Britain: An Excess of Excess Profits

Officially, British companies bidding for government contracts are allowed to plan on a maximum profit of 7%. Unofficially, they can make up to 20%. Actually, many of them do a great deal better than that. Or so it seemed last week as Parliament was embroiled in a brouhaha triggered by the news that on a contract for overhauling aircraft engines, the Bristol Siddeley division of the Hawker Siddeley Group had rung up profits of 63%.

Directors of the company maintained that they had no knowledge of any overcharges—which for some work amounted to...

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