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Papers of Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton

  • HOUG
  • Fondo
  • 1779-1951

Houghton's archive includes: Cambridge papers, 1827-1830; a voluminous correspondence; literary papers; publications, 1834-1873; political papers, 1837-1880s; business papers; papers relating to travels, 1828-1885, papers relating to clubs and societies; commonplace books, 1838-1865; press cuttings, 1801-1878; diaries of Lady Houghton, 1855-72; papers of Houghton’ father R. P. Milnes; other family papers.

Milnes, Richard Monckton (1809-1885), 1st Baron Houghton, author and politician

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.

Letter from Sir Francis Low to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

‘The Times of India’, 4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1.—Responsibility for the partition of India does not lie with the British Government, as implied by Sir Henry Craik at yesterday’s meeting of the East India Association, but with Jinnah.

—————

Transcript

The Times of India, London Branch:
4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1

9th Oct. 1953

The Rt. Hon. Lord Pethick-Lawrence,
11, Old Square,
Lincoln’s Inn,
London. W.C.2.

Dear Lord Pethick-Lawrence,

Had Sir Henry Craik not been moving the vote of thanks at yesterday’s meeting I would have liked to comment on one of his remarks. He said that the Partition of India ruined the life-work of people like himself who had been connected with the Punjab, of which he was at one time Governor. He inferred that the British Government were in some way responsible for this, either by agreeing to the Partition of India or by leaving India too soon. But, as I know well, the Partition of the Punjab was due not to the British Government but to Mr. Jinnah. Nobody believed more in the unity of the Punjab than its former Prime Minister, Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan, who I daresay you know. When Sikandar used to come to Bombay to attend meetings of the Council of the Muslim League he used to tell me—with the object of enlisting my willing help—that he would make a determined stand against Jinnah’s “nonsense” of splitting the Punjab. But he never did. Nobody could stand up to Jinnah, and I gather that at each meeting he completely dominated Sikandar and others of like mind and made mincemeat of their arguments. The breaking up of the unity of the Punjab, which made it so great a province, was a great tragedy, but the real author of that tragedy was, as I have said, not the British Government, but Jinnah. And Jinnah was embittered beyond all hope of conciliation by the Congress refusal to form coalition governments in the provinces in 1937 by taking in the provincial cabinets a representative or representatives of the Muslim League. I shall never forget the bitterness with which he said to me after that decision: “This is the finish. Since we cannot obtain justice in India we must form our own state”.

In closing may I congratulate you on the clear way in which you put the British Government’s case.

Yours sincerely,
Francis Low
(Sir Francis Low)

Letter from Sir Frank Brown to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

East India Association, Westminster Chambers, 3 Victoria Street, London, S.W.1.—Accepts Pethick-Lawrence’s offer to address the Association on constitutional de-velopments in India in the post-war period (see 1/242).

Letter from Sir Frank Brown to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

East India Association, Westminster Chambers, 3 Victoria Street, London, S.W.1.—Invites him and Lady Pethick-Lawrence to a party to express best wishes to Sir Frederick and Lady Burrows and Sir Archibald and Lady Nye on their departure for India.

Letter from Constance D. Leslie to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

British Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcasting House, London, W.1.—His request will be considered, but it is unlikely that a Week’s Good Cause appeal could be recommended for the development fund (of the East and West Friendship Council).

(Signed as Secretary, Central Appeals Advisory Committee.)

Letter from Maurice Cole to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

East and West Friendship Council, 101 Gower Street, London, W.C.1.—Expresses sympathy on the Council’s behalf (on the death of Lady Pethick-Lawrence). Agatha Harrison has commended Pethick-Lawrence’s tribute.

Letter from Maurice Cole to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

East and West Friendship Council, ‘as from’ Annandale, Northend Road, London, N.W.11.—Explains what Pethick-Lawrence’s responsibilities would be, should he agree to become the Council’s President.

(Signed as Secretary.)

Extracts from letters from Rajkumari Amrit Kaur to Carl Heath and Agatha Harrison

(To Carl Heath:) Gandhi is distressed by the proposed division of India, but is determined to make the operation as free from bitterness as possible.

(To Agatha Harrison:) Gandhi has not been able to persuade Jinnah to discuss the question of frontiers with the Congress Ministry, in order to avoid a referendum. He may go to Kashmir. ‘Otherwise Bihar and Noakhali hold his heart and mind.’

(Carbon copy of typed extracts.)

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