Public and private interests in the formulation of government policy : the case of the Import Duties Advisory Committee (IDAC) in 1930s Britain
The thesis examines the interplay of business, politics and the economy during the 1930s. Relationships are studied through the analysis of the tariff introduced in 1932 by the British government. The introduction of the tariff in 1932 was important because this marked a clear break in government policy toward international trade, Britain having had a long tradition of free trade. The work is not concerned with the macroeconomic effects of the tariff and its overall impact on the economy. The focus instead is upon policy formulation and business involvement in this process. Government knew the tariff could be used as more than a revenue earner, importantly the tariff also provided them with the opportunity to negotiate with industry, enabling intervention and promotion of industrial policy aims. On the other side, business wanted a given level of protection and would lobby to achieve their aims: while at the same time they were unwilling to undergo change. The thesis provides the first detailed analysis of the work of the Import Duties Advisory Committee [IDAC] and their attempt to develop a 'scientific' tariff from its inception in 1932. A two-pronged approach is taken to the work considering the process from the point of view of the government and business. The first perspective, that of government, considers what the government wanted from the tariff and the extent to which these objectives were met. The second perspective analyses what business wanted and how successful business was in 'capturing' benefits. An overview of how the committee arrived at its decision for all additional duty applications made between 1932 and 1939 is offered in the thesis. This brings to light the factors at play in convincing the Committee that extra protection was justified. Additionally, the work provides an in-depth analysis of selective industry cases.