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Public and Private Ownership of British Industry 1820–1990$
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James Foreman-Peck and Robert Millward

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203599

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203599.001.0001

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International Comparisons of Performance in National Networks in the Inter-War Period

International Comparisons of Performance in National Networks in the Inter-War Period

Chapter:
(p.240) 7 International Comparisons of Performance in National Networks in the Inter-War Period
Source:
Public and Private Ownership of British Industry 1820–1990
Author(s):

James Foreman-Peck

Robert Millward

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203599.003.0007

During the inter-war years Britain resisted the Continental trend towards state ownership. Instead it founded public-interest monopoly corporations or left industry in the hands of private owners and managers. The nationalisation of railways and coal in the aftermath of World War I was considered and rejected as irrelevant. The 1919 Electricity Act was a first attempt to rationalise electricity generation but the Electricity Commissioners were given inadequate powers. The standards also cast light on continuing concerns such as the efficiency advantages of monopoly or competition in ‘natural monopoly’ industries and the costs and benefits of private versus state ownership of industry. They point to the role of incentives, technology, and inherited institutions as more fundamental determinants of economic performance than ownership and competition.

Keywords:   Britain, state ownership, monopoly corporations, nationalisation, 1919 Electricity Act, electricity generation, natural monopoly, incentives, competition

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