Catalogue description Board of Trade: War Trade Department and successors

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Details of BT 73
Reference: BT 73
Title: Board of Trade: War Trade Department and successors

This series contains the records of the War Trade Department and of its two successor departments in the Board of Trade.

Before March 1919 these are records of the independent War Trade Department; after March 1919 they are records of the Export Licence Department and from November 1919 of the Imports and Export Licensing Section of the Board of Trade. Although the records are from different departments they all have WTD references.

Date: 1916-1927

Both box and file number should be given when ordering a document.

Related material:

Records of the Trade Clearing House and the War Trade Intelligence Department before it was transferred are in:

FO 902

TS 14

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Board of Trade, Commercial Relations and Treaties Department, Imports and Exports Licensing Section, 1919-1949

Board of Trade, Export Licensing Department, 1919-1919

War Trade Department, 1915-1919

Physical description: 1 box(es)
Administrative / biographical background:

The War Trade Department originated in the inter-departmental Committee on Trade with the Enemy, appointed by Treasury minute at the outbreak of war in August 1914. The committee was charged with the consideration of questions regarding trade with the enemy and neutrals, with a view to the co-ordination of departmental action.

In practice the committee's work predominantly consisted of the granting of import and export licences for goods that were on the prohibited lists, the work of issuing them being carried out by the Privy Council Office. These arrangements proved too loose and the volume of work increased, so in February 1915 the committee was replaced by the War Trade Department, also set up by Treasury minute. Henceforth this department dealt with all applications for the issue of licences, which continued to take the form of orders in Council. The remainder of the functions of the committee, relating to the movement of funds and other financial matters, were transferred to the Treasury to be performed by the parliamentary counsel. From September 1915 the work of the department was co-ordinated with that of other departments connected with the blockade by the War Trade Advisory Committee, which remained in existence until January 1917.

The department worked through a main licensing committee and a number of sub-committees, each dealing with a commodity or group of commodities. In addition to this licensing work, the activities of the department covered the preparation and issue of lists of prohibited exports, the consideration of and advice upon the changes in the proclamations prohibiting export, and the preparation and maintenance of a consolidated Black List, for which purpose a Black List Committee was set up in 1915. On the formation of the department a Trade Clearing House was set up as its intelligence branch, for the purpose of collecting information on war trade for issue in a convenient form to the various government departments concerned.

In March 1916 the department was attached to the new Ministry of Blockade and renamed the War Trade Intelligence Department, though it remained officially subordinate to the War Trade Department until January 1917. In May 1915 a separate section of the department was established to compile statistics of imports into neutral countries adjacent to enemy countries. In 1916 this was converted into a sub-department named the War Trade Statistical Department, and was also transferred to the Ministry of Blockade in January 1917. In April 1919 the War Trade Department was absorbed into the Board of Trade as its Export Licensing Department.

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