In view of what has occurred I suppose there is very little use debating this matter in any great detail, but it is essential that Deputies should have a further chance of determining what they are about to commit the country to. I contend that under the London Agreement the strict reading was that we were to repay to the British Government the sums which they had advanced to us, and which had come into our Exchequer. I find on examination of the Government proposals, as outlined in Section 6, that that has not been adhered to, and that the situation has been altered to our manifest disadvantage. I would like to get some answer from the Government, but so far they have consistently ignored it, as to why we were first liable for interest, and why we are accepting capital liability on their own figures of 5¼ millions, when we have only received, according to Mr. Baldwin's statement, four millions. What is the difference? It is just over 1¼ millions. Mr. Baldwin's exact words were: "Our liability will be in excess of five millions, but we are retaining a sum of £900,000." Even if it were 5¼ millions, which the Government is assuming, does not that mean that the British Government had handed over a sum of £4,300,000? It is difficult to understand what the finance of our Executive Council is. There is one thing must be apparent even to the most dense, that they had a bad case, and that they know they bungled their job. They have accepted liability for sums which never came to them, and which the country must bear because they were not able to do a sum in subtraction.
The country must repay this sum of £900,000. In the course of 60 years it must redeem it, and pay an interest of 4½ per cent. for all that period. The sum of £2,700,000 will fall upon the people of the Saorstát. Similarly we will send across to London 57 payments out of our Exchequer of £250,000 annually, or, in other words, a sum of £14,250,000. Our debt at the moment cannot exceed more than £4,250,000, so we are losing £10,000,000. What is the justification for our paying that money? If we did owe £5,000,000, which I deny, there is a sum retained by the British to our detriment, which is not the fault of the British but of the Government here when they offered them an annuity of £250,000 for 60 years. If we are to meet this payment if that sum of £900,000 which the British hold was justly due by us, and if it is withheld as interest and sinking fund, then a year should elapse from the date of the London Pact before any interest is due. The normal proceeding would be to meet this at the beginning of the financial year 1927, nearly a year hence. There is no interest due in the interval. It is not business-like to ask us to meet the charge this year, and it shows a lamentable want of financial policy, or financial astuteness, on the part of our Government. There are three sums which the British hold, one of £400,000 and two of £250,000 each. One in one eventuality would not fall due until two years hence, and in another case would not fall due until three years hence. That is something at the moment, and they are getting a discount which they would not be entitled to until three years had elapsed. If you were to discount £250,000 due three years hence, how many thousands would it amount to?