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"Full Payment But Not Full Employment in Britain"

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Article in the Wells Journal on 29th May 1956 referring to a talk on automation given by Mr Edward Holloway, the Honourable Secretary of the Economic Research Council, in which he referred to LEO and payroll calculations for Lyons. He also referred to LEO's use in calculating election returns in the last general election (1955).

Date : 29th June 1956

Transcript :

“Full Payment but not Full Employment in Britain”
Mr. Edward Holloway’s talk on Automation

The Hon. Secretary of the Economic Research Council and Joint Editor of the “Economic Digest”, Mr. Edward Holloway, recently spoke to the Senior Forms of Millfield School, and to the Shepton Mallet and Glastonbury Street Rotary Clubs, on the subject of “Automation” What it means to Great Britain.”

During the course of his talks he said that although there was a considerable amount of misuse of the word Automation in the Press we could not ignore the subject and suggested that it will not happen to any great extent for a long time. Other countries were not thinking in the same way.

He went on to give some examples of Automation already in existence in the world and mentioned “Leo” - the J. Lyons and Co. Electronic Office. This fantastic machine can calculate the pay-roll for 10,000 employees in about four hours instead of 37 full-time employees using normal office machinery. This was only one small task that the machine can undertake and it still has capacity for taking on work from other companies. It was, for instance, used to calculate the election returns in the last General Election.

In the 20’s and 30’s it was found that the workers had no objection to the improvement in machines and the saving of work.

“It was the conditions under which they were called upon to work which caused them to smash machines,” he declared.

“The lessons of the 30’s are deeply etched into the minds of the older people and they have passed them on to the present generation.”

It was literally not true, he suggested that there was full employment in Britain today. We have full payment, but not full employment; we are not using properly the resources of our manpower, and the impact of automation can be disastrous.

“A thorough inquiry into the whole of our monetary system is essential and a few days before the budget I was a member of a deputation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer under the leadership of Sir Robert Boothby, K.B.E., M.P., and we did explain this need to the Chancellor who listened sympathetically.”

An attempt to cure inflation by a dose of inflation was a defeatist policy. What was needed, he said in conclusion, was that the pound sterling should be an honest currency, which held its value and was directly related to the volume of goods and services available to be consumed. Automation would then be welcomed.

There is no other purpose of Automation but to relieve mankind of many onerous and disagreeable jobs, to release people to do very much more well-worth things, with their increased leisure. 

*(Inflation: is there a cure? Is the title of a pamphlet by Mr. Holloway which deals with the points put forward to the Chancellor before the budget. Price 1/2 (post free) obtainable from Industrial Advisory Bureau, 22, Buckingham Street, London, W.C.2.).

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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH64168. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

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