It had been impossible to develop a full-scale atomic project in Britain during the war, partly because of the dangers of bombing but largely because there was little chance in wartime of finding the necessary resources. However, when the Government decided immediately after the war that Britain should produce fissile material as soon as possible, demands on the country’s resources still greatly exceeded the supply. Britain had, in winning the war, sold a substantial proportion of her foreign investments, run down her gold and dollar reserves and incurred a mountain of debt, while a third of her merchant fleet lay at the bottom of the sea, and exports were a third of the pre-war level. Lend-Lease from the United States had ceased and the dollar loan* was only a temporary palliative. Revival and expansion of exports were thus essential to national survival. The capital equipment of industries outside munitions and agriculture had deteriorated badly and some vital industries such as electricity supply and the railways were near breakdown. The housing situation was parlous, for 250,000 houses had been destroyed and 3 million damaged and almost none had been built for five years. Schools and hospitals had also suffered. The population had been starved of consumer goods.


Prime Minister Atomic Energy Capital Expenditure Select Committee Economy Campaign 
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© United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority 1974

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