Page:The Bank of England and the State, 1905.djvu/46

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Foreign Trade and the Money Market.

enquiry, appears to me as if a great question of law, involving the very highest considerations, were to be decided, not by the Lord Chancellor, but at the polling booths; yet the consequences of a mistaken judgment must be. far-reaching indeed. We have had, and we have, Royal Commissions on a number of different subjects—I believe there are over a dozen of them now sitting—and amongst them several, such as that on the Food Supply in time of War and on the Coal Supply, which are very closely connected with the Fiscal Problem; and yet there has been no Royal Commission on this, the gravest and most complicated of them all. It has been said that no men of unbiassed minds and who have not already formed their opinions could be found to serve on such a Commission; I do not believe it. There are many who will be only too glad to have all the evidence placed before them, and to judge accordingly. No one, however strong his convictions may be, could possibly object to have his case thoroughly examined in all its bearings; in fact, the stronger your convictions are, the readier you must be to submit your case to an impartial tribunal of experts: and not only has there been no Royal Commission, the subject has not even been debated in Parliament, and yet an appeal to the country is looked upon as imminent in many quarters. Though the question may be primarily regarded as a matter of business, it involves, of course, even higher considerations. The unity of the empire is, we are told, dependent on it; but if that unity is to be brought, about and based on business considerations, the question must be dealt with on business lines and in such a way as to produce, not conflict, but harmony. I venture to say that the Imperial sentiment is nowhere stronger than it is in the City of London, and that nowhere is the business community more ready to make sacrifices in order to promote the unity of the Empire; but it is strange that, as far as I have seen, in all the arguments that have been used on both sides, the interests of this great City of London have hardly been touched upon; yet it can rightly claim that the services it renders to the nation, both as regards its contribution to the general prosperity and the employment it finds for millions of