War Cabinet: Reconstruction Secretariat: Correspondence and Papers

CAB 117
War Cabinet: Reconstruction Secretariat: Correspondence and Papers

This series comprises files containing papers of the ministerial committees dealing with various aspects of post-war reconstruction, including the Committee on Reconstruction Problems, numerous other sub-committees, and also the committees of officials representing government departments which provided the economic background for planned reconstruction.


Original numerical sequence of creating body has been followed

Related Material:
For records of the Offices of the Minister of Reconstruction see CAB 124
Held by:
The National Archives, Kew
Legal status:
Public Record
War Cabinet, Reconstruction Secretariat, 1940-1945
Physical description:
277 file(s)
Immediate source of acquisition:
Cabinet Office , from 1972
No future accruals expected
Administrative / biographical background:

The Reconstruction Secretariat was formed in 1940, to act as a co-ordinating centre for all interested departments and bodies such as the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey. It was organised under Arthur Greenwood as Minister without Portfolio, and later served Sir William Jowitt as both Paymaster General and Minister without Portfolio.

The Reconstruction Secretariat served as secretariat of the Committee on Reconstruction Problems which was set-up on 21 February 1941 with the Minister without Portfolio as chair, and eleven other members, with the following among its terms of reference [see WP(G)(41)24 in CAB 67/9]: "To arrange for the preparation of practical schemes of reconstruction, to which effect can be given in a period of, say, three years after the was...through a social and economic structure designed to secure equality of opportunity and service among all classes of the community." The terms of reference were those originally assigned to the War Aims Committee [see CAB 87/90] which was absorbed in the Committee on Reconstruction Problems.

In the reconstruction of the government that took place early in 1942, the office of Minister without Portfolio lapsed temporarily and Sir William Jowitt (the Paymaster General) succeeded to the chair of the Committee on Reconstruction Problems. Jowitt retained his responsibilities for reconstruction on being appointed Minister -without Portfolio in December 1942. The Committee was reconstituted with a smaller membership, but the same terms of reference. The Committee on Reconstruction Problems also absorbed the functions of the Committee on Economic Aspects of Reconstruction Problems, which was then dissolved.

Following the publication of the Beveridge Report in November 1942, the War Cabinet set-up the Committee on Reconstruction Priorities, chaired by the Lord President of the Council, and the dual arrangement of two major ministerial committees, under different chairpersons, dealing with reconstruction problems, continued until the office of the Minister of Reconstruction was created on 12 November 1943, when Lord Woolton became Minister and the Reconstruction Committee replaced the Committees on Reconstruction Problems and Priorities.

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