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A  CURIOUS   REASON              185

lay in the forefront of its investigations was that of
the employment of foreign capital in British in-
dustries. On the preliminary question of whether
it was desirable that foreign capital should be
freely attracted to this country, there was little, if
any, difference of opinion. For this very sensible
conclusion the Committee gives rather a curious
reason. It states that the maintenance of London
as the financial centre of the world is of the first
importance for the well-being of the Empire, and
that anything which could impede or restrict the
free flow of capital to the United Kingdom would,
in itself, be prejudicial to Imperial interests.

Now, of course, it is entirely true that the main-
tenance of London as a financial centre is very
important, but I venture to think that those who
are most jealous concerning the prestige of London
and the importance of its financial operations would
say that it ranks only second to the industrial
efficiency of the country as a whole and cannot, in
fact, be long maintained unless there is that indus-
trial efficiency behind it, providing a surplus out of
which London may be able to finance the world and
so, incidentally, and as a side issue, be to a great
extent helped by foreign capital to do so. It is
surely evident that a financial supremacy which was
based merely on a jobbing business, gathering in
capital from one nation and lending it to another,
would be an extremely precarious and artificial
structure, the continuance of which could not be
relied on for many decades. Finance can only
flourish healthily and wholesomely in a country