- Joseph Gold
- Published Date:
- September 1983
Report of U.S. Gold Commission
Findings and Recommendations
The Gold Commission was appointed by the Secretary of the United States Treasury on June 22, 1981 in accordance with Section 10 of Public Law 96-389246 to “conduct a study to assess and make recommendations with regard to the policy of the U.S. Government concerning the role of gold in domestic and international monetary systems.” In March 1982, the Commission discharged its duty of reporting to Congress.247 The appointment of the Commission was followed by a cataract of suggestions in learned and other publications in the United States and elsewhere on the conclusions that the Commission should reach.
The findings and recommendations presented in an introductory chapter of the Commission’s report represent the views of a majority of the Commission. Almost every view, however, is subject to dissents or qualifications by individual members of the Commission.
Chapter 1 surveys economic developments of recent years that led to establishment of the Commission, including the unprecedented rise in inflation in the United States since the mid-1960s. Public interest had developed in institutional arrangements that would ensure a reasonable approximation to price stability in an economy in which resources were relatively fully employed in a balanced and sustainable way. Chapter 2 examines the history of gold in the United States. Chapter 3 explores the strengths and weaknesses of possible monetary standards, including a number of versions of a gold standard. Chapter 4 reviews the current role of gold and considers possible changes.
The recommendations of the Commission, which range from matters of modest domestic interest in the United States to matters of the broadest international concern, can be summarized as follows:
1. The Commission supported the Treasury’s plan to improve the existing program for the sale of gold medallions under a statute of 1978. 248
2. The Commission favored issue by the Treasury of gold bullion coins of specified weights, without dollar denomination or legal tender character,249 to be manufactured from the Treasury’s existing stock of gold. Sales would be at a small premium over the market value of the gold content. The coins would be exempt from capital gains and sales taxes.250
3. The Commission opposed the issue of Treasury gold-backed notes or bonds.251 Some witnesses had proposed that the repayment of principal and the payment of interest would be made in gold. The instruments were regarded by some of these witnesses as a means of introducing gold into the monetary system of the United States and of leading possibly to the convertibility of all dollar obligations into gold.
4. Various recommendations of the Commission related to the gold stock owned by the United States Government:
(i) Some U.S. citizens had been concerned that there had been unauthorized withdrawals of gold and that official accounting had been inadequate. The Commission was satisfied that the law on audit of the official gold stock was being observed and that the audit was an adequate basis for verification of the inventory records.
(ii) The Commission was satisfied with the relationship between gold certificates held as an asset of the Federal Reserve System and the gold held by the Treasury, and with the reporting procedures of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System. Some U.S. citizens had considered the Treasury’s claim to ownership of the gold and the Federal Reserve System’s presentation of the certificates as assets to be double counting of the same asset.
The Commission explained that the Government owned the gold and that ownership of it was not represented by the certificates. Gold certificates, valued at $42.22 per ounce of gold, are liabilities of the Treasury and are issued against its stock. The Treasury had received a counterpart deposit for the certificates in its account with the Federal Reserve. All gold held by the Treasury had been monetized in this way. New certificates could be issued only if the Treasury acquired additional gold or if the statutory price at which certificates may be issued was increased. If gold was sold, an equivalent amount in certificates would be retired and the Treasury’s deposit balance reduced.
(iii) The U.S. gold stock was a little over 700 million fine troy ounces at the end of 1949, 345 million ounces at the end of 1967, and 264 million ounces at the time of the report. All agreed that a zero stock was not appropriate and therefore that the total stock should not be sold by auction. A minority of the Commission preferred that the present stock should not be reduced further even though an increase in the monetary role of gold was not now timely. The stock should be held as a reserve for possible future use if a restored role for gold then appeared feasible, or against other contingencies. In support of this view, it was suggested that if an international monetary conference of free world countries were convened to recommend changes in the international monetary system, it would be useful for the United States to hold a substantial amount of gold in order to influence deliberations and to be in a strong position if the role of gold were re-established.
