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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

XIX

TIGHTENING  THE  FETTERS   OF  FINANCE
March, 1919

The New Meaning of Licence—The Question of Capital Issues—•
Text of the Treasury Regulations—Their Scope and Effect
—The Position of the Stock Exchange—Wider Issues at
Stake—Should Capital be set Free ?—The Arguments for
and against—Perils of an Excessive Caution—The New
Committee and its Terms of Reference—The Absurdity of
prohibiting Share-splitting—The Storm in the House of
Commons—Disappearance of the Retrospective Clause—A
Sample of Bureaucratic Stupidity.

A CONTRAST between liberty and licence is a pleasant
alliterative commonplace beloved by political writers,
especially those with a reactionary bias. In the
light of recent events it seems to be going to take a
new meaning. Licence will soon be understood,
not as the abuse of liberty, to which democracies
are prone, but as a new weapon by which our
bureaucracy will do away with liberty by tightening
the shackles on our economic and other activities.
For imports and exports the licence system is already
familiar ; if the mines and railways are to be nation-
alised we may have to be licensed before we can
burn coal or go away for a week-end; if the Eugenists
have their way a licence will be necessary before we
can propagate the species; and before we can get
a licence to do anything we shall have to go through

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