Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 53

nationalization - Opposing views, Notable nationalizations by country, The CIA and Oil Nationalization

public private normally labour

Taking into public ownership an entire industry, normally a public utility. Nationalization takes place with social as well as commercial objectives. The main reasons are that an industry (a) is crucial to the economy and in need of government direction, (b) is a natural monopoly, (c) has suffered a period of decline which needs to be reversed, (d) produces a good or service which would not be available to all areas if commercial profit were the only criterion for supply, or (e) is important to national defence. There is also the view, based on a socialist ideology, that public ownership is desirable to prevent the earning of private profit extracted from labour and the concentration of economic power in private hands. Nationalized industries in the UK are normally constituted as public corporations accountable to a government minister, although their numbers and importance have declined dramatically as a result of the policy of privatization pursued by the Conservative governments of 1979–97 and continued by the New Labour goverment of 1997.

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