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The Treasury and British Public Policy, 1906–1959$
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G. C. Peden

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198207078

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207078.001.0001

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(p.516) Chapter Ten Conclusion
The Treasury and British Public Policy, 1906–1959

G. C. Peden

Oxford University Press

At all times the Treasury sought to maintain rules of public finance that would restrict the propensity of ministers to spend money, and focus their minds on the need to make choices. Keynesian macroeconomics was absorbed into official thinking in the 1940s and 1950s, but in ways that reflected the Treasury's traditional concerns about sound finance and control of public expenditure. Officials could use macroeconomic analysis to show that public expenditure commitments were too high in relation to prospective resources. Much had changed in the Treasury during the transition from Gladstonian to Keynesian public finance, but there were continuities — for example, a preference for private enterprise rather than public expenditure, and for an open rather than a closed economy. The gold standard had gone, but its place had been taken by the discipline of a fixed exchange rate that could be adjusted only in exceptional circumstances.

Keywords:   Treasury, public finance, macroeconomics, private enterprise, gold standard, exchange rate, income tax

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