitude of the press in the last month and its attitude generally on questions of hospitality that it will make its contribution to that end, and a great deal of the success of it rests with the press maintaining the attitude that you have already established.

And that is as far as, and all that I know on the subject.

WEEKEND VISIT TO RAPIDAN

Q. Mr. President, would it be fair to ask you if you are going down to Virginia tomorrow ?

THE PRESIDENT. That depends entirely on the weather. If the sun shines we will go to the Rapidan.

Q. Who will the guests be?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that Mr. MacDonald and his daughter, Mrs. Hoover, and probably the Secretary of State, and Mr. MacDonald may take one of the gentlemen with him, while I don't know which one.

Note: President Hoover's fifty-fifth news conference was held in the White House at 3 p.m. on Friday, October 4, 1929. The White House also issued a text of the President's statement on the investigation of the U.S. Shipping Board (see Item 225).

Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207386

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