The development and implementation of postwar housing policy under the Labour government
This thesis examines the manner in which a policy objective is qualified in execution by the requirements of interministerial collaboration in Cabinet, and the pressures of individual departmental interest. Housing policy in England and Wales from 1945 to 1951 serves as the central focus of the study. Wherever possible, the events surrounding the policy are presented and considered in chronological order. In the first section, the allocation of responsibility for housing and the development of the policy are considered. The thesis then examines some specific problems encountered during the implementation of the policy. Next, it provides an account of the factors which lead to the adoption of cuts in the housing programme and the imposition of greater central control. Finally, the thesis examines the means employed by the Ministry of Health to re-establish its autonomy and restore the housing programme to its previous level. The thesis concludes that the postwar housing policy was adversely effected by both the design of the policy and the means of implementation. There were several erroneous assumptions and unresolved issues in the policy designed by the Coalition Government. The effects of these were exacerbated by the action or inaction of Labour. The inability of the Labour Government to coordinate the activities of departments during the implementation of the housing and reconstruction policies resulted in an overloaded building industry. There was a requirement for housing starts and other construction activity to be related to the availability of the factors of production. This, in turn, implied a decrease of departmental autonomy to allow for the necessary central coordination. For a number of reasons, the Labour Government did not introduce the measures necessary to ensure that this coordination took place until late in 1947. Even at this juncture, with the economy and the housing programme in a critical state, the limitations of central control were evident. The study is based on material contained in the government documents of the period. This was supplemented by interviews with government officials and the biographies of the major participants in the Labour Government.