A majority of the Commission held the view that a limited depletion of the gold stock, for example as a result of the programs for the issue of medallions or coins, was acceptable. The Commission recommended that, while no precise level for the gold stock was necessarily “right,” the Treasury should retain authority to conduct sales at its discretion, provided that adequate levels were maintained for contingencies.252
(iv) The Treasury values its gold stock at $42.22 per ounce. The Commission noted that revaluing the gold stock at a price closer to the market price253 had been supported so that the Treasury could raise revenue by selling part of its gold. The revenue could be used to retire debt and avoid the payment of interest on outstanding securities or could be used to finance the federal budget deficit. It had been argued also that international agreement to value gold at the market price might be a step toward making gold an international medium for settling disequilibria in balances of payments and enabling it to be used for intervention in the foreign exchange markets in support of the exchange rate for the dollar.
The Commission regarded the choice of a price at which to revalue gold held in reserves as independent of a decision on the price at which to restore a gold standard.
The Commission recommended that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve should conduct studies of issues that would be involved in a move toward valuing gold realistically at something closer to market prices. The change should be subject to the legislative constraint that the proceeds of this new valuation must not be monetized by the Treasury or in any way used to enhance the government’s spending power.254 The studies should develop a formula and a timetable for valuing the U.S. gold stock in a manner realistically related to the market value.
(v) The Commission examined the general proposition that constructive uses should be found for the gold stock that would put an end to its present immobility. Swaps,255 leases, and other commercial uses to generate revenue, intervention in the foreign exchange markets, settlement of balance of payments disequilibria, and open market operations had been some of the suggested uses.
The Commission did not favor unconventional uses of the gold stock because the objectives sought by adding gold to the policy instruments of the monetary and fiscal authorities were attainable without such uses and because the side effects of these uses might be undesirable. The continued study of the role of gold in the monetary system was favored, however, and the Commission recommended that Congress should hold hearings on the subject.
5. The Commission had examined the reintroduction of gold in arrangements for domestic monetary policy256 as a means of monetary control for the purpose of reducing inflation. The Commission mentioned various ways in which monetary aggregates could be related to the gold stock. Most members of the Commission believed that return to a domestic gold standard was not desirable. Even if that were not the view, two major problems would affect the feasibility of a domestic gold standard. One problem would be how to determine the fixed dollar price of gold at which to resume a gold cover requirement. The other problem was the absence of a sound guide on the extent to which the convertibility of domestic dollar obligations was feasible.
The Commission recommended that the Congress and the Federal Reserve should study the merits of establishing a rule specifying that the growth of the nation’s money supply be maintained at a steady rate that ensured long-run price stability. The Commission concluded that, in present circumstances, restoring a gold standard did not appear to be a fruitful method for dealing with the continuing problem of inflation. The Congress and the Federal Reserve should study ways to improve the conduct of monetary policy, including the possible adoption of a monetary rule.
Some members of the Commission objected to the references in this recommendation to a monetary rule, because the rule was not related to gold. These members held that the Commission’s terms of reference were confined to the role of gold domestically and internationally.
It will be recalled that the Second Amendment prohibits maintenance by a member of an external value for its currency in terms of gold,257 but does not prohibit purely domestic functions for gold. For example, the Fund has not objected to Section 14(c) of the Gold Reserve Act,258 as amended, of the United States, under which the last par value of the U.S. dollar ($42.22 per ounce of fine gold) is “the legal standard” in terms of which the amount of gold certificates issued by the Treasury is calculated.259 Many members of the Fund have adopted legislation or other measures under which they provide in various ways for the valuation of official gold holdings.260
6. The Commission discussed a system of par values fixed in terms of gold. Most members of the Commission thought that even if other countries with substantial gold stocks and the major gold producing countries were to agree with the United States on the restoration of an international gold standard, the United States and the system as a whole would have to confront the problem of the vast worldwide quantity of dollars that would be potential claims to conversion with gold. The Commission was not aware of international interest in restoring an international gold standard. On the contrary, a number of foreign officials had expressed negative views.
The Commission discussed also the desirability of taking steps to seek “restitution” of the gold that the United States and other members had subscribed to the Fund. The Commission noted that under the present Articles, the Fund could sell gold at the former official price (SDR 1 = 0.888 671 gram of fine gold) to members that were members on August 31, 1975.
The arguments against restitution listed by the Commission were that gold no longer has a central role in the international monetary system and no longer serves as the common denominator of a par value system or as the unit of value of the SDR; the official price of gold has been abolished; members of the Fund have no obligation to use gold in transactions with the Fund; and the Fund cannot accept gold from members unless approved by a decision taken with a majority of 85 percent of the total voting power. The Fund’s sales of gold were further evidence of the intention to establish a diminished role for gold in the Fund’s resources.
