The Minister of Munitions was a British government position created during the First World War to oversee and co-ordinate the production and distribution of munitions for the war effort. The position was created in response to the Shell Crisis of 1915 when there was much public criticism of the shortage of shells available.
The Ministry was staffed at the top levels by businessmen and loaned by their companies for the duration of the war. These men were able to coordinate the needs of big business with those of the state, and reach a compromise on price and profit that was acceptable to both sides.
Government agents bought essential supplies from abroad. Once bought, the Ministry would control their distribution in order to prevent speculative price rises and to enable normal marketing to continue. The whole of the Indian jute crop, for example, was bought and distributed in this way. Steel, wool, leather and flax came under similar controls. By 1918, the Ministry had a staff of 65,000 employing some 3 million workers in over 20,000 factories.
Most Ministers appointed were senior politicians, starting with David Lloyd George. The position was abolished in 1921 as part of a cutback of government and as a delayed result of the end of WWI in 1918.