The Defence Industry and Collaboration: 1957 to 1987
Although British arms exports had risen rapidly in the late 1950s, there had been a fall in exports and in morale in the wake of the 1957 Defence White Paper; this (and the subsequent policy of Mr Duncan Sandys as Minister of Aviation) had had the beneficial effect of concentrating small defence firms into more competitive large groupings. The cancellations of major defence orders when the Labour administration came to power in 1964 gave yet more problems to struggling defence firms. It is thus not surprising that in the mid-1960s the relationship between the Ministry of Defence and the defence industry was very different from what it is now. As a result of excessive profits drawn from defence contracts by two firms in 1964 and 1967, an atmosphere of distrust prevailed and communications were notably poor. In the later years of the 1964–70 Labour administration, determined efforts were made to bring the two sides together to meet recommendations to the MOD from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that action be taken to improve the unsatisfactory contractor/customer relationship: Mr Denis Healey, as Secretary of State for Defence, took the chair in 1970 at the first meeting of a high-level body established to give both sides the opportunity of discussing major difficulties and future plans — the National Defence Industries Council, which still continues to meet at the present time.
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