In a time of great need for Britain, a small coterie of
influential businessmen gained access to secret information on industrial mobilisation
as advisers to the Principal Supply Officers Committee. They provided the state
with priceless advice, but, as "insiders" utilised their access to information
to build a business empire at a fraction of the normal costs. Outsiders, in
contrast, lacked influence and were forced together into a defensive "ring" -
or cartel - which effectively fixed prices for British warships. By the 1930s, the
cartel grew into one of the most sophisticated profiteering groups of its day.
This book examines the relationship between the private
naval armaments industry, businessmen, and the British government defence
planners between the wars. It reassesses the concept of the military-industrial
complex through the impact of disarmament upon private industry, the role of
leading industrialists in supply and procurement policy, and the successes and
failings of government organisation. It blends together political, naval, and
business history in new ways, and, by situating the business activities of
industrialists alongside their work as government advisors, sheds new light on
the operation of the British state.
This is the story of how these men profited while
effectively saving the National Government from itself.