Some of these arguments are stated in broad terms that disregard the precision of the Articles. It is true that members have no obligation to use gold in transactions with the Fund, but the Fund also has no obligation to use gold in transactions with members. Nor is the Fund entitled to use gold in transactions. The Fund has authority, however, as the Commission noted, to accept gold, instead of SDRs or currency, from members in discharge of their obligations to the Fund.261 The provision giving this authority was adopted as part of the compromise on the treatment of gold under the Second Amendment. The provision was a concession to those members that wanted some recognition of an official status for gold even if the power conferred on the Fund was never exercised. If the Fund were to accept gold, the price would be agreed between the member using gold and the Fund for each operation or transaction on the basis of market prices. There is no corresponding provision under which the Fund can use gold, instead of SDRs or currency, in settling obligations to members.262
Although the Fund is not entitled to use gold in normal operations or transactions, the Fund has powers to sell gold under two provisions to willing purchasers. One of the provisions authorizes the Fund to sell gold for currency to members or to any other purchasers at a price agreed with the purchaser for each transaction on the basis of prices in the market.263 A majority of 85 percent of the total voting power is necessary for the exercise of this power. The other provision264 authorizes what the Commission and others refer to as “restitution.” The word is inappropriate legally but came into use because, in the discussions of the Committee of Twenty and of the Interim Committee before the Second Amendment, some members thought that they had a moral lien on the Fund’s gold as the result of having subscribed gold. The word “restitution” does not appear in the Articles, but there is tacit acceptance of this thought in the limitation of the circle of members to which gold can be sold at the former official price to those countries that were members on August 31, 1975. That date is the one on which the agreement on the future treatment of gold was recorded in a communiqué of the Interim Committee.265 Sales of gold to those members in the circle that are willing to buy it are made in proportion to their quotas on that same date. No member is compelled to purchase gold under this provision. A majority of 85 percent of the total voting power is necessary for decisions under this provision also.266
The Commission recorded as an argument against restitution the same view that it advanced to justify the retention of gold holdings by the United States. If gold was an important strategic and monetary resource for the United States, gold had the same importance for the international community and should be retained by the Fund “for possible use in various contingencies.”267
The Commission’s recommendations on international monetary arrangements are formulated as follows:
We favor no change in the flexible exchange rate system. In addition, we favor no change in the usage of gold in the operation of the present exchange rate arrangements.
We oppose action by the United States to seek a restitution of IMF gold to member countries.268
The introductory chapter is concluded with the following statement:
In presenting our report, we are conscious of the complexity of an attempt to define what the role of gold should be in the domestic and international monetary systems.
The majority of us at this time favor essentially no change in the present role of gold. Yet, we are not prepared to rule out that an enlarged role for gold may emerge at some future date. If reasonable price stability and confidence in our currency are not restored in the years ahead, we believe that those who advocate an immediate return to gold will grow in numbers and political influence. If there is success in restoring price stability and confidence in our currency, tighter linkage of our monetary system to gold may well become supererogatory.
The minority of us who regard gold as the only real money the world has ever known have placed our views on record: the only way price stability can be restored here (indeed, in the world) is by making the dollar (and other national currencies) convertible into gold. Linking money to gold domestically and internationally will solve the problem of inflation, high interest rates, and budget deficits.
We have made no attempt to conceal the divisions among us. In that respect, our views probably represent the range of opinions held by the country at large. We hope, nevertheless, that our report will make a contribution to public understanding of the important issues involved. In that event, the time we have devoted to preparatory study before our meetings and to the deliberations themselves will have been well spent.269
Some Further Legal Aspects
The Commission’s report distinguishes between a domestic gold standard and an international gold standard, each with a fixed price for gold. A distinction is made by reference to the purpose of the two standards. The purpose of the domestic standard would be to control the monetary base while leaving exchange rates flexible. The purpose of the international standard would be to maintain fixed relationships among currencies, to permit gold, or dollars convertible into gold at the fixed price, to be used in the settlement of payments imbalances, and to enable the monetary base to vary in relation to flows of gold.
