Parliament and Public Ownership

Parliament and Public Ownership

Parliament and Public Ownership

Parliament and Public Ownership

Excerpt

The subject of this essay is more limited than the title might perhaps suggest. It is not concerned at all with the views of parliamentarians and political parties on the extent of nationalization; nor does it discuss the many proposals that have been made for improving the internal organization of the nationalized industries. It is solely concerned with what is sometimes rather inappropriately called parliamentary 'control' over the nationalized industries that have been actually established and given the shape of public corporations. It attempts to study this by describing and analysing the evolution of the enterprise-minister-parliament relationship during the course of the last thirty-five years.

To keep the subject within manageable proportions, the term 'nationalized industry' has been given a restrictive interpretation. Bodies such as the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Colonial Development Corporation, which are not industries in the ordinary sense of the word, have been excluded. Among the modern nationalized industries, attention is concentrated on the National Coal Board, the British Transport Commission, the Electricity Boards, the Gas Boards, and the Civil Airways Corporations.

While every effort has been made to present the facts fully and fairly, so that the reader may draw his own conclusions from them, it would be too much to hope that the views which the author has developed during the course of this investigation have never led him away from the path of strict impartiality. For the very 'presentation' of factual material implies an hypothesis about its significance, and hypotheses are always liable to take charge of their begetters. All the author can say is that he has been constantly aware of this danger and that he makes no claim that his conclusions, concentrated in the last chapter, are either self-evident or irrefutable. On the contrary, he hopes that they will provoke lively discussion.

LEEDS 1960 A.H.H.

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