HC Deb 23 February 1927 vol 202 cc1825-7

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 71A.

[Captain FITZROY in the Chair.]

Motion made, and question proposed, That, for the purpose of any Act of the present Session relating to local loans, it is expedient—

  1. (a) to authorise the remission of arrears of principal and interest due to the Public 1826 Works Loans Commissioners in respect of Eyemouth Harbour; and
  2. (b) to authorise the National Debt Commissioners to accept the payment by the Government of the Irish Free State of an annuity of six hundred thousand pounds for twenty years in discharge of the liability of the said Government outstanding on the first day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty-six, in respect of the Local Loans Fund."—(King's Recommendation Signified) [Mr. McNeill.]

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Before we part from this Resolution, I would like to make a few comments with respect to the Irish Free State which arise out of the explanation given to mo by the right hon. Gentleman on the previous Order—the Second Reading of the Public Works Loans Bill. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that I had barely kept in order in making certain observations and putting certain questions about the financial position a the Irish Free State. I should have thought that as this is a 20-years' arrangement, that I was pretty much in order. However, I made my remarks, I hope, in a good-humoured way, as I do now. I cannot refrain on the Committee stage of this Resolution from pointing out, as a lesson for all of us, that here we are in 1927 discussing in the calmest way and in a good-natured atmosphere, the payment of £600,000 a year for 20 years from the Irish Free State Government to the British Exchequer. Older Members of this House will remember some of the all-night sittings which we had, and some of the heated scenes, when the two benches below the Gangway on the Opposition side, now occupied with so much grace by the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson), were occupied by the serried hosts of the Irish Nationalists. The point to remember is, that the right hon. Gentleman and his party opposite always answered the pleas that financial arrangements such as this should be left to the Irish Free State Government, by saying, "If you allow these people to arrange their own finances, and so forth, there will be anarchy, misery, civil war and the breakup of the Empire." Now, we are arranging to receive £600,000 a year for 20 years from the Irish Free State, and nobody on the benches opposite thinks of questioning where the money comes from. It shows how extremely bad at prophecy the party opposite is when it comes to great affairs of the Empire.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.

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