By Robert Bacon, W.A. Eltis
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Extra resources for Britain’s Economic Problem: Too Few Producers
Mr Wilson's speeches had suggested that his government would do more than previous administrations to see that the technological opportunities opened up by modem science would be fully The Lost Opportunities 47 exploited and redound to the advantage of the British people. A new planning ministry, the Department of Economic Affairs, was set up to ensure that the economic policies pursued would serve the country's long-term interests, and Mr George Brown, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, was appointed its first Minister.
A profit-making nationalised industry is in the public sector but its entire output is marketed. Council houses, if they are let at rents which cover all costs, also provide much-desired marketed output. It is only in so far as nationalised industries make losses and houses are let at rents which fail to cover costs that they are part of the non-market sector which has to draw on the market sector for its consumption and investment requirements. In reality much of nationalised industry makes a loss, and council house rents cover only a fraction of costs, so perhaps half the amount spent on them is non-market expenditure.
Other components of imports, particularly basic materials, increased too, with the result that total imports were £643 million higher in 1964 than in 1963. Exports only rose £200 million, so the trade gap widened by about £450 million. Britain's overall current account deficit in 1964 was about £400 million but the gold and foreign exchange reserves were only £949 million in 1963, so a deficit of this order of magnitude appeared to matter, puny though it was by 1976 standards. If Mr Maudling had remained Chancellor he would have attempted to ignore the deficit and continue to expand, albeit at slower rates.