The Treasury and the Economy
Economic doctrines come and go, but the institutions involved in the making of economic policy change relatively slowly. This is particularly true of the Treasury, which has stood at the centre of the economic policy-making process in Britain throughout the twentieth century. It has espoused different doctrines as the intellectual and policy climate has changed, and its reputation has suffered setbacks from time to time, particularly when its forecasts have been shown to be badly wrong, but its considerable influence has remained one of the constants of British economic policy. Middlemas talks of Britain having ‘a Treasury-based machinery of government regime’ (Middlemas, 1991, p. 457). This is not quite as exceptional as is sometimes supposed. Central finance ministries tend to be powerful in most political systems because they are involved in making decisions about how much money is to be raised from whom and how it is to be spent, decisions which affect the whole range of government policy.
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