PRELUDE TO PEACE
By the time the Select Committee on National Expenditure published its report on wartime price-fixing in November 1943 the time had gone by when such a report could affect the course of the war. So, indeed, the committee seems to have recognised. 'The need for evolving the best possible technique' for fixing prices 'will not necessarily cease when the war ends', they argued in their report.1 A growing amount of attention was being focused by this time on the reconversion of the economy from war to peace. For just as more was done to prepare for the war before 1939 than before 1914, so more was also done to prepare for peace on the second occasion. The Ministry of Supply had already asked the Steel Federation five months before the report was published a long series of questions to elicit its views on post-war problems. Arrangements had been made for the trade unions directly concerned to be consulted too. The Ministry was preparing to make its own examination of the industry's future. And outside the official world, the Labour Party and Trades Union Congress also began (or should one say began again?) in 1943 to make plans for the industry in peace.
When the Select Committee reported, the ball was in the steelmakers' court, where it had been sent by the Ministry. This chapter starts therefore with the evolution of their proposals. This is followed in the second section by the departmental reactions; and this in turn in the third section by the story of the hardening of Socialist views.____________________