The interwar years were aperiod of great stress for the British economy in general and the staple industries in particular. Change was needed and the general concern was with how the most efficient transfer of resources from the staple industries to more productive sectors could be effected. Within the staple industries themselves the major question was how best could output be concentrated in the most efficient units. In the 1920s the emphasis of govemment policy was to encourage the voluntary rationalisation of industry from within as a me ans of reducing real costs, but in the 1930s this was replaced by a policy of more direct intervention aimed at reducing total output. It was in relation to the coal industry that this change of em~hasis was first signalled, with the passing of the 1930 Coal Mines Act. Whilst the 1926 Mining Industry Act had merely encouraged voluntary amalgamations, the 1930 Act established a Coal Mines Reorganisation Commission endowed with powers to prepare its own schemes of amalgamation where linIe or no initiative was forthcoming from the industry.