National Economic Development Council
The National Economic Development Council (NEDC) was a corporatist economic planning forum set up in 1962 in the United Kingdom to bring together management, trades unions and government in an attempt to address Britain's relative economic decline. It was supported by the National Economic Development Office (NEDO). Both were known as Neddy. Economic Development Committees (EDCs, known as “Little Neddies”) were set up for particular industries.
Similar bodies had been evolving for a generation. An Economic Advisory Council had been set up in 1930, chaired by the Prime Minister and including leading economists Keynes and Stamp. In 1941 a National Production Advisory Council was set up, chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1947 there was an Economic Planning Board under Sir Edwin Plowden; it included industrialists and civil servants, and on Plowden’s retirement in 1953 the Treasury Permanent Secretary took over as chair, but it had little influence. In 1957 the Council on Prices, Productivity and Incomes (“the Three Wise Men”) was set up.
NEDC was outlined to the House of Commons in July 1961 by then Chancellor, Selwyn Lloyd, and first met in 1962. It was modelled on the French Economic and Social Council, and it remained an influential player across the 1970s governments of Edward Heath, Harold Wilson and James Callaghan in terms of setting future strategy for UK business and industry, though not in terms of industrial relations. It was headed by a series of consensual industrialists Sir Geoffrey Chandler and Bernard Asher and ex civil servants e.g. John Cassels and one academic Walter Eltis.
Edmund Dell writes that “NEDC became a burden and a bore for the next thirty years but no chancellor had the courage to say so publically.”. Margaret Thatcher, who distrusted both planning and corporatism, scaled down meetings from monthly to quarterly and mainly ignored the body throughout the 1980s. It was finally abolished by John Major in June 1992.
- Dell, Edmund (1997). The Chancellors: A History of the Chancellors of the Exchequer, 1945-90. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-006-38418-2.
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