Every week—almost every day—brings with it the announcement of some new committee considering some question that may, or may not, arise now or when the war is over. Especially in the realm of finance has the Government’s output of committees been notably prolific of late. We have had a Committee on Currency, a Committee on Banking Amalgamations, and a Committee appointed, humorously enough, by the Ministry of Reconstruction to consider what measures, if any, should be taken to protect the public interest in connection with the policy of industrial combinations—a policy which the Board of Trade has been sedulously fostering. Now comes a Committee to inquire “what amendments are expedient in the Companies Acts, 1908-1917, principally having regard to the circumstances arising out of the war, and to the developments likely to arise on its conclusion, and to report to the Board of Trade and to the Ministry of Reconstruction.” It is composed of the Right Hon. Lord Wrenbury (chairman), Mr A.S. Comyns Carr, Sir F. Crisp, Mr G.W. Currie, M.P., Mr F. Gaspard Farrer, Mr Frank Gore-Browne, K.C., Mr James Martin, the Hon. Algernon H. Mills, Mr R.D. Muir, Mr C.T. Needham, M.P., Mr H.A. Payne, Sir Owen Philipps, M.P., Sir William Plender, Mr O.C. Quekett, and Mr A.W. Tait. The secretary is Mr W.W. Coombs, 55, Whitehall, S.W. 1. There are some good names on the Committee. Mr. Gaspard Farrer represents a great issuing house; Sir Frank Crisp, company lawyers; Sir William Plender, the accountants; Mr O.C. Quekett, the Stock Exchange; and Sir Owen Philipps, the shipping interest. Nevertheless, one cannot help shuddering when one considers the dangers that threaten British finance and industry from ill-considered measures which might possibly be recommended by a Committee influenced by the atmosphere of the present outlook on financial and commercial affairs.
One of the interesting features of the present war atmosphere is the fact that, now when we are fighting as hard as we can to defeat all that is meant by Prussianism a great many of our rulers and public men are doing their best to impose Prussianising methods upon this unfortunate country, merely because it is generally assumed that Prussian methods have been shown, during the course of the war, to carry with them a certain amount of efficiency. It is certainly true that Prussian methods do very well as applied to the Prussians and submitted to by other races of Germans. On the other hand, it is at least open to argument that the British method of freedom, individual initiative, elasticity and adaptability have produced results, during the present war, which have so far been paralleled by no other country engaged in the contest. Working on interior lines with the assistance of docile and entirely submissive allies, Germany has certainly done wonderful things in the war, but it by no means follows that the verdict of posterity will not give the palm of achievement to England, who has not only carried out everything that she promised to do before the war, but has incidentally and in the course of it created and equipped an Army on a Continental scale, and otherwise done very much more for the assistance of her Allies than was contemplated before the war began.