6 FEBRUARY 1942, Page 12




Stn,—While your leading article of the 23rd ult. on the .upply muddle and your subsequent note on the T.U.C. demand for an overhaul of our production machinery adequately stress a number of our short- comings, I feel that the urgency of radically improving our general supply position is so great as to require a plain statement of the funda- mental lines on which the Government should set about its new Ministry of Production, because, if we concentrate on getting a satis- factory central plan, all the shortcomings you expose can be suitably and expeditiously dealt with. I would personally prefer the new office to be a Ministry of Economics because, to achieve our optimum effort, factors and trends long antecedent to actual production must be dealt with no less than questions of its dispersal or location.

To bring the problem down to its simplest form I cannot do better than summarise a recent speech of Mr. Gordon England in his capacity of chairman of the Council of the Engineering. Association, the gist of which was that with a blue print—a central design—of what is. re- quired their industries could produce the goods in any quantities and that their workpeople, with a clear indication of what was expected of them, were ready and willing to give everything wanted of them. I believe the argument applies equally ,to all our major industries, and thus puts the whole position in a nutshell. As you yourself suggest, the new Minister should have a seat in the War Cabinet, receive from it full details of daily requirements and future need..—return to his Ministry with all requirements and. priorities clearly stipulated on the one hand and with full data of available plant, raw materials, &c., on the other hand—and then draw up with his experts a series of blue prints—a basic one showing the Government's full demands, another showing actual performance and a further series showing deficiencies and potential ways and means of reaching the basic plan. Such a central design, given the right personnel vested with ample powers, is all that need concern the nation for the time being; without it valu- able plants working to a third of capacity, thousands of skilled hands standing idly by and various Ministries imposing their cramped requirements over others similarly starved, will remain the order of the day with a constant lowering of the morale of all concerned; with it, efficiently laid out and operated, our ability to smash the totalkarian Axis machine will come with leaps and bounds.

But to work such a central plan we must get rid of pre-conceived ideas. " Stunts " of all descriptions must be taboo—they merely de- stroy planned productions and rarely fill their purpose. Nor is " super- man" the essential qualification of the new Minister; our system of life has no need for Hiders, Schachts or Todts, for there is no dearth in Britain of highly able practical administrators who, assisted by a panel of economic, industrial, transport and labour experts, could produce and operate a blue print which would revolutionise output if not hampered by bureaucratic practices or by over-riding demands destructive of smooth functioning of the whole.— Yours faithfully,

42 and 44 Sackville Street, Manchester r. W. S. Ascot'.