THE PROBLEM of raw material supplies for European industry, to which the recent resignations from the British Government so spectacularly drew attention, is beyond doubt of profound significance for Anglo-American collaboration and for the security of the Western World. It is part of an international problem too complex to admit of comprehensive survey in any single article, even if the relevant statistical data were available; and this contribution does not presume to make the attempt. The writer's aim is the more modest one of trying, first, to set the causes and implications of the recent furor in perspective against the wider background, and then to indicate some longer-range possibilities and needs, in the hope of thereby narrowing the area of misunderstanding on (and between) both sides of the Atlantic. One difficulty at the outset, however, is that in the domestic dispute in Britain the fundamental issue of raw material supplies was heavily overlaid by purely political considerations and tactics; these must be disentangled before a clear view of the real issue can be obtained.
It is little more than a month, as this is written, since Britain's first rearmament budget, sponsored by the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Hugh Gaitskell, provoked in quite unexpected circumstances two major resignations from the Cabinet and one resignation of a minor Minister. The British public had been prepared to witness the departure of Mr. Aneurin Bevan, chief architect of Britain's National Health Service, on the ground that the Chancellor had set a firm limit to the cost of the service and was imposing a "half-price" charge for dentures and spectacles supplied under it. It was quite unprepared to see the attack on the Government extended from teeth to tanks, and broadened by the adherence of two more rebel Ministers, with the support of the extreme fringe of Labor members in Parliament. It was told, in effect, that America's voracious appetite for scarce materials confronted British industry with "unparalleled disaster" and "mass unemployment;" that
Loading, please wait...