OCR - Period Study: Economic Issues 1918-39 (COMPLETE)

Complete and detailed notes for Economic Issues topic of Period Study - Britain c. 1918-51

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Britain 1900-51 (OCR)
Period Study- Britain c.1918-51
Economic issues 1918-39
1. Effect of WW1 on economic conditions
2. Problems of the staple industries
3. Problems in the mining industry
4. Causes and failure of 1921 General Strike
5. 1926 General Strike
6. Effect of the Great Depression
7. Causes of unemployment in 1930s
8. How wide spread was unemployment
9. Economic measures of the National gov
10. Successes and limitations of policies
11. Social policies 1931-9
12. Economic recovery 1931 ­ cause, nature, extent
Effect of WW1 on economic conditions
Was a total war so required considerable economic effort
To go back to a peacetime economy cost a lot of money
Taxation was fairly limited with high of 25p in a pound, not as high as other European
countries War was financed borrowing and more money was printed. This those
prices by 2 1/4 time between 1914 and 1918
Effected British trading system, don't have the money to invest in the merchant navy
and reduced export and re export trades -£525 million and reexports £110 million in
1913, £501 and £31 million in 1918
Markets lost by British companies, to Japan and India provide a cheaper alternative
Britain lost invisible exports from services to trade and sold off as private investment
High level of financial support offered to foreign and dominion allies with £200 million
financed by loans in the USA and Canada and raising short term loans at home via
government borrowing
Had to require a bigger labour force and also supplying men to the forces. Over 5
million served in the armed forces they were replaced by older men delaying
retirement, women and younger workers Industrial workforce fell by 5% skilled
craftsmen were able to negotiate higher wages.
Share of wages in national income rose during the war
Demands for war supply was huge
Total output of shells had been half a million in 1914 one and a half million was used
in the battle of the Somme Britain needs the products of heavy industry
The country saw full employment with the diversification of labour, more production,
higher wages, some improvement in working conditions and some move to rational
economic controls - control of railways and more generation of electricity
Suspended the golden standard
Coal mines continue to be subsidized

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Problems affecting the staple industries 1918-39
Staples suffered as other countries took a bigger share in world manufacturing output.
1. Foreign competition
o Germany particularly with its improvement in technology of chemicals and
steel with manufactures protected by tariffs
o Growth of economy in USA after civil war mechanization allowed them to
create cheaper food protected by tariffs and providing competition for
British farmers
o Japan emerged as a rival in the Middle East
o Italy and Russia grew rapidly in 1880s
2.…read more

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In 1921 gov did not want to continue subsidising the mines when exports were falling
o Mines were given back to their owners
o Market forces came into play, declining coal sales meant falling profits so the mine
owners wanted to cut wages
o Miners protested and threatened a general strike in 12th April 1921
o Negotiation failed and strike was rescheduled for 15th April
o Other unions now faced falling demand and unemployment and appeals from the gov
to compromise
o Secretary of National…read more

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Timeline of the strike
Chronology of events - the basics
Tuesday 4 May 1926: A general strike is called by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to
support the miners in their quarrel with the mine owners, who want to reduce their wages by
13 per cent and increase their shifts from seven to eight hours. Huge numbers of road
transport, bus, rail, docks, printing, gas and electricity, building, iron, steel, chemicals and
coal workers stay off work.…read more

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Gov presented strike as a challenge to the constitution, TUC presented as subverting
normal political life
TUC lacked support from the Liberals and Labour
Due to the Zinoviev letter middle classes were determined not to give into the
demands of the workers
Consequences of 1926 strike
The miners were defeated
Miners go back to work with less pay and more hours- strike didn't work.…read more

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Ministry of health said the health of people in areas of unemployment was not any
worse than other areas
Gov did not abandon the unemployed or force them into workhouses
1934 unemployment act reorganised payment, but the new scales were delayed
There was training centres for retraining opened by gov, clubs established by
Very high levels of early 1930s had fallen by 1937 roughly to 1920s levels
Rearmament began to create new jobs
60% unemployment in 6 counties ­ Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Durham,
Staffordshire,…read more

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Import duties act 1932
o 10% duty on all good expect raw material and food
o 30% duty on steel
o Creation of sterling area which agreed exchange rates with certain
o More trade with empire
o Not all industries were protected, badly affected by foreign competition
o Tariffs made little impact, constricted world trade
o Free trade with dominion not secured
Direct help to depressed areas
1.…read more

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Social policies 1931-9
1. Education & the young
o Act raised the education leaving age to 15 in September 1939
o Class sizes fell though there were still 2000 classes with over 50 children
o More higher entrants from state elementary schools
o Young offenders housed in approved schools
2. Transport
o 30 mph speed limit in urban areas
o Coordinated road signs
o Pedestrian crossings like "Belisha beacons"
3.…read more


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