My Labour Love Affair: FBI

Federation of British Industries (FBI):

‘Founded in 1916 as a representative organisation of industrial producers, under the leadership of Dudley *Docker of Metropolitan Carriage and Wagon co. and Vincent Caillard of Vickers Ltd. Docker, Caillard, and their fellow manufacturers of munitions and other heavy engineering goods were anxious to defend the position of manufacturers against increasing government control during the’ (see also,) *Great War, available on:

‘*Great War. The FBI espoused tariff protection, export cartels, and the establishment of a ministry for industry (which it expected to influence). It favoured tripartite relationships between ‘peak organisations’ of employers, trade unions, and government to manage economic policy after the war. It drew its first staff from the ranks of former civil servants, and sought to become the sole voice of capital in Whitehall. In this it was not encouraged either by Christopher Addison, the minister of reconstruction, or by other businessmen’s organisations such as the’ (see also,) *National Union of Manufacturers, available on:

’or the Engineering Employers Federation.

Between the wars the FBI strove to sustain its claim to be the main channel of communication between industrial employers and the government. Though largely in favour of tariff protection , it was hampered not only by the suspicions of free-trader businessmen and bankers, but also by the hostility of the *National Union of Manufacturers (later the National Association of British Manufacturers), made up largely of smaller business, which regarded it as too soft on the trade unions and too ready to concede on tariffs. Much practical business was done between government departments and industry-specific trade associations, rather than with the FBI. Nevertheless the FBI was invited to discussion at key moments, such as when it joined with the TUC and the *National Confederation of Employers’ Organisation (NCEO) to discuss economic policy options from 1930 to 1932, and when it engaged with the government over defence policy in the later 1930’s. During and after the Second World War it was accepted as the voice of manufacturing industry, though it could never constrain the actions of its member companies and could not therefore commit them to tripartite agreements with government and the unions. In 1965 it merged with the British Employers’ Confederation (formerly the NCEO) and the’ (see also,) *National Union of British Manufacturers, available on:

to form the *Confederation of British Industry’.

From, John Ramsden, Professor of Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London.

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