Labour Migration and the Regional Problem in Britain, 1920-1939 - PhDData

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Labour Migration and the Regional Problem in Britain, 1920-1939

The thesis was published by Pitfield, David Edward, in September 2022, University of Stirling.


Whilst reading for my first degree at the University of Bristol I became particularly interested in two diverse fields of study. An interest in Regional Economics was motivated by the sparse coverage given to the consideration of the spatial organisation of the economy in most standard works. The other interest was in British Economic History of the inter-war years. I am indebted to Dr, B.W.E. Alford for inspiring and developing my curiosity for this subject. In choosing a subject for research, I endeavoured to combine these two interests.
Virtually no work has been done on the formative years of British regional policy. I thought this to be a particularly important gap to fill in that I could closely document regional policy in these years and give some insight into the processes of government policy formulation. In addition, the inter-war years is a unique period in the history of British regional policy. It is the only period when the objective of policy was to move ‘workers-to-the-work’, rather than ‘work-to-the-workers’. Even less information is readily available on policies encouraging labour migration, than on the better known Special Areas policy. Consequently, my own interests and the gap in interpretation suggested the examination of the role of labour migration policies in the inter-war period as the subject for my research.
The thesis is set out in three sections. The first section is an introduction. The regional problem is described, the pattern of labour flows documented and the factors influencing these flows is shown. The second section is concerned with regional policies. These are traced from the introduction of transference policy until, and including, the introduction and development of Special Areas policy. The effects of these policies are judged at a regional level and, in Chapter 8, at the micro-economic level. The final section describes the culmination of
the inter-war year’s experience of regional policies with the appearance of the Barlow Report and the discrediting of transference. The conclusion shows the importance of transference in the inter-war years and the paradox of the post- World War II situation where labour migration has been ignored as a policy tool.

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