The report does not discuss the compatibility of the domestic gold standard with the Articles. In proscribing gold as a denominator, the Articles state that “exchange arrangements”270 may include the maintenance by a member of a value for its currency in terms of the SDR or another denominator, “other than gold,”271 selected by the member. But although a domestic gold standard may not be an “exchange arrangement,” it can have international effects and therefore it would be of interest to the Fund under Article IV.
The report draws attention to prospective international effects of two kinds. First, under a domestic gold standard with the interconvertibility of gold and dollars limited to residents of the United States, the problem of enforcing the limitation appeared to be intractable. Residents might be required to declare under oath that they were acting for themselves or other residents when demanding or supplying gold in transactions with the monetary authorities. Alternatively, imports and exports of gold could be prohibited. Opportunities for profitable violation would arise with discrepancies between the U.S. fixed price and the world market price of gold. Whichever procedure was followed, an army of inspectors would seem to be necessary.
The other kind of international effect would arise from the shift by American investors from foreign currency into gold, which would impose the whole burden of adjustment on the exchange rate between the dollar and the foreign currency because the dollar price of gold would not change. If substantial portfolio shifts by residents of the United States between foreign currencies and gold were to occur, and if all else remained equal, exchange rates would tend to become more variable than they have been. Other countries could peg their currencies to the dollar, but the report asks whether in that event they would be able to engage in gold transactions with the United States.272
The report states that an international gold standard with a fixed price for gold could be achieved either by international agreement or by evolution. The United States could be the first to reinstitute the fixed price and others could follow because they were persuaded to do so by the success demonstrated by the United States in stabilizing the domestic price level. The suggestion seems to be that a domestic gold standard would become an international gold standard also as soon as another country followed the lead of the United States. If that assumption is correct, the present prohibition of exchange arrangements in which gold is the denominator for maintaining the value of a currency would apply. The legal problems of compatibility with the Articles would arise if countries began to observe an international gold standard whether they did so because of international agreement or as the result of an evolutionary process.
The Commission seems to have been under the impression that only a multilateral return to an international gold standard would require amendment of the Articles.273 Amendment would be necessary even if only some members wished to establish an international gold standard. In those circumstances, the amendment of Article IV, Section 2(b) would be necessary. If a widespread movement was in view, the amendment of Schedule C would have to be considered.
In either event, but particularly if there was a widespread return to an international gold standard, a sweeping modification of the Articles might have to be undertaken. The problem would be how much of the Articles that preceded the Second Amendment would have to be restored. Would gold be used as freely as in the past in operations and transactions between the Fund and members? What limits of price would members have to observe in their gold transactions? Would the SDR be defined in terms of gold? Numerous other problems would have to be faced by reversal of the policy of the present Articles to reduce the role of gold in the international monetary system.274
Application of Gold Units of Account
Courts continue to be called upon to apply units of account defined in terms of gold, such as the Poincaré or the Germinal franc, under provisions of domestic law that give effect to treaties limiting the liability of entrepreneurs in a particular industry. Cases in which courts have to face this problem still arise because of the slow pace of litigation and also because the amendment of existing treaties or the replacement of them by new treaties has not yet become effective. The SDR is to replace the gold unit of account in all proposed amendments or substitute treaties.
The judicial approach to the problem is discussed in Appendix B of Volume II of The Fund Agreement in the Courts.275 The discussion shows how diverse the solutions have been. Courts have translated a gold unit of account into the domestic currency of the forum by relating the unit of account to:
(i) the last par value of the currency established under the Articles of the Fund;
(ii) the last par value adjusted according to a retail price index;
(iii) the last central rate notified to the Fund under the decisions on central rates and wider margins adopted after the par value system ceased to be observed;
(iv) the current French franc as if it were the Poincaré franc;
(v) the market price of gold;
(vi) the former definition of the SDR in terms of gold and the current value of the SDR in terms of the domestic currency.
