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246          MEETING THE  WAR BILL

It will be remembered that in his Budget speech the
Chancellor was proceeding on the assumption that
the war would last till March 3ist next—the date at
which our financial year ends—and would then be
convenient enough to stop. Happily for us, the
valour of our soldiers and those of our Allies, the
splendid success of our Fleet and our merchantmen
In bringing,over American troops and their food and
equipment with astonishing speed, and the straight-
forward diplomacy of President Wilson, combined
to achieve victory nearly five months earlier than
the most sanguine had dared to expect. With the
very pleasant result—though it is a small matter
when compared with the end of the killing of the
best of our manhood—that the financial position is
very greatly improved. With regard to the figures
given above, it should be observed that the " debts "
are advances to Dominions, but on quite a different
basis from our loans to them, being money owed by
them against goods and services supplied.* They
and the balances in the hands of agents are both as
good as gold. Concerning the others, one is entitled
at first sight to feel a good deal of scepticism, since
such articles as land, buildings, ships and stores,
bought or built by Government during a war, are
likely to find an extremely sluggish demand when the
war is over. However, Mr Bonar Law assured the
House that his valuation of these amounts had been
arrived at on a conservative basis, and, what is better
still, in his Vote of Credit speech on November I2th,
he was able to state that revised estimates had shown
* Parliamentary Debates, Vol. 105, No, 33, p. 698,