By John Swift
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Additional resources for Labour in Crisis: Clement Attlee and the Labour Party in Opposition, 1931–40
62 In fact tariffs without a reconstruction policy were presented as detrimental to the economy, as they simply hampered trade. 63 Further, during a broadcast on tariffs, Attlee claimed that the general result of these measures has been to put some people into work and others out of work. The tomato growers extend their operations while miners are thrown out of work in South Wales. Tariffs, in fact, shift trade but do not increase it . . [The Government’s tariff advisers] are not concerned with the repercussions of the tariff .
A real national plan would be enormously complicated, and have to take a massive breadth of factors into account. Hence Attlee’s concern with the machinery of government, especially Cabinet, which would have to be rebuilt to cope with the task of planning. Naturally, Attlee was not the only Labour policy-maker to grapple with these problems. Dalton acknowledged, when discussing his proposed National Planning Board, that the ‘composition and duties of this body, and its relations to other bodies – political industrial and financial – need careful study .
It was only agreed that the Cabinet should be smaller, and be divided into three committees, for Internal Economic Affairs, External Affairs, and Social Services. Clearly, despite the progress made, consensus was difficult to find. Furthermore, while Attlee was making interesting and Attlee and the Depression, 1931–5 23 constructive suggestions, his influence within the Movement was still limited. Planning Perhaps the most significant aspect of the debate on Cabinet reform was its relationship with economic planning – another extremely important aspect of Labour’s developing policies.