The practice of the central bank of the country of the forum in valuing its own gold holdings has been relied on to justify the application of a formula based in some way on the market price of gold, but so far a central bank’s practice has not been applied as if it were authoritative in itself. Central banks that have based the valuation of their holdings on the market price have applied a variety of formulas for this purpose.276 All solutions other than the market price are repudiations of the market price. The confusion created by the absence of uniformity among countries is compounded by the different solutions adopted by courts in the same country.277
The decision of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, delivered on May 1, 1981, in Giants Shipping Corporation v. State of the Netherlands (The Blue Hawk) is an outstanding case.278 The Supreme Court was called upon to apply the Poincaré franc in domestic legislation that gave the force of law to the Convention Concerning the Limitation of Liability of Owners of Seagoing Vessels signed at Brussels on October 10, 1957. The text of the International Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1976 was settled at a Conference of the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) in London in 1976. The London Convention is to replace the Brussels Convention. The SDR is the unit of account in which limits on liability are expressed in the London Convention,279 but this convention has not yet come into force. Similarly, the Agreement on a Protocol to the Brussels Convention of December 21, 1979 to deal with the problem of valuation by applying the SDR solution for the time being has not yet come into force.280 A bill had been introduced into the Lower House of Parliament in the Netherlands that dealt with the translation into Netherlands currency of units of account expressed in gold, but it had not yet been passed into law at the time when the Supreme Court considered its decision. The bill provided for the SDR solution, that is, the translation of the Poincaré franc into the SDR according to the ratio of SDR 1 = 15 francs on the basis of the definition in terms of gold of the Poincaré franc and of the SDR before the Second Amendment.
The Netherlands had abolished by statute the former par value of the guilder. The State of the Netherlands, the aggrieved party in the case, contended that in the circumstances there was no alternative to the application of the market price of gold. The Supreme Court chose the SDR solution. The court held that, for the Netherlands, gold had lost all monetary significance, and therefore gold could no longer perform a function under the Brussels Convention. A gap existed in the international provisions, which the court had to fill. The SDR had been accepted by the members of the Fund as a standard in international monetary transactions, and it could serve as the standard that would achieve the objectives of the Brussels Convention. The SDR had a link to gold because there had been no break in the value of the SDR in terms of currencies when the method of valuation was changed from gold to a basket of currencies.
On September 28, 1982, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Franklin Mint Corporation et al. v. Trans World Airlines, Inc.281 rejected the decision of the lower court,282 which had based application of the Poincaré franc in the Warsaw Convention on the last official price of gold in U.S. dollars.283 The Circuit Court of Appeals held that there was a “devastating”284 argument against each of the four solutions that had been advanced in argument: the last official price, the market price of gold, the SDR, and the current French franc.
The court’s reaction to the SDR solution was that there was no authority for it in the Warsaw Convention. The U.S. Senate had not yet ratified the Protocols to the Convention, in which the SDR is the unit of account. If the court chose the SDR solution, that step would have to be followed by a further step in which the court would have to define the limits of liability on the basis of the SDR without any guidance by the convention.
Finally, the SDR is a creature of an international body, the IMF, and is subject to modification or outright elimination by that body. In fact, the method of calculating SDR’s has been changed three times in the last seven years. This Court has no power under the terms of the Convention or relevant domestic source of authority to adopt a unit of conversion variable at the whim of an international body distinct from the parties to the Convention.285
The court concluded, therefore, that the limits of liability in the Warsaw Convention are unenforceable. This ruling was to be prospective. It would apply to events creating liability that occur 60 days or more from the issuance of the mandate in the case (i.e., on or after December 20, 1982, unless the mandate is stayed). The court chose prospective effect because the case was the first one in which the court decreed the unenforceability of the limits on liability, and carriers should be given time to reformulate their tariffs. For events occurring before the future date chosen by the court, the last official price of gold would be used to calculate the limits on liability.
The court has chosen a nonsolution to add to the list of solutions already adopted for applying a gold unit of account. Fiat justititia—if it is indeed justitia—ruat coelum is a particularly unfortunate attitude to take to the Warsaw Convention.
In a petition to the court for a rehearing, Trans World Airlines argued that the court’s decision, if allowed to stand, might abrogate the Warsaw Convention as a whole and not merely the provisions on the limitation of liability. Other treaties in which the Poincaré franc is the unit of account would endure the same fate. The airline argued also that the court had ignored the primary intent of the signatories to the treaty and had failed to take account of the principle that treaties should be interpreted so as to make them effective. Moreover, the court, in rejecting the SDR as the medium for applying the Poincaré franc, had ignored the rule that the subsequent conduct of the signatories is evidence of their intent for the purposes of interpretation. The action of the signatories in approving the Montreal Protocols should have been taken into account, not so that the court could apply them as if they had been ratified, but so that they could assist in the interpretation of the Warsaw Convention.
