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British Treasury (20th C.)

International Finance and Depression era policy papers on microfilm for the period 1916-1943. Two sets of papers are included from the old PRO (National Archives) class of T172 section papers. The files provide a unique insight into the private office of successive Chancellors of the Exchequer during a period of turmoil and change in the national and international economy. The wealth of memoranda, telegrams and other correspondence, conference reports, committee papers, White Papers and speeches included in the collection cover a wide range of policy issues of such international and national importance as to require the attention of the Chancellor. 

For ease of access the files have been divided into two parts. The first part covers the international financial situation and policy between 1916-1943. It includes the Treasury’s assessments of the strength of other economies, in particular those of the USA, France and Germany, and the working papers of the Imperial Economic Conference, 1930-33 and of the World Monetary and Economic Conference in 1933. There are papers on, and historical surveys of, major international issues such as the Gold Standard, reparations, the settlement of international war debts and imperial preference. The second part contains the working papers on, and historical surveys of, major domestic issues. These include taxation policy, the control of public expenditure, unemployment pay, intervention in specific industries, reconversion of war loan and the genesis of regional policy. It is supplemented by two major files which illustrate the Treasury’s reaction to proposals for a Keynesian reflation of the economy in 1929 and 1935. The policy issues are completed by reconstruction papers from the Second World War, including the Treasury’s views on post-war finance and the Beveridge Report.  This part also includes copies of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s speeches in the 1930s and verbatim reports of deputations to the chancellor from a wide range of bodies representing finance, industry and labour. 

The papers in the collection are not overly burdened with repetitive administrative detail and consequently are conventionally regarded as the logical and most effective starting place from which to begin any examination of the Treasury’s records during this period.  

Date range: 1916-1943

Size: 38 reels of microfilm

Language:  English

Keywords:  Economics, politics, finance, Depression era, Britain

Notes:  Special Collections and Archives also holds Cabinet Papers and Minutes of the Unemployment Board covering the same period.