Minister of Technology
|Superseding agency||Department of Trade and Industry|
The Minister of Technology was a position in the government of the United Kingdom, sometimes abbreviated as "MinTech". The Ministry of Technology was established by the incoming government of Harold Wilson in October 1964 as part of Wilson's ambition to modernise the state for what he perceived to be the needs of the 1960s. The pledge was included in the Labour Party's 1964 general election manifesto: "A Labour Government will .. [set] up a Ministry of Technology to guide and stimulate a major national effort to bring advanced technology and new processes into industry."
Wilson chose to appoint Frank Cousins, General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, who had not previously sat in Parliament. However, Cousins' performance in the role was disappointing, partly because Cousins was new to the political scene but also because he disagreed with Government economic policy in general. By the time of the 1966 general election, Wilson was telling Tony Benn to prepare to take over because "I can't think Frank Cousins will stay long. He's not fit anyway." In the event, Cousins resigned on 3 July 1966 when the Prices and Incomes Bill was published, and was duly replaced by Benn.
Benn was then closely associated with Wilson and worked with him to build the Ministry into a powerful voice within Whitehall. Both he and Wilson believed in government assistance to industry to adopt new technology. The Ministry gradually gained extra functions, taking over those of the Ministry of Aviation on 15 February 1967 and also absorbed the Ministry of Power on 6 October 1969; it therefore became one of the largest and most powerful in government. However, when Edward Heath took over as Prime Minister after the 1970 general election, he had no commitment to maintain Wilson's new Ministries. In October 1970, Heath merged the Ministry with the Board of Trade to create the Department of Trade and Industry.