The transition to the basket method of valuing the SDR had not affected the immediate value of currencies in terms of the SDR. For this and other reasons, the court had
overlooked the fact that the role of gold as an international unit of account is now performed by SDRs and that, therefore, SDR’s may be used to translate the original Warsaw limits into dollars in order to effectuate the universally accepted intent of the parties to the treaty.286
The petition for rehearing has been denied. TWA has requested, and been granted, a stay of the mandate pending consideration by the Supreme Court of the United States of a petition for appeal to that tribunal.
Meanwhile, an Illinois Federal court287 has declined to follow the decision in the Franklin Mint case. The court noted that the Civil Aeronautics Board continues to allow airlines to calculate their limitation of liability under the Warsaw Convention on the basis of the last official price of gold. The court adopted this solution and explained it as follows:
We recognize that each of the solutions offered by the parties here and elsewhere is easy to criticize. What is needed is a treaty amendment, but we do not have that. Therefore, we have to choose one of the other alternatives. The one which seems most nearly to effectuate the intention of the treaty to limit the liability of air carriers is to employ the last official United States price of gold. We agree with the court in In Re Air Crash Disaster at Warsaw, Poland, 535 F. Supp. 833, 843 (S.D.N.Y. 1982), which, in holding as we do, stated:
The clear merit of using this price as the unit for conversion is that the price constitutes a conversion factor established by precisely the kind of mechanism that the Convention’s drafters contemplated when the applicable clauses were drafted. The use of the last official United States price for gold means the use of a conversion factor chosen by the United States at the time the price was set to determine the relationship of this country’s currency and those of other nations using a similar standard for conversion. Such a conversion factor, grounded in the policy of this country with respect to the value of its currency vis a vis all other currencies based upon the gold standard has a stability which would be entirely lost if the unit of conversion were subject to the fluctuations of a private commodities market relatively untouched by the regulating influence of any public policy.
Pamphlet No. 26 (1979)288 discussed various legislative techniques that have been employed to provide for the translation into the domestic currency of gold units of account in conventions. One technique is authority conferred on a Minister to adopt orders declaring the value of a unit of account in terms of the domestic currency without instructing the Minister how he is to make the calculation. Under some British statutes, orders have been issued prescribing the value of the gold unit of account in sterling, with an accompanying explanation that the amount had been determined by reference to the SDR. The amounts remain fixed until a new order is promulgated. The orders are binding on the courts and relieve them of the problem of determining how they should translate a gold unit of account into sterling.
The Federal Republic of Germany has followed a different procedure. The Bundestag adopted a law on June 9, 1980289 expressing the Federal Republic’s approval of the protocols to three conventions. Until these protocols enter into force in the Federal Republic, the gold units of account in the conventions are to be translated into deutsche mark at the ratio of SDR 1 = 15 Poincaré francs or 3 Germinal francs. Both ratios are determined by the definitions in terms of gold of the two francs and of the SDR under the First Amendment of the Fund’s Articles. The value of the SDR in terms of the deutsche mark is determined according to the method applied by the Fund in its operations and transactions. The law provides that similar solutions are to apply under specified conventions and under a provision of the Commercial Code.
An explanatory Bundestag document stated that since the entry into force of the Second Amendment a generally recognized method for translating a gold franc into the national currency had been lacking, and it was advisable, therefore, to make transitional arrangements in order to avoid uncertainty. It was necessary, in order to provide judicial certainty, to make domestic arrangements for the purpose of conventions other than those for which protocols were being approved by the law.
In the conventions themselves the manner in which gold francs are to be converted into national currency has not been prescribed. As mentioned earlier, the assumption was that, in the countries that were parties to the conventions, a fixed relationship of value existed between gold and the national currency. Now that this is no longer so, it seems that the resulting gap should be filled by domestic legislation as long as a new international arrangement adapted to the changed circumstances has not entered into force. (Translation)
The advisory opinion submitted by the Attorney General of the Netherlands Supreme Court in The Blue Hawk cited this law, and ftesume mentioned legislative measures or ministerial orders that were similar in effect and had been promulgated in Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.