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"A self-contained British Empire in metals": metals stockpiling, imperial defence and business-government relations, 1914 – 1958

Perchard, Andrew (2012) "A self-contained British Empire in metals": metals stockpiling, imperial defence and business-government relations, 1914 – 1958. In: 16th Annual Conference of the European Business History Association/ 1st Joint Conference with the Business History Society of Japan, 2012-08-31.

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Abstract

Reflecting on his career as managing director of the British Metal Corporation, the former Secretary of State for the Colonies and Conservative peer, Lord Chandos, remarked on the attempts by prominent industry figures in metals to create ‘a self-contained British Empire in metals' (Chandos, 1962: 125). This paper will explore negotiations over the supply and stockpiling of metals of strategic importance, in particular focusing on those over non-ferrous metals (which proved so vital to military requirements and economic warfare). It will examine the tensions underlying negotiations between the metropolitan British and dominion governments, as well as between business and the state. In so doing, it charts the relationships between leading businessmen and government ministers (especially in London and Ottawa), and the shifting politics of empire. This forms part of a wider discussion about how firms trading in strategic raw materials were affected by their relationships with government, and, more broadly, national economic models.