Of all the achievements of the Labour government , there were few more closely identified w i t h Labour Party doctrine than the series of measures for the nationalization of major industries. Public ownership , after all, was at the centre of the socialist vision of the future in 1945. Most of the measures taken were foreshadowed in the Labour Par ty 's manifesto and were not seriously contested, except in detail, by the Conservative Opposi t ion . It was only iron and steel and road haulage, on which there had been comparatively little public discussion, that gave rise to acute political controversy. 1

No other part of the legislative p rogramme took up so much parliamentary t ime. T h e four principal bills, covering coal, gas, electricity and transport , occupied 530 hours in the House of C o m m o n s and 675 hours in the Lords . 2 The number of amendments on the order paper in bo th Houses exceeded 5000. W h e n other new legislation is added in, the number of pages needed for the various bills in the three Sessions following that of 1945 -6 was twice the annual parliamentary ou tpu t of the 1930s and a correspondingly heavy load was imposed on ministers and depar tments , already jaded by six years of w a r . 3

The legislation attracted widespread at tent ion abroad and coloured the reactions of financial markets in the various foreign exchange crises from 1947 onwards . Foreign commenta tors were only too ready to at t r ibute

Britain 's post-war difficulties to the socialization of a large tract of its economy.