Catalogue description Ministry of Materials: Files

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Details of BT 161
Reference: BT 161
Title: Ministry of Materials: Files

This series represents those files selected as worthy of preservation out of the Ministry of Material's files that did not pass permanently to the Board of Trade.

A few files are included in the series which runs on after August 1954, as they were worked on at the board without being re-registered as the board's files. A few other files run from before the Ministry was set up, or are entirely the product of the Ministry's predecessors. They were, however, re-registered as Ministry of Materials files.

Date: 1939-1958
Related material:

See also the records of the Ministry of Power, Iron and Steel Division:

Files relating to UK/Dominion Wool Disposals Ltd are in BT 135

Division within POWE

For registered files of the Treasury Solicitor relating to work on behalf of the Ministry of Materials see TS 63

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 257 file(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

After the Second World War the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Supply and the Ministry of Fuel and Power between them exercised the remaining post-war controls over raw materials. Certain functions of the war-time Raw Materials department of the Ministry of Supply, given to it by s.2 of the 1939 Ministry of Supply Act, were transferred to the Board of Trade in 1946.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, the Government first gave the Lord Privy Seal special responsibilities for the supply of raw materials, as it appeared that their procurement would be very difficult for a considerable period of time. In July 1951 a separate Ministry of Materials was created, and the Lord Privy Seal was appointed to the additional post of its Minister.

The basis of the new ministry was formed by bringing together again the two halves of the Ministry of Supply's Raw Materials Department, split in 1946. The Ministry took over from the Board of Trade all its raw materials functions except those concerning diamonds, tobacco, and some chemicals, and from the Ministry of Supply those concerning most non-ferrour and unwrought light metals, including ores and concentrates. Control over iron and steel, and certain other metals, remained with the Ministry of Supply.

The world supply of raw materials improved much earlier than had been expected, and from 1952 controls were gradually removed. Once the Korean War was over, private trading began again in almost all commodities, and the new Ministry was quickly run down. The need for a separate Ministry of Materials was now gone, and it was abolished in August 1954, all its remaining functions being transferred to the Board of Trade. These were the disposal of stock and of capital assets, the winding up of most of the remaining public trading and the continuation of the residue, the management of the strategic reserve in which a large sum of public funds was invested, and the negotiation of international commodity agreements.

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