The Official History of Privatisation Vol. I: The formative years 1970-1987, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Official History of Privatisation Vol. I

The formative years 1970-1987, 1st Edition

By David Parker


610 pages

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This first volume of the Official History studies the background to privatisation, and the privatisations of the first two Conservative Governments led by Margaret Thatcher from May 1979 to June 1987. First commissioned by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair as an authoritative history, this volume addresses a number of key questions:

  • To what extent was privatisation a clear policy commitment within the Thatcher Governments of the 1980s - or did Government simply stumble on the idea?
  • Why were particular public corporations sold early in the 1980s and other sales delayed until well into the 1990s?
  • What were the privatisation objectives and how did they change over time, if at all?
  • How was each privatisation planned and executed, how were different City advisers appointed and remunerated, what precise roles did they play?
  • How was each privatisation administered; in what ways did the methods evolve and change and why? How were sale prices determined?
  • Which government departments took the lead role; what was the input of the Treasury and Bank of England; and what was the relationship between Ministers and civil servants?

The study draws heavily from the official records of the British Government to which the author was given full access and from interviews with leading figures involved in each of the privatisations – including ex-Ministers, civil servants, business and City figures, as well as academics that have studied the subject. This new official history will be of much interest to students of British political history, economics and business studies.

Table of Contents

1: Nationalisation to Privatisation: 1945-79 – the Genesis of a Policy Idea. 2: The Conservative Party, Nationalisation and the 1979 General Election. 3: Balancing the Books: Privatisation and the 1979-83 Government. 4: Privatising Oil. 5: Privatising British Aerospace and Cable and Wireless. 6: Privatising Amersham International, the National Freight Corporation and Associated British Ports. 7: The First Four Years – A Retrospective. 8: Into the Heartlands of the Public Trading Sector: Privatisation and the 1983-7 Thatcher Government. 9: Privatising British Airways, Rolls-Royce, Shipbuilding and the Royal Dockyards. 10: Privatising Bus Transport and the Royal Ordnance Factories. 11: Privatising British Telecom: The Decision to Privatise. 12: Privatising British Telecom: OFTEL and Regulating Profits or Prices. 13: Privatising British Telecom: The Flotation and Repercussions. 14: The Privatisation of British Gas: The Decision to Privatise and Designing an Appropriate Regulatory Regime. 15: The Privatisation of British Gas: The Flotation and Aftermath.

About the Author

David Parker is Research Professor in Privatisation and Regulation in the School of Management, Cranfield University, UK. He has researched privatisation for over 25 years, and has acted as a consultant on privatisation internationally. Previous publications include co-authoring The International Handbook on Privatization.

About the Series

Government Official History Series

The Government Official History series began in 1919 with wartime histories, and the peacetime series was inaugurated in 1966 by Harold Wilson. The aim of the series is to produce major histories in their own right, compiled by historians eminent in the field, who are afforded free access to all relevant material in the official archives. The Histories also provide a trusted secondary source for other historians and researchers while the official records are not in the public domain. The main criteria for selection of topics are that the histories should record important episodes or themes of British history while the official records can still be supplemented by the recollections of key players; and that they should be of general interest, and, preferably, involve the records of more than one government department.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Economic Policy