Courtesy Reuters

British Reconversion and Trade

A MAJOR changeover from war to peace production is clearly out of the question in any of the United Nations until Germany capitulates. But in the United States the first tentative steps toward reconversion have been taken. In Britain we read of the lifting of the ban on American production of some hundreds of civilian items and of spot authorizations to more than a thousand plants, permitting a $200,000,000 increase in civilian output during the last quarter of 1944 and all of 1945. These moves have been followed with interest in this country.

How much progress has been made along these lines in Britain? The answer is none, almost literally. The best evidence of this is to be found in our figures of government disbursements, which in the first half of the year seemed to have become stabilized at a steady maximum but in recent months have expanded to new high levels. There have, of course, been cutbacks in some lines of production where supplies are now ample to last out the German war, but these have been more than offset by the intensification of the war effort in other directions.

For the most part, labor released by the termination of war contracts has either been absorbed into the armed forces or diverted to other war production, notably that intended for the Japanese war in "Stage 2." In some instances the shift in production has tended to create pockets of unemployment, as, for example, by the release of married women with young children who cannot be ordered to take jobs away from their homes. To build new factories to reabsorb such labor in war work would be useless at this late stage, and to leave the women unemployed would be wasteful. Consequently, the Board of Trade recently announced that some hosiery factories in Lanarkshire might be allowed to reopen, though they will not employ more than two or three hundred people. That appears to be the only example of a return to civil production even

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