The Next Ten Years in British Social and Economic Policy

By G. D. H. Cole | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII SOCIALISATION

Socialism and nationalisation—The need for diverse forms of social control— What is the 'capitalist system'?—Socialism not a rigid scheme—How far do Socialists wish to 'nationalise' industry?—Nationalisation, old and new—Control of economic policy the vital matter—Parliament cannot administer industry—Nor is Civil Service control workable—Industrial administration an expert affair—Need for a system of responsible expert commissioners—Who must be responsible to Parliament—But the problem cannot be tackled industry by industry—The case of coal considered— What is the mining industry?—Desirability of maintaining existing business units in many cases—Public ownership of minerals—Public capital for mining reorganisation—Form and conditions of State control—A Mining Commission—The marketing of coal—Is this plan socialisation? —Ownership and control—The future of the coal mines under socialisation—The problem of wages, hours, and employment—The Eight Hours Act—Need for European agreement on miners' hours—Should the mines be subsidised?—The cotton industry—Need for a wide measure of socialisation, to be carried through with an economy of parliamentary time— Should the railways be nationalised?—Railways and road transport— Methods of railway socialisation—Advantages of socialisation without direct purchase—Need for a co-ordinating Power and Transport Commission—Which would be parallel to the Board of National Investment —The cotton industry again considered—The policy of administrative socialisation summarised—The problem of parliamentary control—The ordinary man's interest in economic affairs—The sphere of expert control —Measurement and publicity as the consumer's safeguards—Need for a reform of Parliament—Long and short views—Socialism must be at once opportunist and constructive.

In the minds of many, among both critics and advocates, the policy of Socialism is almost summed up in the one word nationalisation. The Socialist sets out to nationalise 'the means of production, distribution, and exchange'; the anti-Socialist puts his faith in 'private enterprise'. In one sense this summing up is quite correct; but in another it is highly misleading. For what the Socialist does essentially set out to nationalise, or per-

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