Financial Policy, 1939-45

Financial Policy, 1939-45

Financial Policy, 1939-45

Financial Policy, 1939-45

Excerpt

This book is based largely on official papers, but it has been written from a viewpoint entirely outside the Civil Service. Although I was a temporary civil servant during the war and accepted permanent employment thereafter, my official contact with problems discussed in the book was only of the slightest and most marginal kind; in fact, owing to the pressure of other problems I knew scarcely more of what was going on in this field than any other taxpayer was able to gather from the Press. The invitation to write the book did not come until two or three years after my resignation, when my approach to the material could be strictly academic and was in fact that of an almost complete stranger.

I have enjoyed absolutely unlimited access to Treasury papers. The understanding from the beginning has been that I should see everything I asked to see. I have appreciated this freedom, but it has involved one disadvantage: that I have had to know what to ask for. This meant a slow start, for the Treasury filing system was not arranged for the benefit of historians, and during the war many important documents escaped the files and many important words were spoken without being written down. Nevertheless, having tracked certain events and problems from outside sources, and talked to a number of helpful officials, I have eventually been able--with splendid help from the Treasury Registry--to follow the handling of those problems which have seemed to me proper for inclusion in the book. I found very substantial guidance in a detailed chronicle, covering a large part of the field, prepared by Sir Ralph Hawtrey during and immediately after the war.

Having chosen the formation of policy as my subject, I could properly depend mainly upon the official papers--supplemented by the memories of surviving officials--though, as will be seen, I have also kept an eye on outside printed material. Concentration on the formation of policy has one important implication which I hope will be noticed particularly by readers outside this country: it bears especially on my account of financial relations with Allied countries, both inside and outside the Commonwealth. My concern being to show how policy was formed in London, I have deliberately viewed developments in other countries as they were understood in Whitehall at the time. In so far as I have also tried to assess British policy, I have of necessity asked myself continually whether London's contemporary interpretation was fair; but in reading my exposition of the formation of policy the reader is asked to . . .

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