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private banks were included, since their number
has been reduced, since 1891, from 37 to 6. These
figures are eloquent of the manner in which the
number of individual banks has been reduced, while
the extent of the banking accommodation given to
the community has enormously, grown, so that the
power wielded by each individual bank has increased
by the force of both these processes.

The consequent reduction in competition which
is causing some concern among the trading com-
munity has not, as it seems to me, gone far enough
yet to be a serious danger. The idea that the big
banks with offices in London give scant considera-
tion to the needs of their local customers seems to
be so contrary to the interests of the banks that
they would be extraordinarily bad men of business
if those who were responsible for their management
allowed it to be the fact. It is 'probably nearer the
truth that banking competition in the provinces is
still so keen that the London management is very
careful not to allow anything like bureaucratic stiff-
ness to get into the methods by which their business
is managed. By the appointment of local com-
mittees they are careful to do all they can to see
that the local interests get all the credit that is
good for them. That local interests get as much
credit as they want is probably very seldom the
case, because it is a natural instinct on the part of
an eager business man to want rather more credit
than he ought to have, from a banking point of view.
Business interests, as long as they exist in private
hands, will always want rather more credit than