Labour Governments and Private Industry: The Experience of 1945-1951

By H. Mercer; N. Rollings et al. | Go to book overview

commitment to prohibit anti-social restrictive practices. The FBI saw the working parties and the Act as a threat to current industrial organisation. 105 Thus, according to one Labour Party researcher, the desire to ensure the participation of private enterprise in the Development Councils had 'focused attention on less drastic methods of dealing with monopolistic practices'. 106 In the end the Development Councils failed also, so the whole strategy lay in ruins, with neither effective powers for industrial organisation and development nor for the control of monopolies and cartels.

Thus policy on restrictive practices was one element of a general failure of policy for private industry. Restrictive practices were part of a matrix of problems which were inherent also in controls and Development Councils and the whole question of industrial organisation. In all of these the role of trade associations was a central question to be tackled, at the same time as they became a major political obstacle.


CONCLUSIONS

The aim of this chapter has been, not to criticise Labour for lack of policy, nor to prescribe what should have happened, but to explain, given the consciousness of a problem, why certain policy measures were taken and others not taken. What determined the nature of the 1948 Act which followed the path of persuasion, eschewing any prohibitions and allowing industrialists so much opportunity to defend their practices?

The Labour governments were ill-prepared ideologically to sustain a policy on efficiency and modernisation in private industry and were divided on the benefits of the market as against planning and public ownership. Consolidationism set the seal on co-operation as the dominant mode of government's relations with private industry. It was an outlook which completely accorded with the views of the civil service and the policy of 'industrial diplomacy' developed in the 1930s. 107 The consequence was that policy formation really passed to other bodies, and thus British policy on restrictive practices was determined more by the interplay of two non-governmental groups -- the FBI and the United States of America.


NOTES

I would like to thank Mike Collins, Neil Rollings and Jim Tomlinson for their suggestions and comments on earlier drafts of this article.

1.
W. T. Morgan "'Britain's Election: a debate on nationalisation and cartels'" Political Science Quarterly Vol. 61 No. 2 June 1946.
2.
Financial News 21/7/1945.
3.
M. Hall "'Monopoly Policy'" in G. D. N. Worswick and P. Ady eds. The British Economy 1945-1950 ( Oxford, 1952) p. 399.
4.
"'Let Us Face the Future'" in F. W. S. Craig British Election 1900-1974 Manifestos ( 2nd edn, 1975) pp. 126-8.

-69-

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Labour Governments and Private Industry: The Experience of 1945-1951
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Notes on the Contributors vi
  • Preface vii
  • One: Introduction 1
  • Part One the Policies 13
  • Appendix 2.2 Edited Version of Gen343/4 'Revised Draft of the Bill', 6 February 1951 32
  • Notes 33
  • Three: Productivity Policy 37
  • Four Anti-Monopoly Policy 55
  • Conclusions 69
  • Notes 70
  • Five: Private Industrial Investment 74
  • Six Whatever Happened to the British Warfare State? the Ministry of Supply, 1945-1951 91
  • Notes 113
  • Seven: Taxation Policy 117
  • Part Two the Sectors 135
  • Eight the Cotton Industry: A Middle Way Between Nationalisation and Self-Government? 137
  • Notes 160
  • Nine: The Motor Car Industry 162
  • Ten the Shipbuilding Industry1 186
  • Appendix 10.1 204
  • Appendix 10.1 208
  • Eleven: The Film Industry 212
  • Index 237
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