Just before the outbreak of World War II, a system of raw material controls had been set up by the Committee of Imperial Defence, assisted by the Board of Trade, and was incorporated within the Ministry of Supply, formed in 1939. A section of the British Iron and Steel Federation formed the nucleus of an Iron and Steel Control, which was responsible for the supply and distribution of iron and steel, supervising imports and exports, and co-ordinating efforts to raise production to war tempo.
Control was wound up at the end of the war, but the Ministry continued to be concerned with the iron and steel industry, and was responsible for nationalisation in 1949 and the subsequent de-nationalisation in 1953.
In 1946, when the Ministry of Supply was reorganised to absorb the Ministry of Aircraft Production, the former's Raw Materials Department and the various specialised organisations known collectively as the Raw Materials Controls and Directorates were transferred to the Board of Trade, although the Ministry of Supply retained responsibility for iron, steel, non-ferrous and light metals.
In 1950 the Raw Materials Department was abolished and its functions distributed among the various divisions of the Industries and Manufactures Department, but less than a year later, these functions, together with almost all the controls and directorates, were transferred to the new Ministry of Materials.
In August 1954 the Ministry of Materials was abolished and the board regained its raw materials functions and organisations, with some others which the defunct ministry had acquired from the Ministry of Supply; iron and steel, which had remained with the Ministry of Supply, came to the board the following year, but passed to the Ministry of Fuel and Power in 1957. Within this matters relating to iron and steel were dealt with by the newly formed Iron and Steel Division which had responsibility for the administration of the Iron and Steel Act 1953, and in particular questions relating to supply and demand (including imports and exports); development; supplies of raw materials (including the control of prices and distribution of scrap, and the break-up of Government-owned ships for scrap); the European Free Trade Area and other international organisations.
The industry remained de-nationalised until the establishment of the National Steel Corporation under the Iron and Steel Act 1967, which also revived certain provisions of the 1949 Act. In 1969 the iron and steel functions of the Ministry of Power were absorbed within the Ministry of Technology, which was merged with the Board of Trade the following year to form the Department of Trade and Industry. Responsibility for iron and steel later passed to the Department of Industry when this department was formed in 1974.