Debating Banking in Britain: The Colwyn Committee, 1918

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By 1918 the British banking system had reached a degree of maturity and concentration, with a small number of large banks dominating the sector. Political concerns about the rise of financial power led to the appointment of the Colwyn Committee to investigate the amalgamations process, and consider the issue of concentration with reference to the role of banking in the economy. In this article we explore this critical inflection point in British banking history and argue that the Committee’s proceedings reveal that many current concerns about banking correspond to those of a century ago. We also argue that–­contrary to some historical interpretation–the Committee did not ­unequivocally favour financial interests, but rather sought to stabilise organisational change in the sector, and introduce new restrictions on the freedom of banks in respect of amalgamation, as well as supervision and regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1593374
Number of pages22
JournalBusiness History
Early online date8 Apr 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2019

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  • banking amalgamations
  • Banking regulation
  • British banking
  • Financial development
  • Banking amalgamations
  • financial development
  • banking regulation

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