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Circular notice issued by Lord Lucan for the Parliamentary Labour Party

House of Commons.—Timetable of public business for the week ending 29 Oct. 1960, with other notices.

(Signed as Chief Whip. Mechanical copy of a typed original. Two items have been marked, one about the introduction of Viscount Amory to the House of Lords, the other about a cocktail party to welcome Lord and Lady Listowel.)

Letter from Oliver Lyttelton to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Ministry of Production.—Responds to Pethick-Lawrence’s comments in the House of Commons on his own remarks at Farnborough. While it is true that during the war rich people were not adding to the savings of the community, his own interest was rather in the contribution they make to industrial development by financing more speculative forms of enterprise.

Letter from G. D. H. Cole to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

University College, Oxford.—Hopes that Pethick-Lawrence will be able to join the party going to Russia (see 1/164). The aim is to learn more about the problems of introducing a socialist system, with emphasis on public and industrial finance.

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Transcript

University College, Oxford
16/1/32

Dear Pethick Lawrence,

I was very pleased to get your note, and I very much hope you will be able to go with the party to Russia. I am afraid that, for reasons of health, I shall not be able to go myself {1}; but there will be Leslie, Dalton, probably Cuttall {2}, C. M. Lloyd, Leonard Woolf, Susan Lawrence, H. L. Beales, possibly Somerville Hastings, and one or two others, in addition to Harben. The aim is to make a thorough study, over two months or more, with particular relation to the light thrown on the problems of introducing a Socialist system, and with emphasis on public and industrial finance. Starting late June or early July, and splitting up for investigations. I am in touch with the Soviet Embassy & Moscow now about facilities.

I am away in Oxford for the next week; but C. M. Lloyd or Leslie could tell you all about it, or I could, when I get back. You have, however, most of the information, except that, as soon as we get the group together, and can see our way with Moscow and with enough money to ensure the visit, we want to take on a Russian-speaking secretary and start seriously on preliminary work. But for that we are still trying to raise funds here and get Moscow’s agreement to the visit.

Yours sincerely
G. D. H. Cole

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{1} Cole had recently been found to be suffering from diabetes.

{2} Reading uncertain.

Letter from G. D. H. Cole to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

‘As from’ 7 Parsifal Road, London, N.W.6.—Sends, for the consideration of the Policy Sub-Committee, a paper recommending that a Labour Government should immediately nationalise the joint-stock banks (see 1/161).

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Transcript

As from 7 Parsifal Road, | London, N.W.6.
1/6/32.

Dear Pethick Lawrence,

Dalton suggested to me that I should see you in order to put before you, with an eye to the L. P. Policy Committee, my view about the Joint Stock Banks; but, as I shall be out of London till next Wednesday, it seems I had better write. I have tried to put down, on a couple of sheets, my reasons for thinking that the new Labour policy, if it is to be effective, must include provision for the immediate taking over of the joint stock banks as well as the Bank of England. I gather privately from Dalton that the Policy Sub-Committee is at present inclined not to take this view. If that is so, I should very much like a chance of backing my own opinion before it if that is possible. I feel so strongly that this is the key question, and that it cannot be bucked at the present stage. For, if I am right in thinking we shall have to tackle the joint stock banks at the start, I think it follows we ought to make our intentions clear at once. It will take us a long time to get our own people to the point of intelligent propaganda on this issue; and it will also take time to combat the fears which the policy will arouse in the minds of certain large sections of the electorate. We want the longest possible time before an election for intelligent putting of our case before the public.

I shall be back in town next Wednesday. Till Monday, my address is Bradfields, Topperfield, Great Yeldham, Essex. Sorry to bother you; but it’s all in the hope of getting the best possible policy for Leicester.

Yours sincerely
G. D. H. Cole

Paper entitled ‘Reasons for the immediate Socialisation of the Joint Stock Banks’ [by G. D. H. Cole]

(Typed. The first sheet is a carbon copy.)

Transcript

Reasons for the immediate Socialisation of the Joint Stock Banks.

I am writing on the assumption that the Labour Party has come back to office with a clear majority and that it intends in the first sessions of Parliament to lay the foundations of a general economic plan of reconstruction and development. If this is so, it appears to me that the immediate Socialisation of the Joint Stock Banks as well as of the Bank of England is bound to be required. I know it is often argued that a Government which had assumed the ownership of the Bank of England could by this means and by the use of emergency decrees exert effective control over the Joint Stock Banks and the City Houses, and compel them to do what it wanted. But for several reasons I do not believe this to be the case.

In the first place I very much doubt the effectiveness of ‘open market operations’ in causing an expansion in industry or in the actual use of credit in face of any hostility to this policy on the part of the Joint Stock Banks. It is true that the Bank of England can by buying securities increase the cash resources of the Joint Stock Banks and so enable them to lend more if they are willing to do so. But it cannot compel them to lend more; and it would be well within the power of the Joint Stock Banks to immobilise the funds so created for a long enough time to defeat the Socialist plan for the stimulation of industry. This would of course involve the Joint Stock Banks in some forgoing of profits through their failure to use the cash resources at their disposal; but this loss would not be too large for them to incur without danger if they saw the prospect by means of it of bringing the Government down. Nor do I think that emergency measures of control could compel the Joint Stock Banks to expand their loans against their will. Control without ownership can be used to prevent people from doing things; but it is very difficult to use it positively to make them do things which they do not want to do.

I know it is suggested that, as far as the financing of the Government’s own schemes is concerned, a refusal by the Joint Stock Banks to advance the necessary funds might be met by a resort to other forms of borrowing, e.g. in the bill market. But this argument seems to be based on a misapprehension. For the funds which are available in the bill market, with the exception of balances belonging to foreign banks in London, come for the most part from the Joint Stock Banks, which lend them to the bill market for relending. It can hardly be supposed that, if the Joint Stock Banks were endeavouring to bring the Government down by a refusal to provide credits directly, they would be prepared to place the necessary sums at the disposal of the bill market for relending, and so to provide indirectly the very resources which they were withholding in a direct sense.

Moreover, if the Government is pursuing a definite economic plan, involving a controlled and equilibrised development of different industries, it is indispensable that it should be in a position to control, not only the total volume of credit available for lending, but also its distribution among the various industries and business firms demanding it. It is, however, quite impossible for a centralised and branchless institution such as the Bank of England to exert this control, or for an organisation to be improved side by side with the Joint Stock Banks for undertaking it. The Joint Stock Banks are the natural agencies for this rationing of credit, and I can see no chance of any National Economic Plan working out successfully unless they are acting in full harmony with it.

Finally, in my view there has been a tendency greatly to exaggerate the stimulative, as distinct from the restrictive, powers which can be exerted by the Central Bank in face of any hostility on the part of the Joint Stock Banks. It is of course essential to take over the Central Bank; but this measure will be ineffective unless it is accompanied by complete socialisation of the Joint Stock Banks as well. Given these two things, I agree that the remaining institutions of the City of London—acceptance, discount and issue houses—can be either controlled or superseded by new State-created institutions without immediate socialisation. But this is only on the assumption that the Joint Stock Banks, as well as the Bank of England, have first been completely acquired.

One last word. Whatever may be the ultimately desirable constitution for a socialised Bank of England, I hope it is clear that during the earlier stages of transition the Bank must be brought directly under the control of the Government and its organs for economic planning, and not entrusted to any representative body of a non-political character, which would not be directly amenable to Government control. In the early stages at any rate the control will have to be political if the Plan is to be worked as a coordinated Government measure.

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